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Higher cognitive performance

Higher cognitive performance

Our brain can change throughout our lifetime, in relation to factors like behavior, process, and environment. It means we can still improve ourselves with strategic and incremental changes to our daily routines.

For example, you can increase your ability to focus for more extended periods of time by training your attention.

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To improve your mental ability, you have to understand its natural peaks and drops throughout the day. It can be different for every person, so pay attention to what time of the day your mind is functioning at its best.

If you find it difficult to see what time of day your mind is functioning best, keep a productivity log. At two-hour intervals, write down your physical and mental status. You'll find a pattern of peak performance or sluggishness.

Most people have little pockets of time throughout the day, between meetings and calls and emails, with 15 minutes here, and 30 minutes there. To perform at your best depends on simple time management hacks.

  • Set aside one or two times a day to check and respond to all your messages and emails, then close your inbox.
  • Try and structure your day in one-to two-hour chunks of focused work.
  • Introduce a clear protocol for colleagues to contact one another in case of an actual emergency.

Our brains are continually changing and learning, making it possible to change and manipulate depending on what we're exposed to.

Think strategically about what environment you work best in and protect yourself from any other distractions that could decrease your performance. Intentionally create an environment to do specific types of activities. That way, your mind has a preset expectation associated with each situation.

Self-care is vital for proper mental function. 

  • Get plenty of rehydration, a healthy diet, and regular exercise to keep blood flowing to your brain.
  • Eat healthy snacks throughout the day to keep your energy levels consistent.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Work hard and play hard. Work hard at work, but then have intentional off-periods where you're relaxing and rejuvenating.

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The abrupt shift from an office to a home environment could leave you struggling to get used to the sudden change.

Try to sustain a semblance of normalcy. Try virtual pizza parties or remote happy hours. Celebrate birthdays, give public praise for goals reached, and projects completed. Make time for casual conversations.

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Find places that inspire you

You might not be in a position to choose your workspace, but there are quick fixes: look for a spot with natural light from a window or skylight, take a walk outside when you feel stuck, or simply explore a new location. 

A new environment can quite literally lead to new ideas.

Time blocking and focus

By scheduling every minute of your day you not only guard against distraction but also multiply your focus.

Also, focusing on one task at a time can make you up to 80% more productive than splitting your attention across multiple tasks.