• Cezang

What is the most powerful technique to make your brain sharp?

You’re in luck—because there isn’t only one.

There are many powerful techniques that improve concentration, boost focus, and positively affect brain function. The trick is in trying out what works best for you, then practicing the technique on a regular basis so that you can achieve results.

Here are 3 brain training techniques that have made the biggest impact on my focus and concentration. I’ll explain each technique in 3 sections to emphasize how it keeps your brain sharp, why I think it’s important, and how you can practice it in your daily life. I hope you find these techniques useful.

Technique #1. Ask yourself one simple question every morning: “What is the ONE THING I am committed to completing today?”

How does it keep you brain sharp?

It helps to boost your focus at the beginning of the day.

Why do I think it’s important?

This single habit is probably the biggest game changer for me. As soon as I wake up, I look forward to practicing it because I know it will positively affect my concentration. This tiny question simplifies my life, it helps my brain focus faster, it makes me prioritize goals, and it streamlines my work so I don't feel overwhelmed about having to accomplish too many things in a single day.

How can you start practicing it?

Write the question in big bold letters on a sheet of paper and hang it on your bedroom or bathroom wall. The important part is that you can easily see it as you’re brushing your teeth or getting ready.

Read it out loud as you start the day, and come up with an answer on the spot. The trick is to get your eyes on it so that it becomes second nature and you don’t even think about having to glance over to it any more.

Keep your answer top of mind as you go through your daily work and tasks, so that you don’t get distracted by other things that might take you away from what’s important to you. It will be a constant reminder of what’s your top priority.

Technique #2. Do your “deep work” early.

How does it keep you brain sharp?

It allows you to tap into your limited willpower reserves so that you can get the toughest mental tasks out of the way first.

Why do I think it’s important?

Deep work—any kind of analytical thinking that requires the most concentration, such as reading, writing, analyzing or problem solving—requires a different kind of focus from other more tactical things we do on a regular basis. I’ve noticed that when I switched to doing my deep work early (instead of in the evening), I don’t run out of energy or motivation. In addition, it frees up my afternoons and evenings for socializing, working out, and devoting time to my personal life and interests.

How can you start practicing it?

Set aside 2-4 hours after you wake up for deep work. Many scientists say that this is the brain’s peak performance time. If, for example, you wake up at 7, your peak times are between 9 and 11 a.m. You can extend this time to whenever you have lunch (which is usually around midday) if you want to maximize your peak performance hours.

For one week, keep a log of what you do during your peak times. Are you focusing on your important mental tasks? Are you learning new material, solving complex problems, reading, or writing? For most people, this time is usually spent commuting to work, checking email, making phone calls, listening to the news, chatting with co-workers or attending meetings.

Redesign your peak brain performance time. Think how you can rearrange the things you do early that are less important to your personal and professional development. Do you have to stay on top of the latest news? Save this activity for your lunch break or right after lunch. Are there emails waiting in your inbox? Be careful of how much time it takes to check email; it can literally take over your day. Choose 2 blocks of time to read them, one midday and one closer to the end of your workday.

Technique #3. Feed your brain right.

How does it keep you brain sharp?

It helps to keep your brain engaged and keeps it in learning mode, even when it’s in a “resting” state as you’re running errands, commuting, or relaxing.

Why do I think it’s important?

Back in the day when I had cable television, I noticed that my free time would go by very quickly as I watched popular shows, movies I didn’t find mentally stimulating, or listening to radio programs laced with endless commercials. The biggest disadvantage was that I couldn’t identify anything of value from all that so-called entertainment. Over time, I realized that I needed to be much more selective about how I want to spend my free time so that it is both beneficial to my personal development and a source of entertainment.

How can you start practicing it?

Listen to podcasts. They’re excellent brain food, help you manage your time better as you commute or work out, and can even improve your critical-thinking and creative skills. Some of my current favorites include Optimize with Brian Johnson, The Art of Charm, Kwik Brain Podcast, The James Altucher Show, and The Tim Ferriss Show. If you’d like more recommendations on specific episodes, click here.

Watch documentaries. It’s entertainment and learning, combined with fascinating details and often excellent storytelling (especially if they’re created by BBC). You’ll find many on YouTube for free. Some ideas are The Ancient Worlds, Empire of the Tsars, and the entire BBC channel Timeline: World History Documentaries. If you like to geek out on ancient Greece like I do, watch Athens: The Dawn of Democracy narrated by historian Bethany Hughes.

Read more books. Do you know that reading fiction improves brain function and boosts connectivity in the brain? Neuroscientists from Emory University published a study called Short and Long Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain that explains this benefit in detail. To make reading a daily practice, start with the basics: get a library membership, download the Goodreads app to help you find topics and writers that interest you, and read up on Quora’s literary fiction topic and novel recommendations to get started on your brain-boosting literary journey.

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