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7 Ways To Become Smarter Even You Can Do

7 Ways To Become Smarter Even You Can Do
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It’s always a great idea to work on our cognitive abilities in order to become smarter. After all, isn’t this a life skill that we can all agree is beneficial for us? If you want to become smarter, here are a seven great activities that will help you out.

1. Trivia Games

Trivia games are a great way to boost your cognitive abilities if played regularly. It’s not that this is about filling our heads up with facts and being a bore at a party—although that could be you if you wish. Instead, when you remember things such as trivia facts, you can become smarter by improving your long-term memory. Not only will you become smarter by playing, but by engaging friends or relatives you can deepen relationships through good-natured competitiveness. Surely this is better than slouching in front of the TV?

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2. Learn Song Words

As odd as this might sound, if you take time to learn the words of your favorite songs, you can make yourself smarter and get a bit more creative, too. Initially focus on your all time faves, and then work through your favorite albums and then onwards. If you cannot hear all of the words then look them up online (Google is your friend here). Most people who like music should be able to find more than 100 songs with lyrics that they would enjoy knowing the words to. By learning the words and tunes, not only do you improve your memory skills, you also engage some of the more creative aspects of your brain.

3. Playing Puzzles

Like trivia games, puzzles will help you become smarter by engaging the problem-solving parts of your brain. Whether you prefer jigsaws (which help your spacial awareness), sudoku (problem solving and number handling) or crosswords (language and problem solving), there is a puzzle game for you that can extend your smartness.

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4. Play Some Poker

Poker not only involves strategy but also weighing risks and acting accordingly. Poker requires you to know your hand and anticipate the other players’ actions. You need to learn how to read people’s “poker faces” and you need to anticipate what kind of a pot that you can win. Since poker games have lots of different rules, you will increase your knowledge and memory through playing.

5. Strategy Card Games

There are many different forms of strategy card games that will help you become smarter. These can include simple card games like the well known game Uno, all the way up to complicated collectors’ card games, such as Magic: The Gathering. Like poker, all of these games will increase your cognitive ability and make for great social activities.

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6. Video Games

Some people might consider playing video games to be a waste of time, but there are many games that can challenge you in ways you may have not considered. High-action, quick-thinking, first-person, shooting or driving games require the player to be aware of surroundings and act accordingly. Not only that, but the abstract nature of games and hand-to-eye coordination require the brain to engage in a way that isn’t usually associated with becoming smarter.

Aside from the high-octane, there are also “brain training” games. Whether straightforward puzzles, or more story-based adventure games, these will help you with puzzle solving and hand-to-eye coordination.

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7. Read, Read and Read Some More

Last but not least, reading will definitely help you become smarter. Whether it is poetry, books, magazines or web pages that you read, it doesn’t really matter as long as you read regularly. Reading helps you to develop your memory and improve your language skills. If you are the kind of person who can relax with a book for more than 15 minutes at a go, then you are also exercising your concentration skills. Not bad for something that so many people take for granted.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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