How to Up Your Brain Game: Improve Your Productivity & Focus!

We live in an “ADD society,” where we are continually being bombarded with tons of information on a daily basis. Technology has influenced the way our brains selectively focus and our productivity, as Marvin Chun explains in further detail below.

Marvin Chun - TEDx - What Makes Some Brains More Focused Than Others?

8 Ways To Improve Productivity, Focus & Cognition
Even though the world we live in is perhaps full of more distractions than it was a few centuries ago, there is still a lot one can do to improve brain power, focus and productivity.
1) Focus On One Thing At A Time
As Chun said, our brains are wired only to perceive or focus on one thing at a time.

This extends out not only to what we see but also to what we think about, the tasks we are doing and the mode of thinking we use at any given point in time, whether logical or creative.

Our focus is also affected when we try to switch up different kinds of tasks, such as jumping between two different tasks every 2 minutes, instead of completing one before moving on the other. The neurons required to do the one task are firing before we have to switch to a different set of neurons to do the other task.

The same applies to constantly checking your phone or emails. Any time you are interrupted from the current task you are doing, your focus will be hampered by the neuronal shift your brain has to make.

When you are not interrupted, your brain can optimize itself by honing in on it, often resulting in speedy delivery.

So it is important to stick to one thing at a time and not to distract your brain, even if you distract with other tasks that you need to do!

2) Simplify Things
Simplifying what you are doing at any given time helps for the brain to run smoother. This also works hand-in-hand with focusing on one thing at a time.

Cut out any unnecessary information that you don’t need to deal with currently and just focus solely on what you have to do. You will likely find that you can think better when only presented with the bare essentials that you need.

For example, you may think you are focusing on one task at a time, but when you look at it, you can break it down into several sub-tasks.

Analyze what you are doing as well as what information you have in front of you and place all unnecessary components to the side until you need them.

Another point to make here is that your workspace may be cluttered with things that will hamper your focus too. Clutter counts as excessive information that your brain decodes as sensory input, which can be improved with some order.

The clearer your workspace is, the better your mind will be able to think and just focus on one thing at a time.

Also, if you are going to listen to music simultaneously while doing a task, instrumental music that does not make you feel tense works the best, such as calm classical music.

3) Relax & Don't Stress
On the note of listening to calm classical music from the previous section, being calm is very important for maintaining good focus, mental clarity and heightened cognition.

Some may argue that being put under a little pressure helps them to focus better, while the research clearly shows that being anxious or stressed definitely detracts from productivity and focus[1]The effects of stress and stress hormones on human cognition: Implications for the field of brain and cognition.

The reason for this can be explained by the biological mechanisms that stress operates.

We feel stressed when our central nervous system is activated, which increases stress hormones and our heart rate, sending blood to our periphery – including our brains. It also releases large amounts of glucose from the liver. This is one way that coffee gives us a feeling of alertness and energy, but can ultimately lead to fatigue in the long-run.

Increasing levels of stress hormones tend to interfere with the emotional centers of our brains too, such as the amygdala. This starts to disengage the parts of our brain that would otherwise be used to think rationally and also alters our ability to focus optimally.

Lastly, stress ultimately causes our bodies to release inflammation, especially when coupled with a strong emotion like anger, fear or despair. Inflammation in the brain limits our ability to do much, including focus. Not to mention, this contributes to neurodegeneration.

Enhance your focus, reduce stress, and get a grip on how you perceive the world through learning how to meditate!
4) Eat a Balanced Diet
Eating a healthy diet rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, healthy fats and proteins, is very important to maintain focus and enhance cognition.

Green vegetables contain an especially high level of antioxidants. By adding this green powder into smoothies or raw food every day, you can start to boost your health.

These essential nutrients get broken down in the body and used by all cells, including brain cells, to repair the body, produce more energy and enhance overall functioning.

All of these nutrients are found in a natural, unprocessed diet of wholefoods. Most people do not consume enough of these foods and therefore are deficient in essential nutrients required for proper focus and energy, such as magnesium and potassium.

Aside from ensuring one gets adequate amounts of nutrition, you also need to eat fiber-rich foods and some probiotic foods to encourage a healthy gut microbiome.

The bacteria in your gut process your food for you into a form that your body can readily absorb. There is little point in eating a healthy diet if your microbiome is compromised, as you will absorb a much lesser portion of the nutrients from your food.

Probiotic bacteria also enhance cognition and focus by producing a whole host of antioxidant fatty acids as well as neurotransmitters like serotonin.

5) Exercise
Frequent moderate exercise is one of the best ways to lower stress and boost your concentration.[2]Effects of physical exercise on depression, neuroendocrine stress hormones and physiological fitness in adolescent females with depressive symptoms

A mix of resistance training exercise and aerobic exercise is the best to achieve this.

There are also many forms of exercise such as yoga or Tai Chi which work to lower stress more effectively than other forms of exercise by mimicking mindfulness meditation to a lesser extent.

6) Keep Hydrated
Drinking enough water is vital. One of the first signs that you are dehydrated is fatigue accompanied by a lack of focus.

Don’t drink straight tap water as it is often polluted with chemicals such as fluorine that will not help your brain. Instead opt for filtered tap water or mineral water.

If you are drinking reverse osmosis water, make sure to add back some minerals into it by using some pink Himalayan salt or another suitable mineral salt alternative.

7) Supplements For Enhanced Focus
Mineral and Vitamin supplements will help you to focus better, although they are not as effective as eating a variety of different colored vegetables.

Incredibly potent natural mineral supplements also exist which have been shown to enhance energy levels, cognition and focus too – namely Shilajit and other ionic fulvic mineral complexes.

If stress is your main problem, then taking a very potent antioxidant such as ecklonia cava extract can help you greatly. It is also a source of over 200 natural antioxidant nutrients that are readily absorbed by your gut – plus it promotes a better quality of sleep.

Ecklonia Cava is a species of brown algae, which happens to be an exceedingly rich source of antioxidant nutrients. Research shows that Ecklonia Cava Extract begins to correct the circadium rhythm and improve sleep.

8) Make Sure You Sleep Enough
The average person needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Teens and children need even more hours than that.[3]Sleep Needs

Skimping on sleep is not healthy or wise.

All the biological processes in our bodies function in tune with our Circadian Rhythm, which is also known as the sleep-wake cycle.[4]The Biology of Sleep This cycle is mostly regulated by light – during the day we are awake, and at night we are asleep. Your Circadian Rhythm is established when you are a child and still controls your bodily processes, even if you stay up all night.

When we sleep we detoxify waste products from our systems as well as consolidate information. Most of these processes occur in the first half of the night when we undergo the majority of our deep sleep. The second half of the night is mostly spent entering REM or dream-filled sleep – this occurs in the early hours of the morning before sunrise.

If you stay up late, you are at risk of missing out on critical hours of deep sleep, which will leave you waking up feeling less refreshed.

To enhance your focus, it is best to sleep before 10-11pm. Winding down an hour before at 9-10pm with a relaxing activity in the presence of a dim light helps a lot. You should also avoid screens during this time for the best results.

Vitamin D3 has been clinically proven to help people with sleeping disorders and is quickly being considered as the number one nutritional deficit on a global scale.

This powerful Vitamin is required for our immune system, to reduce inflammation, to maintain optimal bone health and to ensure optimal brain, heart and lung function. If you have a respiratory problem or allergies, this can also aid you to breathe better and reduce the effects of allergy.

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