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Take Control Back Over Your Smartphone

Take Control Back Over Your Smartphone

People give lots of control to the devices around them, have you noticed that as well? Of course, there is the computer, your TV, perhaps a car. All of these have a lot of control over you and they can definitely change your mood. Still, there is one device that has probably more control over you than all of these things together. Yes, you guessed it correctly: your mobile or smartphone.

Is your smartphone in control?

Can you remember the time when you didn’t have a smartphone or even a mobile phone? How was that? Did you feel less stressed? Were you able to live a normal life? Could people reach you?

Studies show that many people go to bed and the bathroom with their mobile phone. My personal opinion is that when your house burns down, you’ll probably save your mobile phone over your cat. And you don’t even have a backup of your cat!

Have you seen the people who are walking with their children? Or the people who are on a family trip? How about those groups having a nice dinner together?

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What do many of them do?

That’s right, they check their email, social media status, the news, play games and all kinds of other stuff that is (of course) very important at the time. But when they look back, they’ll realize it is not really that important. Let’s be honest with each other. Most of the emails you receive are not really so valuable that they need your immediate attention. The news is kind of the same as weeks or months ago. Social media is nice, but who really has 2,000 close friends who tweet quotes and share pictures?

I am not against all of that. Still, a little bit of self control and valuing your time is in order.

How to take back control.

My point is, many people (you as well?) give a whole lot of power to a smart device. Perhaps the device makers and app makers are the really smart people. They get you hooked on using that little machine all day long and taking it everywhere you go. While you’re doing that, you miss out on so many beautiful things that are actually happening in the real world.

Have you ever thought about going for a day without using or longing for your mobile phone? I think many people can feel like they are going cold turkey when their smartphone crashes.

The moment you take control back, you will become much more productive. I am not saying you shouldn’t use your phone anymore (by the way, based on what we are really using it for, should we still call it a phone?) What I suggest is that you create a ‘relationship’ with your device in which you are the one in control. Create a situation where you use the tools, instead of you getting used by these tools.

Here are a couple of things you could — or perhaps should — do, starting right now.

Email:

Please, don’t do this on the device unless it is really important. If it isn’t, respond later on your computer. This will make your productivity go up as well because you will type faster on a computer than on a phone.

Also, make sure you don’t check email all the time or keep the online connection open all the time! I mean it, start right now by going offline! Check your email only twice a day when you really have to. This goes for both mobile and normal laptop email reading. You will be able to respond to more messages in less time by batching the email tasks.

Social Stuff:

Spend a lot less time on Twitter and Facebook. Let’s face it you don’t need to know what all the people on your list are doing, all the time. And become much more selective about what you share. Stop sending quotes of famous people — share your own experience and knowledge. Stop telling people you are having dinner or you are in the bathroom. Really? You need to share that stuff with thousands of people? I believe you are worth far more than that.

Voice (E)mails:

Don’t write anymore. Start dictating and send out voice messages, they take a lot less time to record. Then send them to people who really need to know the information, and keep them brief (less than 15 seconds would be great!).

Timers:

Use apps for timers on your phone. This is something that will help you become more productive. Also, it will help you use the device that may have cost you hundreds of euros or dollars for something useful.

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News Feeds:

Stop reading news sites and getting distracted by things you don’t need. Create your own news channels and read them. There are services you can use for this and they create a news stream that is just for you with the news you need or want. Focus on what is important, not on what is published.

Camera:

Use the phone camera to record settings or situations that give you a good feeling or motivate you. Capture notes or white board overviews and be done with it. And no, you don’t need to share that then with your Twitter friends!

When you do this, your phone becomes a productivity tool again. I believe my phone is made for that. I don’t want you to suffer from having a tool that drains your energy and robs you of being creative and productive.

Make your phone a real smartphone — except this time you are smarter because you know how to take control back.

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Enjoy!

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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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