Be more productive to experience life to its fullest. It’s the chant of the decade. For many, however, it’s also an impossible dream. There are limits to what you can achieve. And there are limits to how well you can do it. It used to be that you could stay ahead. Now you need to do your best to keep up.
While it’s safe to say that you’ve reached your limits, guess again. There are plenty more opportunities for you to challenge yourself. And countless ways to be more productive. Ultimately, it’s all about making the right call. What matters is what works and why, what you can use.
How to rewire your brain
Your brain, obviously, is not made of wires. In fact, wiring and rewiring your brain are forced metaphors. But it would make sense, right? All theories about how the brain works borrow from the top tech achievement of their era.
Rene Descartes, for example, argued that the pineal gland is how the mind controls the body. The actual process, he believed, was mechanical. Movements of the pineal gland, brought forth by the soul, would carry out through nerves and then muscles.
A few decades ago, it was all about wiring and rewiring. Computer metaphors were frequent. For example, working memory would be referred to as RAM, whereas long-term memory would be hard drive disks. In similar fashion, wiring and rewiring the brain is yet another clumsy and forced metaphor.
However, you intuitively understand what wiring and rewiring means. Hence, it makes it easier for you to understand what happens. On the other hand, the issue remains that the human brain is extremely complicated. And all those processes, particularly, adaptability and flexibility, make rewiring quite unfit as a metaphor. Hence, it can convey meaning what contradicts actual science.
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Science says our brain is constantly changing. We used to think that the brain stops changing past the point of maturity. That all the wiring is done and it’s permanent. In fact, our brains keep producing brain cells. Moreover, learning new things for the duration of our lives keeps our brains healthy, active, and happy. That’s why lifelong learning is so important. Or the neuroplasticity benefits of learning an instrument.
Hence, take “rewiring” with a grain of salt. Instead, ask yourself this:”How can I change my brain in such a way that I can be more productive?” Here are the solutions we know work.
1. Manage stress to be more productive
Stress kills productivity. Whomever says that they work better on stress lies. The work you do right before the deadline is sloppy, unfinished, and subpar. You only think you’re doing well because of stress hormones and neurotransmitters.
While there are some cognitive enhancing effects of stress, they won’t help. Instead, what they do is maintain your anxiety. Stress, after all, is a self-defense mechanism. It preps your body for dangerous situations. Much like fight-or-flight. This has strenuous effects on your attention. And, instead of boosting your cognitive skills, it mostly improves your motor skills.
We covered work pressure and how to manage it in a whole series. The point that should stay with you is the following. Stress opportunities are abundant. Rather than avoiding them, embrace them. Only that do so on a way that does not stress you.
2. Use meditation
Meditation has been proven to change your brain structure. In fact, brain scans of experienced meditators show structural and functional changes. Let’s cover them a bit.
Firstly, meditation increases grey matter density in the brain stem. This means that you get more neurons tucked together in the same space. And that’s good. Intel has been doing the same with transistors on a CPU dice. With CPUs, this accounts for greater performance. Or lower energy consumption. To you, this means better personal efficiency and higher output. In effect, you get to be more productive.
Secondly, meditation directly affects cerebral flood flow. What this means is that meditation can improve oxygenation and nourishment in several areas of the brain. In effect, it becomes easier to sustain attention and redirect focus. A side-effect of this has to do with managing your feelings. And dealing with emotions, especially at work, is very useful.
Lastly, there are corollary benefits which help you be more productive. Meditators benefit from the effects of meditation for a lot longer than the meditation session lasts. It’s a great way to keep the brain toned in front of stress. Furthermore, you can use meditation to deal with several brain illnesses. The benefits stack, the more you practice, the better you get. Even as little as two weeks of practice can affect your overall performance.
In a broader sense, meditation is a general-purpose tool for rewiring your brain. This, we explained before. You won’t be able to change the wires around. But you will add countless benefits that will help you be more productive. Lastly, meditation is free, practical, and pleasant.
3. Train your brain through lifelong learning
You might think you won’t have enough time to learn something new. Truth is, you can always find a few hours a week for something fun. Especially if it helps you be more productive. And it rewires your brain for improved cognition.
Anything from juggling to a new language will do. Or learning a new instrument, for that matter. According to Music Oomph, there are many benefits of playing a musical instrument. Reading a whole book over the weekend could also do the trick. And if you think you don’t have the time for all this, try an expert trainer.
Nowadays, you can find workshops for everything. Or you can have your entire team attend a training. Anything that takes you out of the comfort zone. Or perhaps puts you on the spot. From learning how to act on stage to public speaking.
Maybe you could hire a graduate student to teach you something they’re doing at school. It’s cheap and effective and can help you be more productive.
Most of all, you can tackle a whole range of topics. Some might have a direct impact in your work life. Others may simply be your own curiosities. For example, you could learn how to code for task automation. It might even help you be more productive. Similarly, you could start learning Japanese. Or a lot about transactional analysis as therapy. The sky’s the limit. From live training to company training to online courses, you can do anything.
And that’s precisely the point. Whatever you choose will rewire your brain. And this will in effect improve your cognition. Finally, you will be more productive.