1. Take Deep Breaths. By breathing deeply through the nose you can improve the functioning of your brain immediately. Deep breaths put more oxygen in the blood and, therefore, in the brain. Low oxygen levels in the blood have been shown to decrease brain function. You can try the breathing exercises suggested by Andrew Weil, who has devoted the past thirty years to developing, practicing, and teaching others about the principles of integrative medicine, by going here.
2. Keep a Journal. Catharine M. Cox, author of “Early Mental Traits of Three Hundred Geniuses”, studied the habits of 300 geniuses — such as Isaac Newton, Einstein, and Thomas Jefferson – and discovered that all of them were “compulsive” journal or diary keepers. Also, keep in mind that Thomas Edison wrote 3 million pages of notes, letters and personal thoughts in hundreds of personal journals throughout his life.
3. Learn As Much As You Can. As we learn new things, we create new neural pathways. A “smart” person is someone who has more interconnected neural pathways than others. In addition, the human brain will create new neural pathways in response to external stimuli — such as through learning new things; the more diverse, the better.
4. Learn to Speed Read. PhotoReading is an easy-to-learn technique that will help you go through large amounts of written information faster and with a higher retention rate than using the traditional reading methodtaught in school.
Although most speed reading techniques simply teach you how to move your eyes faster across the page, PhotoReading is a whole-mind reading system that teaches you to use both the conscious and the subconscious mind when reading. Basically, it involves several quick perusals of the material following a different technique each time. The first perusal involves using your subconscious mind to rapidly absorb material visually. Subsequent perusals involve the conscious mind and use other methods to help memoryretention and understanding of the material.
5. Take Frequent Short Breaks. Study for twenty minutes and then take a short break. This is effective because things at the start and end of a study session last in your memory for a longer period of time. You can download the Motivator Software for free so that a message pops up every twenty minutes on your computer reminding you to take a break.
6. Use Acronyms to Remember Information. An acronym is simply an abbreviation formed using the initial letters of a word. These types of memory aids can help you to learn large quantities of information in a short period of time. For example, “Every Good Boy Does Fine” is a common acronym used to help musicians and students to remember the notes on a treble clef stave.
7. Eat breakfast. Eating breakfast has been proven to improve concentration, problem solving ability, mental performance, memory, and mood. Breakfast is the first chance the body has to refuel its glucose levels after eight to 12 hours without a meal. Glucose is the brain’s main energy source.
8. Use Your Body to Help You Learn. Movement is a key part of the process of development and learning. Brain Gym is a program of simple exercises, developed over a 25 year period by a remedial educational specialist, Dr. Paul Dennison. Brain Gym exercises can help with things such as:
– Abstract Thinking
– Mental Fatigue
– Completing tasks
– Physical balance and coordination
9. Meditate. Neuropsychologists now say that meditation can alter brain structure. MRI scans of long-term meditators have shown greater activity in brain circuits involved in paying attention. When disturbing noises were played to a group of meditators undergoing an MRI scan, they had relatively little effect on the brain areas involved in emotion and decision-making as compared to non-meditators or less experienced meditators. For more information on this, go here.
10. Stay Away From Sugar. Any simple carbohydrates–such as pasta, sugars, white bread and potato chips–can make you tired and lethargic. Sometimes called the “sugar blues”, this sluggish feeling makes it hard to think clearly. It results from the insulin rushing into the bloodstream to counteract the sugar rush.
11. Cultivate Your Emotional Intelligence. For many years a lot of emphasis was placed on certain aspects of intelligence, such as logical reasoning, math skills, spatial skills, understanding analogies, verbal skills, and so on. However, in recent years, and particularly with the publication of Daniel Goleman’s book “Emotional Intelligence”, it has become clear that a lot of people waste their potential by thinking, behaving and communicating in ways that hinder their chances to succeed. That is, emotional intelligence is being recognized as a meta-ability which will allow you to take full advantage of your other skills and talents. Take a free emotional intelligence test here.
12. Use Downtime. Use down time, time spent commuting or waiting in line, productively. Complete crossword puzzles or sudokus while waiting in line and listen to audio programs while commuting.
13. Go for A Jog. The book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain explains that you can lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat. Scientific evidence demonstrates that aerobic exercisephysically remodels our brains for peak performance.
14. Engage All of Your Senses. Researchers have found that the human brain learns best through multi-sensory association. Children and adults learn best when they’re engaged in a learning activity that uses sight, sound, emotions, tactile feedback, spatial orientation, and even smell and taste.
Mike Adams explains in “The Top Ten Technologies: #10 Superlearning Systems” that a child who is given the definition of the word “weightless” in a verbal format gets that information in one channel: the audio channel. If you show the child a movie of an astronaut floating in space while you’re saying the word “weightless,” you now have a two-dimensional learning experience: the child both sees and hears the word. In addition, if you have the child bounce up and down on a trampoline and shout “weightlessness” when the child is up in the air, an understanding of the word becomes even more firmly implanted in his brain.
15. Induce Alpha Brain Waves. Research has found that the ideal state for learning is when the brain is in a relaxed, but focused and aware state. At this point the brainwaves run at about 8 to 12 cycles per second, which is called the alpha state. Three ways to reach the alpha level of mind are the following:
The Silva Life System
Baroque music-such as Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” and Pachbel’s “Canon”-has been shown to synchronize brain waves at the alpha frequency.
There are a number of light and sound machines available which will help you reach the alpha state while remaining fully conscious.
16. Load Up on Antioxidants. Antioxidants protect all your cells, including brain cells. Some of the foodshighest in antioxidants include: prunes, raisins, blueberries, blackberries, garlic, kale, cranberries, strawberries, spinach, and raspberries.
17. Use Your Intuition. Learn to use your intuition as an information gathering process. By relying on your intuition you expand your awareness and you direct your subconscious to pick up on cues from the environment.
18 – 20. Use a Memory Peg System. A peg system is a technique for memorizing lists. It works by pre-memorizing a list of words that are easy to associate with the numbers they represent (1 to 10, 1-100, and so on). Those are your memory pegs. When you need to quickly memorize a list of arbitrary objects, each object is associated with the appropriate peg. Once you’ve memorized the pegs you can use these same pegs over and over again every time that you need to memorize something.
When you have to memorize a list you visualize each item on the list in relation to the memory peg. You can choose words that rhyme with the numbers, such as the following example from wikipedia:
For example, suppose you’re memorizing a list of 10 items you want to get at the pharmacy: cotton balls, toothpaste, gum, paper, glue, index cards, multivitamins, hand cream, shampoo, and nail polish. Do the following:
1. Visualize cotton balls being fired from a gun.
2. Visualize a gorilla at the zoo brushing his teeth.
3. Visualize a tree with packs of gum growing on its branches.
4. Visualize someone breaking through a paper door.
5. Visualize a jar of glue surrounded by bees as if it were a beehive.
6. Visualize a house made up of “bricks” of index cards.
7. Visualize angels taking multivitamins.
8. Visualize a plate full of hand cream.
9. Visualize a wine glass filled with shampoo.
10. Visualize a hen with bright red nails.