- Get your sleep
Researchers at UC Berkely report that “Two-thirds of adults throughout all developed nations fail to obtain the recommended eight hours of nightly sleep.” More research has shown that missing an hour of sleep turns a sixth grader’s brain into that of a fourth grader. There’s actually a clear correlation between sleep and grades: “Teens who received A’s averaged about fifteen more minutes sleep than the B students, who in turn averaged fifteen more minutes than the C’s, and so on.”
In short, get your proper sleep.
- Get your exercise
Your brain is part of your body and what’s good for the body is good for the brain.
“Scientifically, on the current evidence, exercise is the best way to enhance your cognitive function.” When you exercise it boosts BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) which helps you to learn better and faster.
- Stay calm
Even if you have a high IQ, if you’re caught in a Pigpen cloud of emotion, you’re going to make bad decisions. Staying calm is the séance that precedes the exorcism. Scientists refer to it as “arousal control.” How do we chill? When you start to get stressed, relax yourself with deep breaths. Whenever you know you have something challenging coming up, take the time to prepare. A feeling of control reduces stress and keeps our thinking clear. Sounds simple but it’s powerful.
The internet is half enlightenment engine, half dehydrated concentrate of stupidity. Spend too much time on social media (the epicenter of modern tantrum culture) and you will end up theatrically troubled. It feels like your brain is having trash shoveled into it. What else has such a capacity to make us both simultaneously exhausted and overstimulated?
Shifting between tasks is not seamless for your brain. Your focus and attention take a hit every time you switch. Constantly bouncing around between tasks produces the equivalent of a 10-point IQ drop.
So when you want to be at your best, silence your phone and distance yourself from all those attention burglars. “Batch” all email checking, texting, and social media into pre-designated times. Then turn off notifications. This allows your brain to hum at full capacity and increases the secretion of elbow grease to get good work done.
- Ask for HELP
Your education isn’t complete until you’ve learned to take a hint. When you’re unsure, get help.
Find a mentor. But does needing someone to guide you mean you’re not a genius? Quite likely the opposite…
Ask for advice. Become the chimeric blend of the smartest people around you.
The research shows there are two kinds of intelligence: fluid and crystallized. Fluid intelligence is raw processing power. Figuring things out with no knowledge. Crystallized intelligence is closer to expertise, based more on prior learning and information.
Fluid intelligence declines rapidly as we get older. In fact, it begins dropping at around age 25. Yeesh. But crystallized intelligence doesn’t even peak until age 60. It’s well known that top mathematicians and physicists do their best work in the first half of life. Meanwhile, great authors usually create their masterworks in the second half.
Smart people don’t start many bar fights. But stupid people don’t build many hydrogen bombs.”