This article is based on the latest reading I did regarding the human brain.
The Brain can truly be considered as the most complicated organ in the universe. There is nothing as complex as the human brain. It is estimated that we have 86 billion nerve cells. Each nerve cell is connected to other nerve cells, not in a one to one connection, but up to 10,000 individual connections between cells. Which means you have more connection in your skull than there are starts in the Universe. Information in your brain travels at about 268 miles an hour (Approximately 432 km/h). And even though your brain is only 2% of your body’s weight, it uses 20% to 30% of the calories that you consume.
So, of the breakfast you had this morning, or the lunch you had this afternoon, almost a third of it goes to feed 2% of your body’s weight.
Your brain is the most expensive real estate in your body.
Left brain – Traditionally called the masculine brain, it is in charge of your logical behavior. It is the mathematical, sequential, achievement oriented and expressive brain. This left brain is further the facilitator of your language skills and analytical thinking.
Right Brain – Traditionally called the feeling brain, this is the part of the brain that nurtures aesthetics and creativity. It is the loving, caring, artistic, and music-oriented brain.
Our education systems have been developed to improve the left brain because the assumption is that success in the material world can be achieved through this section of our brain. Consequently, the creative and emotional side is pushed to a corner.
Given the popularity of the idea of “right-brained” and “left-brained” thinkers, it might surprise you to learn that this idea is just one of the many myths about the brain.
Can we, as adults, grow new nerve cells? This phenomenon is called NEUROGENESIS. The adult brain can actually generate new nerve cells.
Where does this process take place?
Concerning the human brain, the estimation is that we produce 700 new neurons per day in the hippocampus. You might think this is not much, compared to the billions of neurons we have. But by the time we turn 50, we will have exchanged all the neurons we were born with in that structure with adult-born neurons.
So why are these new neurons important and what are their functions?
What do psychology and neuroscience have to say to improve your focus and attention?
Reference : Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
So, the truth is that there is no need to limit ourselves to the “right-brained” and “left-brained” concept. If we practice and focus, then we can improve both brains and improve our productivity and live a good life.
Many people tend to have a left or right brain dominance which is mostly a factor in selecting their life’s work. With that, an artist would never consider engineering for a career and vice versa.
The brain works best, however, when both sides are activated and involved in learning and activities. When both sides are engaged, neural connections are made and that allows them to work better.
Here are a few tips…
Tip number one is to try to simplify what you attend to.
There is too much information in the environment. You need to control how much information you have to pay attention to.
Here are three ways to simplify your life – so that you can focus on what really matters.
- Prioritize: Every day make a list of items you want to attend to and attend to only the most highly prioritized matters. You can start with Excel but if you are working with a team and need to manage the team then it is better to use a software. A Lot of free software are available in the market.
- Dive in.
Reserach shows that 95 percent of people report having procrastination problems. We postpone tasks that seem tedious, or we want to do such a perfect job that we keep waiting for the ideal situation to get started. As a result, we feel guilty and weighed down by all the things we “should” do.
- Cut back your screen time – Un plug
In addition, you could switch on the screen time in your mobile or use a tracking app to see how effectively we use our phones and apps.
These actual tracking will give us a good sense of how our days are spent and how we use our mobiles. These figures will help on improving ourselves and reduce the time we spend on unimportant tasks.
Read a book instead
Put down the phone
- Never use the phone for at least 30 mins before you go to bed.
- This will help the quality of sleep as some suggest that the blue light from phones/laptops hinder our sleep.
Designate time to shut off
Tip number two is to relax, it’s so important.
Some people act as if the more pumped up they are, and the harder they try, their performance is always going to go up.
YERKES DODSON CURVE
The curve is actually an upside-down U-shaped function. So for optimal performance, you need some arousal, you need to put some effort in any task, and then you hit your peak performance. But if you put too much effort in, or if you are over-aroused, then your performance is going to drop over on the far right. This is a very important principle in attention research.
Tip number three is unitasking, and this is probably the most important tip I want to share with you because most of us think that in order to be productive, we need to multitask.
The truth is that your brain works better when its unitasking; when it is only doing one thing at a time.
According to Psychology, our brain cannot take on two tasks simultaneously; instead our brain switches quickly from one task to another. There is a start/stop process each time we switch from one task to the next.
Research indicates that your productivity will go up if you follow this tip. It may even make you smarter.
Tip number four is improving the art of listening.
We mistake listening as easy because it looks passive and instinctive, but in reality, it’s hard work. Really listening (and not just appearing to listen) requires intense concentration and a good deal of mental energy.
Listening can be difficult for a few reasons. Perhaps the hardest is that we think three to four times faster than people speak. That means we could listen at a rate of up to 450 words per minute, but the average person speaks only 125-175 words per minute, making it easy to become impatient or let your mind wander.
Great listeners share a few important qualities:
1) They ask great questions
2) They pay attention to more than what’s being said
“Words are important, but words don’t always match perfectly to meaning or action,” writes Meta S. Brown, author of Data Mining for Dummies.
3) They listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to respond
As Stephen Covey wrote “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Good listeners instead focus on understanding what’s being said, rather than thinking of what they want to say next.
Tip number five
Deconstructing big goals into manageable parts
We have to break this big ambitious goal down into more manageable decisions; the types of decisions that need to be made correctly along the way in order to improve the odds of achieving the type of outcome you desire.
I will share a personal experience of mine.
In 2018, I got really ambitious, ambitious for a guy who still to this day, cannot settle down and focus on anything for more than ten minutes at a time. That was to read 50 books. But again, its not about reading 50 books. Its not even about reading one book. Its not about reading a chapter, a paragraph, a sentence. It’s about that decision when you’re sitting at your desk at the end of the day, or when you’re lying on the couch, or flicking through your Facebook feed, and you put down the phone. You pick up a book and you read one word.
If you read one word, you’ll read two words, three words, you’ll read a sentence, a paragraph, a page, a chapter, a book, you’ll read ten books, 30 books, 50 books
What I do is take really big ambitious projects that people seem to marvel at, break them down to their simplest form and then just make marginal improvements along the way to improve my odds of achieving them.
So ultimately what you need to do is to pull some of those ambitious dreams that you have for yourself off the bookshelf and start pursuing them by making that marginal adjustment to your routine.