Brain hacks: a biohacking movement, which uses simple tricks and techniques to upgrade the performance of your body and mind.
While this phrase may sound like millennial gibberish, there’s truth behind it - cognitive exercises are scientifically proven to help with productivity and sharpen your brain, regardless of your age, profession, or IQ.
In this digital world, working as a business professional requires more concentration than ever before. We have emails flying at us during all hours of the day, constant tweets, Instagram notifications, Facebook messages, LinkedIn updates and an overwhelming amount of information being thrown at us—and our brains are tired. Although many of us have learned how to be excellent multi-taskers in our daily lives, it doesn’t mean we’re advancing in mental capacity. In fact, it’s been proven that multi-tasking lowers IQ and reduces our intelligence. Understanding your brain’s limitations and improving it with tools and exercises can help to cut out the distractions, increase productivity and get you up to speed in today’s fast moving professional society.
Here are 5 tools to become a more focused and productive individual:
1. Download Lumosity
Lumosity is a brain-training app that was created by a unique group of scientists and game designers to help people keep their brains challenged. The app consists of 50+ user-friendly challenging games that allow you to sharpen their cognitive skills, on your own time and at your own pace. Lumosity offers daily workouts (aka games) that challenge your 5 core cognitive abilities. The games will also adapt to your specific skill level, so you can track your progress - let the dopamine releases flow!
2. Download BrainHQ
BrainHQ is all about the cognitive learning skills. The humans behind this challenging brain-training app researched neurological science and related medicine for over 30 years before launching their product. An international team of neuroscientists also designed it— so you know your brain is in good hands. Brain HQ is a daily tool but it doesn’t have to take over your life. You can play for as little as 5 minutes a day and you’ll still achieve some in-depth brain training. Brain HQ offers 29 levels that work out attention, brain speed, memory, people skills, navigation and intelligence—so you’ll never get bored, only smarter.
3. Download HeadSpace
After all of the strenuous tasks, meetings, brain training and hyper focused work, it’s critical to slow down, stop and recharge. That’s why Headspace is an important tool for anyone over worked and overwhelmed. This meditation app will teach you how to enter into a state of pure and deep meditation, which in time will calm your nerves and train your brain to refocus. It’s even proven to boost compassion (we all need a little more of that). Meditation may seem contradictory but reducing stress will help boost your work productivity and your mood—and nobody likes working with a grump.
4. Do Difficult Work First
People tend to put off their most challenging projects until later - a little thing called procrastination. In order to have the most productive and manageable day, start with your top priority task then work your way down to the meaningless to-do’s. This will help your drive and focus and leave you feeling accomplished at the end of your workday. As explained by Business Insider, “Psychologically, we prefer experiences that improve over time. That means it’s better for the annoying parts of a purchase to happen early in the experience. Furthermore, we don’t enjoy it when painful experiences are drawn out or repeated.”
To successfully maintain your task completion focus levels at work, try downloading an app to help limit distractions. For example, the app Freedom is an all-in-one distraction fighter for your cell phone and your laptop. Once you’ve installed it onto your computer or your cell phone you can block specific websites and applications that tend to slow down your workflow. Also, you can completely block the Internet—now that’s intense focus.
5. Listen To Music with Focus@Will
Although many bosses would argue this point, listening to music through headphones in a busy workplace can seriously up your performance rate and productivity. Dr. Amit Sood, a physician of integrative medicine with the Mayo clinic explained “melodious sounds help encourage the release of dopamine in the reward area of the brain, as would eating a delicacy, looking at something appealing or smelling a pleasant aroma.” Working with headphones on is also a great way to avoid your talkative co-workers or office drama.
Classical music or music without lyrics is also proven to increase workflow. Studies have shown that lyrics can distract from the tasks at hand and lead to confusion and irritability. Although classical music can oftentimes be distracting, it’s important to listen to music you’re familiar with. New music can be disturbing because it is surprising; with music you are familiar with you’ll expect the changes and focus more on your work.
Focus at Will is an app that uses neuroscience to find the perfect balance between familiarity and distraction through curated playlists across a multitude of genres. Use of the app has been proven to increase productivity and focus levels by up to four times, and you don’t have to expend extra time or energy creating a personalized playlist.