How to Keep Your Mind Fresh

Breaking news—you don’t have to be older to have a “senior moment.” Working long hours, financial stress, and role overload can trigger fuzzy thinking. And if you own your own business, you’re likely familiar with all three. The good news is you can do something about it. Here are some quick and easy tips to keep your mind fresh and ready to confront the challenge of running a small business.

Master Your Mantra

If the thought of sitting cross-legged on the floor chanting “ohm” makes you want to run for the hills, hold on. There might be something to it. In a long-term study, a Harvard neuroscientist found that meditation can actually increase volume in five different areas of the brain. And it only took eight weeks. People increased their memory and learning abilities and reduced mind wandering and stress. 

Not sure you have the time to meditate and run a business? If you can set aside just five minutes a day (about the time it takes to brush your teeth), you can begin to realize its benefits. Success Magazine suggests five ways to find time during your work day. One you can do taking a sip of water at the water cooler. It’s all about pausing, even for a couple of seconds, to be present in the moment.

Don’t Sit It Out

Sitting for long periods of time, especially in front of a screen, can increase your risk for health conditions that can impair the way you think. While you may not be able to reduce your computer time, you can cut down on how much you do in one sitting.

Take a break from sitting every 30 minutes. Look for opportunities to stand, like when talking on the phone. Some people have desktops that they can adjust so they can work while standing up. Others have “walking meetings” where participants walk and talk rather than sitting in a conference room.

Exercise Your Brain

We all recognize the value of physical exercise to keep a clear head. But what about exercising your brain? Here are three mental workouts you can do on the fly:

  • Say it again, Sam – Just like weight lifters use reps to help train their muscles, repetition can help train your brain. If you want to remember something, repeat it out loud several times. If you’ve just been introduced to someone, use their name in a sentence—“It’s nice to finally meet you, Jim.” Even better, introduce the person to someone else. These repeated exposures help to condition your brain to recall the information when you need it. 
  • Make sense of it – Put more of your brain to work by using all of your senses, especially when learning something new. Try pairing two senses together. For example, when taking an order on the phone, repeat the customer request and write it down. The combination of sight, hearing and tactile senses means you’ve sent the message to your brain in three different ways.
  • Try switch-hitting – Use your non-dominant hand when performing a routine task. For example, use your other hand to jot something on your “to-do” list. This simple act causes your brain to find new pathways to get something done. 

Outsource Using Technology

It can feel like you only have so much brainpower to use up in a day. So use it judiciously. Outsource those lower-level tasks to technology. Say you need to pick up printer fluid on the way home. Set a reminder on your smartphone. That way your phone can remember it for you and you can use your energy on more important things.

There are a number of apps that help you offload the smaller things. For example, todolist lets you track tasks in one place and organize/prioritize them so you know exactly what to work on next. And it’s free. 

Don’t let brain burbs get in the way of running your business. Start with one of these simple ideas to keep your mind fresh for the opportunities and challenges that come your way.

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