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Learn A Few Secrets to Serious Productivity and Keeping Your Brain Sharp

Monday Dec 10, 2012 | BY |
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brain health

A lot of people ask me about how I have produced blog post after blog post — and before that, video after video — for such a sustained amount of time (over 5 years now!)

I’d like to think it’s because of just one special drink or one super-skill that I’ve learned, but this is not the case.

It’s also not because I’m just wired differently or in some way gifted so that creating something every day is simply a breeze. For me, it’s not. In fact, I used to be a serious procrastinator.

So much so, that once I didn’t study for a statistics final my senior year in college. As the test date approached, I promised myself that I would head off the the library and get some solid book time under my belt. But suddenly, my test was two days away and I needed to change my tactic. I didn’t have time to study enough to pass it. I ran through dozens of scenarios to get out of taking the test and eventually, I found myself in my professor’s office asking what grade he would give me if I didn’t take the test at all. He promised me a D. I said, “I’ll take it.”

My GPA was much higher over the period of 4 years, but in this case, my procrastination caused me to end up with a grade that I wasn’t proud of — and also put me in a somewhat embarrassing position because I had to meet with my professor and explain the mess I had created for myself.

These days, I’m glad not to have professors, but also to have some control over my desire to put things off to the last minute. Look, I’m not perfect, some things do get done late, but I’m much more on time than I ever was.

One of the people who I’ve learned a lot about productivity and mind acrobatics is Jim Kwik.

I met Jim when I attended his speed reading course in White Plains, NY. I wanted to learn how to read faster in the same amount of time that I was already spending to gather research. To me, this was a good investment in money and time. If I could even get 10% better, I could either read more in that time or I could stop 10% earlier — both were agreeable.

After his course, I found that I was able to improve my reading speed — AND comprehension — nicely. So I feel like I’m able to gather and comprehend information at greater speeds than others — again, not because I’m that much smarter, but because I learned a skill.

In the following years, I’ve attended Jim’s events and Annmarie and I have become close friends with him and his wife. They even couch-sat for our couches while we were in the RV — this was my ploy that hopefully some of his smarts could transfer over to me by just sitting on the same seat he did. LOL.

Of course, I’m kidding about the knowledge transfer idea, but being friends with Jim has helped me glean some awesome mind tricks like memorizing lists and numbers (like my credit cards,) remembering where I put things, productivity, reading faster (as I mentioned before) and just an overall understanding of how my brain works and how I can get more out of it.

I’ve also met some of his amazing friends who are mind and productivity gymnasts as well.

(Jim’s hosting a live event tonight, actually, that you can listen in to that gives 60 of his top brain, memory and productivity tips here. If you miss the live one, you can listen to the recording at any time afterwords!)

So today, I want to leave you with my 4 tips that have increased my productivity that I’ve gleaned either from Jim or some of Jim’s super-minded friends. These tips are what I think help me keep my mind active and productive when there’s just so much going on around me.

Mind Power Tip #1: I eat for my brain.

As you know, I have a pretty good diet. But my focus on keeping my brain healthy has led me to some conclusions on what eating for brain superpowers really means.

First up, I make sure I have DHA and EPA. These come in various plant or animal forms, but regardless of the source, you need to feed your brain with these essential fatty acids. The better sources are high quality fish oils, high omega 3 plant oils like sacha inchi and chia, and algae sources of omega 3 oils.

Second, for nutrition, I make sure that I eat often. My brain starts to get jumbled when my blood sugar drops, so I need to have less time in between meals to keep my productivity humming and mood elevated. Some people don’t need to do this, but for me, I burn through my blood glucose fast — which requires me to continually re-up my stores.

Third, I eat mineral rich foods and herbs. Our bodies need minerals for so many things, but in reference to brain health and productivity, you have to be highly mineralized to function at superhero levels. If you’re not, your nervous system suffers and your signaling ability slows.

Mind Power Tip #2: I exercise (on my treadmill desk these days…)

Over the last 5 years, I’ve exercised extensively. It’s a key to, not only a great mind, but longevity. I attribute some of my staying power to exercising often.

Since Hudson has been born, I’ve given myself a little leniency on my workout routine and if it wasn’t for my treadmill desk I would be in trouble.

A few months ago, I was a little sickened by how much time I spent at a desk. So I decided to purchase a treadmill desk. Essentially, this is a stand up desk that has a treadmill underneath it.

I’ve managed to log hundreds of miles and hundreds of hours on this machine in just a few months — all time I would be sitting at a desk.

How does this improve my mind?

By walking, I’m increasing oxygen levels in my body. Oxygen makes just about everything go, and when you’re sitting — particularly at a computer — you’re likely not breathing well.

I’ve noticed a significant difference in the way I breathe with this desk which means I’m supplying my brain with more oxygen to solve more problems and get more done.

I’ll have more information in a complete article about my desk coming up soon, but for now, just know that exercising is on the top of my brain-boosting list.

Mind Power Tip #3: I get some sleep.

Before Hudson, our son, was born, I was able to regularly get sleep. For the last 5 months, this has not been the case.

But my lack of sleep has lead me to learn from the inverse of the situation.

Because Hudson is up between 5-6 AM and I’m only getting about 5-6 hours of sleep a night, I’m finding that my brain is more cloudy than I can ever remember.

Sometimes I find myself longing for just one morning that I can sleep in — which isn’t enough to totally recharge me — but would be at least a treat that would also help lift the gray weather in my head.

Mind Power Tip #4: There’s no guarantee that one day will be better or worse than the other.

This isn’t a physical tip, but a mental reminder that helps me keep moving forward…

By knowing that here’s no guarantee that one day will be better or worse than the other, I understand that not everything I do on any given day will be worthy of a Pulitzer prize (or anything, ever, for that matter, LOL!)

This allows me to be productive without having the stress of making everything a masterpiece. I have high quality standards — and they’ve getting even higher as time passes, (so I know I’ll put out something that is of value) but I understand that not everything I produce will be just as good or better than what I’ve produced in the past.

This, for a writer, eliminates 90% of writer’s block. For someone who’s not a writer, this can help you do just about anything on a regular basis with much less hesitation.

A baseball player is a perfect example to use to explain this. Some days they get a handful of hits, but most of the time, they get between zero and two. Over a season that could work itself out to a .300 batting average — which is good enough to win a batting title some years. But a player doesn’t improve every game or season. If so, some batters would hit .700 or more. This just isn’t how it happens. Some days are better than others. Some days you’re awesome, some days you stink.

What makes the difference is showing up and making the effort.

For me, I have the mindset of doing whatever it is regularly and giving it my best, even when I know it may come up short — or surprise me because it far exceeded my expectations.

There are of course other things that I’ve learned from Jim and others over the years, but these are some of the ones that give me the most — or, if I don’t do them, least — results.

If you have any super-secret brain hacks like I mentioned above, I’d like to know them as well — maybe you can help another reader (or me) improve their (or my) mental flexibility. Go ahead and share them in the comments below.

Also, if you want to learn 60 of Jim’s tricks on how to double your brain power, improve your memory, read faster and dozens of other tips as well, he’s putting on a webinar (replay will be available) tonight that you can listen in to live.

Here’s where you can check it out…

http://www.renegadehealth.com/kwikwebinar

I just got off the phone with him about two hours ago and he gave me a preview of what he’s going to cover, I’m pretty sure it will be worth your while to listen in.

Here’s that link again…

http://www.renegadehealth.com/kwikwebinar

Live Awesome!
Kev

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.

12 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

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  1. Great list! Tip #3 is the one I find it hard to get through to other people. Many of the highly driven people I know tend to regularly skimp on sleep in an effort to get more done–even when they know it’s a bad idea.

    I also find that taking 10 to 20 minutes to do absolutely nothing but sit and think helps keep my creativity firing and makes problem-solving a lot easier. An hour is even better, but doesn’t happen too often. No phone, tv, radio, computer, food, or drink. Just me and my thoughts, preferably outdoors. It’s amazing how well it works. It might be hard to pull off with a baby in the house though!

  2. Thanks for your great article Kevin!

    One thing I remind my clients to do is drink plenty water throughout the day. When you become dehydrated your brain won’t function as well either! So instead of reaching for another coffee to perk yourself up, have a glass of water (filtered or spring) instead.

    Another thing that I find really helpful for clearing your head is meditation. For those days where it seems hard to prioritize, and procrastination sets in because you’re simply overwhelmed, find a quiet place to meditate for at least 15 minutes. You’ll feel more refreshed, calmer and ready to tackle that list!

  3. David Gutman says:

    Hey Kevin,

    It’s interesting how taking care of our brain is in perfect sync with taking care of the rest of our body, especially our heart. Even our spiritual heart.
    Of course there are many, many things that can support our brain.
    I’ll tell you what works really well for my old brain (60 years old)- the name kind of gives it away. BrainOn, which, as I’m sure you know, is a Klamath Lake Blue Green Algae product from E3Live. It just gives me a balanced clarity and awake brain like very little else seems to do.

    Meditation works great too, sometimes. But for a lazy guy like me, it’s a lot easier just to down a little blue green algae.

  4. Yvonne says:

    Treadmill desk? I love that idea!!!! That’s the smartest thing I ever heard of! No wonder you feel good!

  5. Brynn says:

    I love the treadmill desk idea! It’s especially appealing during the winter, when the cold weather seems to erase my motivation to get to the gym.

  6. Evergreen says:

    Hey Kevin–

    Thanks for sharing these great tips and the webinar information. From my experience as a student I have found there are appropriate times to use my mind for serious study. I have also learned to recognize there are times when I can not function mentally (I need to eat, break or sleep). I accept both these mental capabilities. As I’ve been more accepting of how my brain works, I’m able to use each time with more appreciation and enjoy my breaks (guilt free).

    P.S. I’d love to see a picture of your treadmill desk!

  7. Tj Curran says:

    Hey Kevin. Interesting article and wonderful presentation. I’m a college student seeking a degree in nutritional medicine and research. Funny thing ive also delved into mental performance and memory tricks. Got any advice for me?

  8. Great Article Kevin!

    I also exercise daily (yoga, free-weights, bodyweight exercises, dance, jogging, change it up often), get enough sleep (like to sleep in pitch black, helps me to have deeper sleep) and eat highly mineralized foods for brain sharpness. I like to eat lighter in first part of day ( high-water content smoothies, soups etc) and then denser foods towards end of afternoon, and always finish eating at least 4 hours before bed or more. (The latter again for better sleep)

    The other things that work for me is getting sunlight first thing in the morn, even for a couple mins to regulate circadian rhythm (and help my sleep later). I keep windows open in my house throughout the year, and usually take a quick 20-30 minute midday racewalk for an oxygen circulating recharge.

    In lieu of a treadmill desk I created a desktop that goes up and down to make it easier to stand at. I can stand on one foot and work my core, rise up and down on my toes, or do leg lifts periodically while I work or am on the phone. Intermittenly I’ll sit again, but find my energy stays strong and my mind sharper when I include more standing. Also, when I sit it’s always on the edge of my seat- back straight, chin behind my chest. to keep from slouching which depletes energy too (by crunching up our midsection organs).
    -
    Finally, I agree with Candice and usually have a point in the day where I do nothing for at least 30-45 mins, it’s my “Nothing Time” just chill and relax.

    Looking forward to hearing the webinar and thanks!

  9. Hubert says:

    Are there treadmills that produce electricity so we can be more self sufficient?

  10. uka says:

    Very good tips, eating well, excercising, etc. is obvious, but ultimately I especially like the idea of:

    Only do your best – you do not have to be perfect.
    You get so much more things done!

    And sleep… yes, before my daughter (almost 3 years old now) was born I would have never thought I could survive with that little sleep, or not profound sleep. But co-sleeping and breastfeeding allready helped a lot.
    I “liberated” myself by now, no breastfeeding anymore since 4 months, and my daughter only gets up once at night and slips into our bed, since she started sleeping in her own.

  11. Dede says:

    great article Kevin!! – - thanks so much.
    and…Jim Kwik is awesome – thanks for the recommendation!! (plus – I’ll never forget another name after watching his presentation :-) )

  12. Tere says:

    I didn’t notice meditation in your top 5… By slowing down (i.e. sitting in a comfortable position for at least 15 mins and up to an hour), breathing consciously, sitting with myself and being with myself (even if it’s in the middle of a busy park or on a beach – or by myself in a quiet place) – sometimes following a mantra – sometimes not – helps me to retain/regain my focus so that my thoughts are clear and my actions are directed toward the intended goal… hope that helps some of your readers?… ta, Tere

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