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Bank Robbery!

Bank Robbery!

There’s been a robbery, and you’re involved!

Scene of the Crime

For those two hours last night that you watched television, someone else stole that time and applied it to writing a little bit more on their new, completely obvious, “I had that idea already” book, and they’re going to sell it for $200,000 up front.

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When you surfed RSS feeds an extra hour looking for the perfect productivity tip, someone snuck in and ran off with that time. They used it to read a chapter on Java scripting, and they took the practice tests in the back. Looks like they’re ready to turn that hour into a new career and a raise.

I’m sorry to report this: the time bank has been compromised.

In fact, the more I investigate, our protective measures are downright porous. We develop systems, and those pesky thieves come in and steal the time away anyhow. The nerve of them. That’s our time. We had plans for it. I’ve taken an informal audit of a lot of blogs, and I’ve found that time we’re regretting not having. Just a few blogs over from Lifehack.org, there’s a girl really lamenting having watched the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy again, BACK TO BACK, because she realized shortly thereafter that she was still $500 in the hole for the rent this month, and it’s already July 3rd.

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Time is Finite

I really don’t have to continue illustrating this point, do I? One of the greatest hacks you can pull off in your own life is to get real about the amount of time you take for leisure and frivolous consumption, and measure it against all the other things you intend to get done with your life. If you’re looking for that extra few hours to spend with the kids, I bet you I know right where it is. If you’re trying to get that novel written, I’ve got pages 45-100 right here.

You can save food. You can save money. You can save all kinds of things. But not time. Time is a running debit, forever in withdraw mode, and with no recharge method. The best you can do, and this is the goal of some of the hacks we present here, is to channel your energy into spending the currency of time more wisely. Again: there is no saving, only wise spending.

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And yet, the paradox is there: you can maximize time. You can multiply time. You can parallel time. Because time is already in motion, that’s the only way to get more out of time than what you’re already alotted.

5 Tips

Just in case this isn’t practical enough for you Life hackers, here are five better ways to spend time:

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  • Pay the $5 for someone else to delivery your groceries, and order them online (where available).
  • Buy cheap digital timers and stick them next to your TV and next to your main internet station. Set a budget, and stick to it.
  • Teach others to do parts of what you do and share. Force multiplication doesn’t make you less important. It doesn’t give away your job. It shows leaders at your organization that you’ve got a skill they need to better scale the enterprise.
  • Get up 1/2 hour early every day. Sure, get your 8 hours if you can, but if you’re going past that boundary, learn. It takes a while, but you can turn that 1/2 hour into plenty more gold.
  • Write this down: I can always earn more money. Time is finite. Post that liberally around the home, office, car, bathroom.

There are other hacks that I’m evolving that continue along the practical vein. I’ve started to muse about it in my post about time quilting, but the concept’s not fully evolved. Do feel free to add your thoughts. They’ll help me spend less time baking my own.

–Chris Brogan sleeps four hours a night and writes voraciously. He produces two podcasts (soon to be three), and will one day implode. He recently saw Superman (2 hours, 20 minutes) and wishes he could get his time back. Chris writes at [chrisbrogan.com] and does content stuff at Grasshopper Factory.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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