Have you ever experienced a brain cramp after a long day?
It’s that ache that begins to saturate your forehead and pool into your temples. It’s our brain telling us to slow down, because it’s no longer being productive.
Today, everyone is constantly throwing more tasks and information at us, and it’s impossible to deal with it all. Our modern day solution is to resort to consuming caffeine or simply toughening up and persisting to increase productivity. It doesn't have to be this way!
Why you need to rest
Throughout much of the 20th century, scientists disregarded the idea that our brains might be productive during rest.
It wasn’t until 1929, that German neurologist Hans Berger disproved this notion using an electroencephalogram (device that measures brain impulses) to propose that the brain is in constant activity.
What does this mean?
Our brain consolidates recently accumulated information, and essentially rehearses recently learned skills. Most of us have observed how, after a good night’s sleep, the vocab words we struggled to remember the previous day suddenly leap into our minds or that technically challenging piano song is much easier to play. Dozens of studies have confirmed that memory depends on sleep.
We’ve all wanted to squeeze in that extra few hours of learning in the day, despite how tired we feel. These studies show that you’ll be much more productive resting your brain and picking it up again when you’re fresh!
So what are some of the best ways to rest your brain?
4 Powerful Ways to double your brain power and increase productivity
1. Practice the art of not thinking
The skill of not thinking is one that is easier said than done.
Our brains are wired to constantly be thinking, that it feels strange to simply shutting of our thoughts. In fact, the average individual has over 60,000 thoughts a day!
This is where meditation comes in.
For decades now, meditating has been the go to practice for stress relief.The endless benefits of meditation includes: increased attention span, improving brain function, better quality of sleep, and more.
Meditation does not necessarily mean sitting cross-legged in a pitch black room with your eyes closed (although it could). Depending on your personality, meditation could mean a mantra you say to yourself, a relaxing breakfast where you savor each bite, or it could even mean taking a nice, long hike. Here are the several unique ways to meditate, depending on your personality.
Priming is another powerful method that can help you feel more energy by changing your physical state, boost brain power, and preparing your mind to increase productivity in the morning.If forcing yourself not to think seems impossible, then priming may be for you.
Here is the method that Tony Robbins advocates:
The first thing you should do is change your physical state. This could mean hopping into a cold shower, doing a few jumping jacks, or deep breathing for 30 seconds. If you want to learn the full method of breathing that Tony preaches, click here to listen.
From there, you:
#1. Sit up on your bed or chair and close your eyes.
#2. Think of three things that you’re grateful for, spending one minute thinking of each (3 minutes)
Ask yourself questions like:
- Who do you love?
- Who loves you?
- What is the wealth you have currently in your life — technology? choices? friends? books? ideas? opportunities?
- What’s right in your life?
- What’s beautiful?
- What’s magical?
#3. Think of three things that you envision yourself creating in your life. Focus on the future, but state it as if you have already achieved it.
It could be:
- “I’m a successful entrepreneur, living life the way I want, with my own rules.”
- “I have the deepest, most loving relationship with my partner.”
- “I can speak fluent Spanish and able to connect with anyone as I travel.”
3. Take strategic breaks
Sleep deprivation is a big deal, and even a norm in our society.
A recent Harvard study estimated that sleep deprivation costs American companies $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity. When we’re working at high intensity for more than 90 minutes, we begin to rely on stress hormones — adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol — to keep us going. In the process, we move from parasympathetic to a sympathetic arousal — a physiological state more commonly known as “fight or flight.”
This doesn’t have to mean sleeping 10 hours a day, instead of your normal 8.By taking strategic naps during the day, you can revitalize your mind and give your brain the rest it needs to increase productivity.
When night shift air traffic controllers were given 40 minutes to nap — and slept an average of 19 minutes — they performed higher on tests that measured vigilance and reaction time.
Longer naps have an even more profound impact than shorter ones. Sara C. Mednick, a sleep researcher at the University of California, Riverside, found that a 60 to 90-minute nap improved memory test results as fully as did eight hours of sleep.
In addition to strategic naps, a tactic that is shared by Buffer is called the Pomodoro Technique.
Here’s how it works:
This means 25 minutes of distraction-free work — without Facebook, phone notifications, or multi-tasking! Just one task only.
If you’re serious about testing out the Pomodoro Technique, here are the tools required to get started:
How many Pomodoro’s should you go through per day?
One of the writers at Buffer experimented this on himself, and found that he only needed 40 Pomodoro’s in order to get all of his weekly tasks done.
Keep in mind, this will depend on each individual and you should adjust everything shared according to your own preference. This could mean working in 40 minute spurts instead of 25, or taking 10 minutes off instead of 5. Go nuts!
4. Have a support team
No matter what we’re doing, we weren’t meant to go at it alone.
Whether it’s a friend, family, partner, or coach, building a support team of positive people around you is one of the most effective ways to rest your brain and maintain your health.
For high-level executives, this could mean working with a business coach to help them make better decisions.
For business owners, this could mean outsourcing tasks that you hate doing, that will give you the time and headspace to focus on what you love doing.
For language learners, this could mean working with a language coach, to save you the wasted time that comes with learning on your own, and keeping you accountable.
"Individually we are one drop. But together, we are an ocean."
Going at it alone can be the biggest stressor and detriment for many of us.
Build yourself a pond, then a lake, and soon you will have an ocean.
Over to you!
Which of these tips was your favorite to increase productivity?What is your experience with burning out and lacking rest?Share with us below!p.s - if you enjoyed this, you'll also enjoy reading How to Find More Time In Your Schedule to Learn Something New, and 7 Research-Backed Ways to Stop Procrastinating (And Get More Done)