Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Here are 5 hacks that can help you train your brain.
Tip: Start with one. Pick something you can incorporate into your schedule today. Then, practice it throughout the week. Once you get the hang of it, try another. Experiment. Take note of how your brain reacts to the change and how it adapts. See what works best for you and which change has the biggest effect on your mental performance.

Hack #1. Do your hard work first.
You can’t expect your brain to work fast if you leave the most complex tasks for later in the evening. Why not? The answer lies in your circadian rhythm, i.e. your biological clock. For most of us, our peak performance time for solving analytical tasks is around 2 hours after we wake up. Use this time for mental activities such as reading and reviewing, writing, problem-solving and developing your critical thinking skills.
Make your mornings count. If your alarm goes off at 8, take advantage of your peak focus times which are 2 hours after, in this case between 10 a.m. and noon.

Hack #2. Condense your time.
Don’t let a mental task take hours to complete. Just because you’ve set aside half the day to cover a certain amount of study material or work on a project does not mean that your brain will be able to pay attention the entire time. Instead, use a timer to get your mind to work within a deadline you set for yourself.
Try the Pomodoro technique for short 25-minute increments to cover one assignment (homework, problem-solving, exercises), then take a 5 minute break.

Hack #3. Make your brain prioritize.
Like everyone else, your average day probably consists of juggling multiple priorities and worrying whether you’ll get everything done in time to meet various deadlines. Why not train your brain to focus early so that it knows where to use energy on what matters most to you?
Start each morning with this question: What is the one thing I am committed to completing today? Write it on a large sheet of paper, then hang it somewhere so you see it first thing when you wake up (on your bedroom or bathroom wall, for example). Then, think which task is your top priority to finish that day, and answer your question out loud.

Hack #4. Think on your feet.
Don’t wait until later in the day to start thinking about a problem or challenge you’re facing at school or work. Instead, use some of your downtime to mull things over in your head. The benefit? When you interrupt your work with a pause, you actually improve cognitive function by creating a task-specific tension; this is a well-known concept in psychology called the Zeigarnik effect. Taking a break allows your brain to keep the problem top of mind, focus better, and easily access the information to solve the problem faster.
One idea is to take a walk after your lunch or dinner break. It will give your brain a chance to reflect on what you’ve absorbed during your busy day. Another idea is to use the breaks between study or work sessions to do something completely unrelated to your work: cooking a meal, reading a book for pleasure, listening to or playing music, running an errand, making a phone call to a friend, or going outside for some sun and fresh air.

Hack #5. Reboot your brain with sleep.
If you think that you must stay up late (or all night!) to cram for an exam or meet an important deadline for work, you’re not giving your brain the opportunity to function optimally. Over time, the odds are stacked against you, because chronic sleep deprivation can impact your concentration, reduce your cognitive abilities so you need more time to complete even simple tasks, and can even reduce your IQ. Make sure that you adjust your work schedule so you have time to reboot and renew your energy.
There’s an easy way to train your brain to wind down at the same time each night: by incorporating a simple nighttime routine. The benefit? You don’t run the risk of forgetting what time it is and then feeling groggy the next morning because you haven’t rested enough. Plus, a nighttime routine helps you chill out faster and prepare for bedtime.

Circadian Rhythm – The Biological Clock Affecting Your Performance


No comments: