This curated column is authored by Srinivas Rao, Founder, unmistakablecreative.com
We all have the ability to maximize our cognitive capabilities. The last several years of brain science have revealed that our brains are incredibly plastic and can be rewired. We can form new habits and change our behavior. We can become more productive, prolific, and happier by leveraging some very simple “brain hacks” that don’t require years of meditating at an Ashram. With these brain hacks, we can experience significant gains in performance.
1. Reduce Information Overload
If you listen to every podcast about entrepreneurship, subscribe to 100 newsletters, and read dozens of articles every day, you’re probably not getting as much out of what you consume as you could. When you’re endlessly consuming information, you don’t give your brain time to actually process what you’ve consumed. Since excessive consumption limits your creativity, reducing information overload will likely increase it. Here are a few ways to reduce information overload
- Turn off all your devices for a bit of time each day.
- Don’t turn on devices when you wake up in the morning
- Plan your days the night before
2. Stop Multitasking
Multitasking actually makes us sick. It leads to a buildup of cortisol, the stress hormone that decreases our memory and contributes to increased brain cell death. — Sandra Bond Chapman, Make Your Brain Smarter
Multitasking doesn’t just cause you to be inefficient. It literally destroys your brain. Most of us would never get shitfaced drunk day after day because we know that alcohol destroys brain cells. But we don’t have a problem with excessive multitasking because it doesn’t seem nearly as harmless. Multitasking destroys our ability to focus and inhibits flow.
3. Prioritize Integrated Reasoning over Rote Learning
Rote learning is what we more or less did in school. We memorized information to the point where we could regurgitate it so we could get good grades and pass tests. But this surprisingly doesn’t do all that much for improving our cognitive capabilities. If we want to do more than pass standardized tests, we have to get good at integrated reasoning.
“Integrated reasoning will energize your thinking as well as increase the biological well-being of your brain. Simply put, you are promoting your integrated reasoning intellect when you actively synthesize new meanings continually. You are exercising integrated reasoning when you:
Form uncommon ideas
Identify new problems
Generate and revise workable solutions
Reject or accept possible directions” — Sandra Bond Chapman
Many of my ideas for the articles I write come from conversations that I’ve had on The Unmistakable Creative Podcast. Additionally, those conversations impact changes I’ll make to my daily habits and behavior. This is what the author of Make your Brain Smarter would call integrated reasoning.
4. Work in 45–90 Minute Blocks and Take Breaks
The structure of school and the 8 hour work day somehow convinced us that this was an optimal way to work and learn despite the fact our attention spans aren’t that long and we experience diminishing returns on cognitive performance throughout the day. When we work in 45–90 minute blocks we’re less likely to get burned out.
5. Spend time Doing Absolutely Nothing Each Day
Doing nothing is harder than it sounds. Most of us are used to endlessly clicking, scrolling and swiping throughout our days. This not only creates more information overload, it gradually destroys our capacity for focus, attention, and presence, all of which are critical to your cognitive capabilities. When you do something like go for a walk, and text people, upload pictures to Instagram or tweet, you’re effectively missing out on the benefits of the walk.
A few days ago I had a chance to speak with author Gay Hendricks about Finding Your Zone of Genius and Exceeding Your Personal Limitations. What he said about doing nothing really struck me:
I’ve found that disciplining myself to do nothing is just as important as disciplining myself to do something because there’s a great deal of something and there’s always something to be done. Nothing is kind of a rare commodity, feeling the sensation of open space within yourself instead of the traffic jam of information of ideas that are bouncing around in your head…In that space of creating nothingness so many new ideas are born. I’ve created and sold several major businesses to publicly traded companies in my entrepreneurial life and all of those came from meditation. — Gay Hendricks
Apparently, there’s an ROI to doing nothing. Who would have guessed?
Will these 5 things turn you into a genius overnight? No. But the more you make them a consistent habit, the more you’ll be able to maximize your brain’s creative potential.
Before You Go…
If doing the best work of your life is important to you, check out my free guide: “Optimizing Productivity & Creativity.”
The tactics I’ve packed into this guide allowed me to write over 1 million words in the last 2 years. What could it do for your life’s work? Don’t miss it.
Image Credit: INLIFE Healthcare
Disclaimer: This is a curated post. The statements, opinions and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of iamwire or its editor(s). This article was originally published by the author here.