The hard truth about the world is that we all have just 24 hours in which to accomplish everything we want to do. But while it’s true that some people use those hours more effectively than others, you aren’t set at some baseline productivity level that can never change. Just like you can train yourself to run a race with daily jogs, you can train your brain for maximum productivity with the following techniques:
Tip #1 – Try a brain training game
Though the idea of brain training might sound rigorous and dull, there are plenty of fun ways to challenge your mind with games and apps. A few fun options include:
- Brain Age for Nintendo
- Brain Challenge for iOS devices
Don’t want to pay a ton for a digital program? Pick up a cheap book of crossword puzzles, Sudoku games or logic puzzles from your local drugstore. Though they’re static alternatives, they’re just as valuable to your mind.
Tip #2 – Learn something new
If you want your brain to be as productive as possible, you’ve got to train it to get used to processing new stimuli and filing away new thoughts effectively. And one of the best ways to do this is to learn something new.
That something new could be anything from a new language to a new sport. Hell, even picking up a book on a subject you aren’t familiar with can be a great way to start building new neural pathways and to get your mind used to properly managing new input. Both of these benefits can contribute tremendously to your ability to work productively in the future.
Tip #3 – Do your hardest work first
Though most of us tend to start off with our easiest tasks, this isn’t a good habit to get into based on how our brains operate. Because our minds require a certain amount of processing power in order to think creatively and be productive, every task that we undertake depletes these resources.
According to David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work:
“An hour into doing your work, you’ve got a lot less capacity than (at the beginning). Every decision we make tires the brain.”
If you want your mind to work as productively as possible, train yourself to work on your most challenging tasks first, as well as those that require an abundance of energy. It may be hard to think about diving into something serious when you’re first sitting down to work, but forming this habit will ensure that you have the mental faculties needed to get through all of your scheduled activities.
Tip #4 – Change your routines
Often times, we get into habits that prevent the brain from having to work too hard. Take a second and put your hand up to your mouth as if you were about to start brushing your teeth. Odds are, your hand moved automatically to the same spot it does every morning – without you having to think about it.
In some way, these routines are helpful, as they free up mental processing power to focus on more important tasks. But they certainly aren’t challenging your brain in any way!
To train your brain to be more flexible and creative, make it a point to uncover any subconscious routines you’re currently engaging in and change them. If you always take the same route to work, try a different path next time. Or if you always write with your right hand, try to improve your penmanship with your left.
Changing your routines may be frustrating at first, but doing so is a powerful way to strengthen the synapses in your brain – leading to better mental processing all around.
Tip #5 – Give yourself ample processing time
In addition, recognize that periods of rest are crucial when it comes to training your brain. While you rest or sleep, your mind is hard at work processing and assimilating all of the new information you’ve taken in. As a result, if you don’t give yourself enough downtime, your brain training attempts may actually backfire by overloading your brain’s capacity.
So if you’re ever feeling like your mind is too full to concentrate, there’s a good chance that it is. Take a break and give your mind time to recharge so that you can return to your activities with a fresh start and a clear head in the future.
Finally, keep in mind that brain training shouldn’t be a “one off” occurrence. If you really want these changes to stick and to become as productive as you can, challenge your mind on a regular basis. The results of this continued effort may be subtle, but – trust me – they’ll be powerful as well!