Fact: your brain is a super computer. As such, proper maintanance is required to ensure success and productivity. Like a computer needs electricity to function, your brain is energy-dependent. It relies on chemicals, primarily oxygen and sugar, to transmit information.
To reach complete potential and greater productivity, be mindful of the following factors:
Each stems from Brain Rules by John Medina.
Exercise boosts brain power.
You’ve probably heard that exercise is good for your heart. What you may not have known, is that exercise is good for your brain, too. Although the human brain comprises 2% of total body mass, on average it accounts for 20% of the body’s oxygen consumption. Exercise is one way of providing food for the brain.
Miss recess as a child? Take a ten minute exercise break to invigorate your workflow. Get things done at home as a freelancer? Spend a few minutes completing a household chore. You’ll return to your desk more energized and have one less item on your personal to-do list.
Sleep well, think well.
“The bottom line is that sleep loss means mind loss. Sleep loss cripples thinking in just about every way you can measure thinking. Sleep loss hurts attention, executive function, immediate memory, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning ability, general math knowledge.
Eventually, sleep loss affects manual dexterity, including fine motor control and even gross motor movements…”
Aside from making non-morning people cranky, not getting enough sleep can hurt the quality of their work and the ability to do their job well. If nap time is no longer an option, going to bed that extra fifteen minutes early is a sacrifice worth making.
Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.
Many of us are already familiar with the concept of stress comprimising the immune system. High levels of stress lead to more doctors visits and missed work. In the brain, stress severely impacts the hippocampus. Essentially, the hippocampus is located in the center of the brain, and its key function with regards to productivity relates to memory – particularly in the storage and processsing of new information. In short, stress hinders performance by blocking ideas from being committed to memory.
As an individual, techniques like meditation and therapeutic massage are known to decrease stress. In addition, many find aromatherapy to be beneficial for combatting stress.
For an organization, on the other hand, Medina recommends that managers equip workplaces with the following anti-stressors:
- Greater freedom with employee responsibilities
- A certain level of variety in assigned tasks
Check out these awesome Chapter Summaries (PDF) to learn about all eight principles covered in Medina’s book. The more you know about how the brain works and what its needs are, the better equipped you’ll be to do amazing things with it.
Photo credit: Zachary Veach