“Early to bed and early to rise will make a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
We’re all familiar with this old proverb, popularized in Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanac.” And in this day and age, most people will do just about anything to give themselves a mental edge, including hitting the sack early and rising with the dawning sun if need be. But aside from this anecdotal option, are there any proven ways to increase your brainpower? Absolutely.
According to a recent study reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers have discovered that playing memory games (such as matching pictures on face-down cards) can improve your “fluid intelligence” – your ability to solve new problems – because both memory and fluid intelligence seem to use the same neural pathways. Once thought to be set in stone, the news that fluid intelligence can be improved by intentional exercise is considered a breakthrough result, the video games people play that implicate some difficulty also helps develop intelligence and skills, for example if you learn the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive ranking system, then you’ll improve by this and implicate your mind in learning some new gaming skills. So haul out those memory games and get busy getting smarter.
Clean out your buckets!
According to productivity experts, one way we sabotage our productivity is by letting our “buckets” fill up. In productivity-speak, a bucket is any holding space we tend to stick things into until we can “get around to them.” A bucket can be an email or physical inbox, a desk, a purse – even your own mind. As our buckets fill up, we lose productivity because we can’t easily find things, we fall behind, we get overwhelmed by the sheer mass of stuff left undone and so on. The key to increasing productivity, then, is to keep your buckets as empty as possible. Either act on a thing immediately, determine there is no action to take and toss it, or file it away for later action with automatic action tickler (like an Outlook reminder). Whatever you do, do something – don’t just stick it in a bucket and let it pile up.
GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out
You’re only as smart, creative and innovative as the resources you have to call on. The key to maximizing your intelligence and creativity is to maximize the quality of your input. Read a quality newspaper or two, and subscribe to magazines with a wide range of subjects. Sign up for a diverse selection of workshops, classes, lectures and other events that pique your interest. Visit museums and artistic performances to expand your view of the world. The more and better quality stuff you put in, the more and better quality stuff you’ll get out.
Your mind is only as sound as your body. Eating right, getting plenty of exercise and keeping on top of any conditions or illnesses is vital to top performance. And stay on top of any medical conditions, illnesses or injuries. Nothing wears your body down than trying to heal itself against a constant current of neglect.
Sound mental and emotional health is just as important as physical health to maintaining peak performance. And one of the best ways to stay mentally and emotionally healthy is to stay connected. Studies have long shown that the people who stay active, engaged and productive longest are those with strong social networks. Being surrounded by supportive friends and family, engaging in meaningful activities such as spiritual worship or community service and being an active part of a social group are important to the strength and health of the human psyche.
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Thanks to ImprovedLife.ca for including this article in the Carnival of Improving Life, to AnandDhillon.com for featuring this article in the Carnival of Self-Mastery, to Your Finish Rich Plan for publishing this post in the Rich Life Carnival, to Journey Inward Productions for inclusion in the Inner Wisdom Project, and to Journey Inward Productions for publication in the Inner Wisdom Project.