10 top tips to boost your brain power.
- Buy a good office chair, or get a standing desk.
Correct posture and ergonomics plays a HUGE part in productivity and brain function.
- Ban multitasking.
Your brain cannot multitask. If you try, your brain has to switch back and forth between tasks very quickly. Interrupted attention takes 50% longer to accomplish a task, makes up to 50% more errors and depletes your memory resources very quickly. Did you know that people using a mobile phone while driving are four times more likely to have an accident, because it isn’t possible to devote full attention to both driving and talking at the same time? Focus on one task at a time, and you’ll accomplish each better and faster–without killing anybody.
- Engage all of your senses.
You can make work more interesting for your brain by engaging the senses. Coloured paper and pens, background music and pleasant aromas in your work space will stimulate your brain and make you more alert.
- Limit concentrated work and decisions to six hours a day.
Making decisions and working in a deeply focused way depletes your cognitive reserves of executive function, (the mental system involved in abstract thinking, planning” Mistakes occur if your brain is in overload.
- Take a quick break every 20 minutes.
You can focus your attention much longer when you give your brain something different to think about every 20 minutes. That gives your brain the chance to refresh the neural network you’ve been using. A quick puzzle, a walk outside, chat with a friend?
- Know when YOU work best.
Schedule important meetings for times when you will be thinking clearly. Know if you are an early bird or a night owl and plan your work around your won needs.
- Learn to relax for 10 minutes in every 90.
You know when your brain is feeling fatigued: you feel restless, hungry, sleepy and reach for a coffee! You don’t actually NEED sleep though – that is your brain signalling that it has cycled from higher alertness (busy beta waves) to lower alertness (alpha waves) which happens around every 90 minutes. At that point, you become less able to focus, think clearly, or see the big picture. You stop feeling productive and start feeling stressed. When that happens, deliberately disengage for 10 minutes so that your brain ‘resets’ your alertness. You might do a relaxation or mindfulness exercise, pet an animal, go for a quick jog, take a hot shower, pick up your craft item, practice the piano, or look at paintings.
- Take power naps.
The human ability to learn declines as the day wears on and researchers found that an afternoon power nap increased scores on memory tests by 20%. One CEO held his pen upright during his power naps – when it fell, he woke up refreshed!
- The natural world refreshes your brain and attention.
Involuntary attention (quite different from the kind of attention you need for work) is engaged by a walk in the park, a glance out the window at the trees, hearing bird song or even a view of nature photographs. This ‘effortless attention’ enhances concentration and refreshes the mind.
- Take your vacation.
When you can, stop thinking about the office, go right away and refresh your brain by engaging in activities quite different from your working day. You’ll be more productive for longer and the perspective and alert brain you need to be at your best.
References: The New England Journal of Medicine, Scientific American
For more reading 8 Rules for Your Business Brain