8 (Mostly) Effortless Hacks to Ignite Major Change
Imagine it’s a midweek afternoon and you grab 10 minutes to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea. You pick up a magazine and begin to read. After a few minutes, you start checking the time, getting distracted. You find yourself thinking about how much you need to get done today. You begin to feel guilty for taking a few minutes for yourself.
Listen, these thoughts are common but not helpful. Sometimes, it feels like you’re running out of time, and this creates stress and anxiety. However, by adopting a few simple changes every day, you can make a major difference in your life, improve your brain health and even achieve peak mental performance.
Perhaps it’s time for you and your cell phone to go on a “break”
You can live without your cell phone at night. Why not swap it for an old-fashioned alarm clock? Neurofeedback data shows us this pattern: when we first wake up, our brainwaves shift gradually from the slow delta waves to the creative theta waves. Then, it moves into the relaxing alpha waves and finally to the alert beta waves.
If we check our phones first thing in the morning, we fast-track our brains right to the beta state — not an ideal way to start the day. So if you have a habit of looking at your phone for the first 30 minutes of the day, try cutting it. You’ll be surprised to see how that will lead to a huge boost in your creativity, organization and mood!
Why not try to kiss clutter goodbye?
It’s not the clutter at home we’re talking about. We’re talking about your phone’s home screen! Move the apps you don’t need daily off the first page, so you’re not tempted to begin scrolling. You can also take it a step further and organize apps into folders to make it more challenging to get to them. Having an organized phone or computer can easily save you an hour or more each day!
Bring on the power of prep
What if there is a way to save time on one hand, and use it more wisely on the other? It’s about using friction to your advantage. For example, If you’re not a morning person but you need to get moving early in the day, make sure to organize your necessities the night before. Have everything you need ready to simplify your morning routine.
Gather squandered minutes and create mini-workouts
Make the best use of all your time. Saved time throughout the day adds extra time for important, fun or interesting tasks you need and want to accomplish. So, instead of standing waiting on the kettle to boil, start squatting! Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Also, make use of 15-minute windows by doing mini-workouts.
It’s important? Write it down
The act of writing down your tasks declutters your mind. It helps you better understand the scope of each task and what you need to prioritize. Plus, crossing out finished tasks is so satisfying because it gives your brain a mini-boost of dopamine which helps further increase your motivation.
A series of manageable tasks is easier than a big one
Break all big tasks into bite-sized tasks to make them less overwhelming or intimidating. Your brain will find it easier to think about tackling smaller tasks compared to the thought of facing a huge endeavor. The more realistic a task looks, the higher the likelihood for you to get it done.
Dreading something? Do it first!
Try to tackle the challenging or worst jobs first. As studies show, it’s often the first hour at work when people are most productive. So train your brain and body to complete them in the first hour. Then follow on with the next in terms of difficulty.
Think outside the… gym!
There are many ways to exercise, so feel free to create more opportunities for you to move more. Discover more exciting ways to get some fitness in your routine — perhaps you’d like to go dancing or do ice skating or maybe join a class. With these types of activities, you’ll think you’re socializing instead of exercising.
Progress, not perfection
All these tips considered, remember to be kind to yourself. When you slip up from time to time (as we’re all allowed to), don’t be harsh on yourself. Being compassionate to yourself helps you stay motivated and guilt-free while improving your brain health.
Dr. Upasana Gala is the founder and CEO of Evolve Brain Training, a Neurofeedback-centered institute that focuses on using non-invasive brain training techniques to maximize the brain's true potential.