Hacking your brain: how to be more productive

How can you improve your productivity? Well, get enough sleep. It seems obvious and webworkerdaily explains why.

Getting adequate sleep is foundational to being successful in today’s world. Consider the following important factors regarding sleep:
  • Staying healthy - to remain in good health and avoid illness, your immune system requires you to get enough sleep each night. In fact, trying to “catch up” on sleep by sleeping extra can actually cause additional harm to your body.
  • Being a effective employee - in order to remain sharp, we must be alert and capable of learning and applying new knowledge. Plus, being able to deal with stressful situations requires brain capacity and emotional intelligence, which is enhanced by sleep.
  • Participating in social situations - Who wants to carry on a conversation with someone who is constantly sleeping and who acts un-interested in your topic? Also, in the podcast, Dr. Breus said that most sexual issues he comes across with couples are related to at least one of the partners not getting adequate sleep.
Contrary to the popular belief that we all need to get 8 hours of sleep each night, Dr. Breus tells us that 6.5 to 7 hours of sleep is best for most people, depending on your individual needs. He heavily discourages the use of a snooze button as it promotes a very ‘negative’ type of sleep. Also, in terms of naps, the good doctor says that a 20 minute power nap is the most effective. His way of power napping includes slugging a lukewarm cup of coffee, then napping for 20 minutes, then “you’ll be good to go for another 3 or 4 hours.”
I must admit that I'm not good in following this rule but I should. On the twitter page of Presentationzen I caught the following book suggestion: Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. Also this book seems to stress the importance of sleep but also has 11 other principles that boosts your productivity.

Go ahead and multiply the number 8,388,628 x 2 in your head. Can you do it in a few seconds? There is a young man who can double that number 24 times in the space of a few seconds. He gets it right every time. There is a boy who can tell you the exact time of day at any moment, even in his sleep. There is a girl who can correctly determine the exact dimensions of an object 20 feet away. There is a child who at age 6 drew such lifelike and powerful pictures, she got her own show at a gallery on Madison Avenue. Yet none of these children could be taught to tie their shoes. Indeed, none of them have an IQ greater than 50.

The brain is an amazing thing. Your brain may not be nearly so odd, but it is no less extraordinary. Easily the most sophisticated information-transfer system on Earth, your brain is fully capable of taking little black squiggles from a piece of bleached wood and deriving meaning from them. To accomplish this miracle, your brain sends jolts of electricity crackling through hundreds of miles of wires composed of brain cells so small that thousands of them could fit into the period at the end of this sentence. You accomplish all of this in less time than it takes you to blink. Indeed, you have just done it. What's equally incredible, given our intimate association with it, is this: Most of us have no idea how our brain works.

12 brain rules
My goal is to introduce you to 12 things we know about how the brain works. I call these Brain Rules. For each rule, I present the science and then offer ideas for investigating how the rule might apply to our daily lives, especially at work and school. The brain is complex, and I am taking only slivers of information from each subject—non-comprehensive but accessible.

You will discover how:

- Every brain is wired differently
- Exercise improves cognition
- We are designed to never stop learning and exploring
- Memories are volatile
- Sleep is powerfully linked with the ability to learn
- Vision trumps all of the other senses
- Stress changes the way we learn

EXERCISE | Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power.
SURVIVAL | Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too.
WIRING | Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently.
ATTENTION | Rule #4: We don't pay attention to boring things.
SHORT-TERM MEMORY | Rule #5: Repeat to remember.
LONG-TERM MEMORY | Rule #6: Remember to repeat.
SLEEP | Rule #7: Sleep well, think well.
STRESS | Rule #8: Stressed brains don't learn the same way.
SENSORY INTEGRATION | Rule #9: Stimulate more of the senses.
VISION | Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses.
GENDER | Rule #11: Male and female brains are different.
EXPLORATION | Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers.

A sampling of the ideas you'll encounter:

-For starters, we are not used to sitting at a desk for eight hours a day. From an evolutionary perspective, our brains developed while working out, walking as many as 12 miles a day. The brain still craves the experience, especially in sedentary populations like our own. That's why exercise boosts brain power (Brain Rule #1) in such populations. Exercisers outperform couch potatoes in long-term memory, reasoning, attention, problem-solving tasks, and more. I am convinced that integrating exercise into our eight hours at work or school would only be normal.

- As you no doubt have noticed if you've ever sat through a typical PowerPoint presentation, people don't pay attention to boring things (Brain Rule #4). You've got seconds to grab someone's attention, and only 10 minutes to keep it. At 9 minutes and 59 seconds, something must be done quickly—something emotional and relevant. Also, the brain needs a break. That's why I use stories in this book to make many of my points.

- Ever feel tired around 3 o'clock in the afternoon? That's because your brain really wants to take a nap. You might be more productive if you did: In one study, a 26-minute nap improved NASA pilots' performance by 34 percent. Even so, the brain isn't resting while it sleeps. It is surprisingly active. And whether you get enough rest affects your mental agility the next day. Sleep well, think well (Brain Rule #7).

- We'll meet a man who can read two pages at the same time, one with each eye, and remember everything in the pages forever. Most of us do more forgetting than remembering, of course, and that's why we must repeat to remember (Brain Rule #5). When you understand the brain's rules for memory, you'll see why I want to destroy the notion of homework.
Last week John spoke at Google about the effects of exercise and stress on our brains. You can watch the talk on YouTube or below.

Some more stuff:

- Seattle Times feature article - "12 rules to boost your brain power"
- Watch John's interview on Northwest Afternoon (KOMO-ABC)
- iTunes - download the exercise chapter from the audio book
- YouTube - watch dozens of videos from the Brain Rules DVD
- Web tutorials for all 12 brain rules.

Also the 10 minute attention span was mentioned above.
Keep people entertained in your presentation. Use a story, use an emotion. A lot of those rules can help you improve your presentations. "vision trumps all other senses"
So, another important factor is exercise !!
So you got no excuses anymore to get out of that chair!! I don't have the book yet but it's on my wishlist now!

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