3 Simple Brain Training Tips From Neuroscience
It is easy to lose our focus and become distracted from achieving our goals. Here are the reasons why from the world of neuroscience and three simple brain training strategies to help you maintain focus.
In this recent Fast Company article, Sandra Bond Chapman founder and chief director of the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas in Dallas describes the results of their SMART brain training programme. SMART stands for Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training and is a brain training programme based on more than 25 years of scientific study by cognitive neuroscientists and research clinicians. In addition to improving focus it has been shown to improve strategic thinking, elevate mental energy and enhance attention. Chapman recommends the following 3 tips to maintain focus:
1. Adopt a single focus
When we’re constantly shifting our attention from one thing to another, we inhibit our ability to learn and to get things done, Chapman says. “While it’s fine to watch television while cooking dinner, for example, trying to answer email messages while focusing on a big writing project is likely going to detract from performance on each. The increase in productivity and learning when we stop trying to multi-task is remarkable”.
2. Take brain breaks
I subscribe to this approach, taking a 5-10 minutes break for every hour of concentrated brainpower really helps to focus for longer. Chapman explains, “The more information we download or take in, the more shallower our thinking is, and the more fragmented our brain systems are.” She explains, “Five 5-minute breaks each day where you get away from technology and work, and give your brain a few moments of rest can yield remarkable results” and jokes about the power of bathroom breaks, “people go to the bathroom and come back and they had a breakthrough idea, and I say, ‘What was going on in the bathroom?’ It really is just because they stopped trying push through. The brain break is one of the ways to keep your brain’s mental energy on high charge,” she says.
3. Read less and deeper
Chapman recommends you stop trying to know everything about everything and be more selective in the information you’re taking in. Instead of skimming dozens of stories each morning, choose a handful on which you can truly focus and you’ll retain more. “The more information we download or take in, the more shallow our thinking is, and the more fragmented our brain systems are,” she says. “it’s counterintuitive because we think that if I could just take in 20 things and quickly absorb them, I would be smarter, and the science has shown that the smartest leaders are those who know from the get go to literally block out some information.”
So, while our focus on getting more done through multitasking, skimming, and moving on to the next thing as quickly as possible seems effective, Chapman says the key to truly developing the sharp focus necessary to get things done requires working at a deeper level. “We keep loading ourselves down so we’re mentally exhausted all the time. Our battery is too worn down to really engage in deeper-level thinking and be more efficient,” Chapman says. Cognitive improvement is possible when we slow down, stop letting technology interrupt us repeatedly, and practice focusing on the task or information with which we’re engaged, she says.
Read the Fast Company article in full: Surprisingly Simple Ways You Can Trick Your Brain Into Focusing
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