The Memory Guru of India-1000 Ways to improve memory

Make memory a habbit



Your mind is a powerful thing, but it’s often limited by things like fear, habit, and poor health. However, there are a number of ways to improve the way you use your mind. Read on to discover 1000 mindhacks that will help you make the most out of the most powerful tool you have at your disposal.MEMORY IS USE IT OR LOSE IT “


1000 Ways to Improve Memory


Your mind is a powerful thing, but it’s often limited by things like fear, habit, and poor health. However, there are a number of ways to improve the way you use your mind. Read on to discover 100 mindhacks that will help you make the most out of the most powerful tool you have at your disposal.


Follow these general mind hacks to give your brain some power.

  1. Use the Internet: Studies have found that using the Internet is good for your brain, as it keeps your mind fit and sharp.
  2. Practice streamwriting: Find answers and solve problems by writing out your conscious until your superconscious comes out.
  3. Power idea generation: Practice quiet solitude in which you list out problems and ideas, whether useful or not, to make your brain better at generating ideas.
  4. Take on a creative hobby: Make your brain work harder with a creative hobby that requires thinking.
  5. Read quality magazines, books, and blogs: Make sure that the sources that influence your thinking are top notch, so you’ll have a good reference to call on.
  6. Stay active: Be sure to stay connected with your friends, family, and network so that you can be mentally stimulated through relationships.
  7. Engage in meaningful activities: Join a spiritual group or participate in community service to improve your psyche.
  8. Use Oblique Strategies: Use these cards to help you make decisions in hard situations.
  9. Use weighted pros and cons: Assign weights and importance to different pros and cons of a situation to make your decision.

  10. Set goals: Creating goals helps you actively think of ways to be better.
  11. Write things down: Your goal can stare back at you once you’ve written it down.
  12. Take a nap: By napping, you’ll be more likely to remember things that you’ve memorized earlier.
  13. Drink something warm: The warm sensation from a hot drink can make you feel more emotionally warm and content.
  14. Visit museums and performances: Engage your mind’s interest and expand your view of the world with artistic expression.
  15. Use focused solitude: Find a place where you won’t be disturbed, then sit still and think quietly to yourself.
  16. Be determined: Tell yourself to never give up and you’ll be in the right mindset to take on difficult tasks.
  17. Believe in your abilities: Don’t worry too much about your ability to use your brain properly-by being confident in your abilities, you’ll do better.
  18. Give yourself structure: You need deadlines and limitations to accomplish more, and do things more efficiently.


These daily habits will give your brain the shakeup it needs to do well.

  1. Shower blind: Wake up your brain by relying on your tactile senses to clean yourself.
  2. Wear textured clothing: Improve your mind’s sense of touch by wearing clothing that you can really feel.
  3. Don’t do things on auto pilot: Think carefully about all of the decisions you make to increase your brain activity.
  4. Sleep on it: Sleeping on ideas will help you make tough decisions and solve problems.
  5. Always carry a notebook: You never know when a great thought will strike you, so always keep something to record your thoughts and ideas with.
  6. Wake up to a new smell: Change the smell that you associate with waking, and you’ll create new neural pathways.
  7. Relax at the end of the day: Use sensory stimuli like an aromatherapy bath to help you wind down and create a new path to relaxing at a smell.
  8. Write instead of typing: Writing by hand is great for stimulating ideas and exercising your creativity.
  9. Wear earplugs: Restrict your sense of hearing, and you’ll make your brain work harder.
  10. Brush with your non-dominant hand: By using your non-dominant hand, you’ll make your brain use the side of itself that it normally doesn’t use.
  11. Make use of dead time: Listen to books on tape while in traffic, or brainstorm ideas while raking your yard to give your brain constant healthy stimulation.
  12. Sit up straight: Your posture can affect your thinking process in a positive way.
  13. Read aloud with a partner: Reading aloud uses different brain circuits, so you’ll improve your brain power by doing so.
  14. Write before bed: Before going to bed, write in a journal or notepad to offload the day.
  15. Mix up your routine: Eat a different breakfast, take a new way to work, or watch a different TV program to throw some curveballs at your brain.


Make use of these mindhacks when learning.

  1. Learn things in order: Always start with the basics first, and you’ll find learning easier.
  2. Share your knowledge with others: Teaching others information will increase your own understanding, so be sure to teach and share whenever possible.
  3. Associate boring subjects with fun: You remember the things you enjoy, so make a game out of learning or create a fun story out of it.
  4. Interlink thoughts with others: Learn holistically and improve your recall by associating everything you learn with things you already know.


These communication hacks can help you influence your mind and the minds of others.

  1. Use framing: When creating a persuasive argument, frame it in a way that gives it positive or negative connotations.
  2. Use fluid speech: Avoid words such as “um” or “like” to make your speech more confident and persuasive.
  3. Mirror your subject: Mimic the body language of the people you’re trying to persuade, and they’ll feel a sense of empathy.
  4. Repeat what others are saying: By repeating what others say, you’ll help yourself remember better, as well as appear more sincere and interested.
  5. Use touch: Bond with others using subtle, polite touches.


Your brain can get tired, so give it some refreshment with these mind hacks.

  1. Listen to classical music: Listen to relaxing, classical music to stimulate your brain.
  2. Do the opposite of what you’re doing: If you’ve just drained your brain with intense work, give yourself a period of relaxation to restart things.
  3. Take a deep breath: Beathing well and deeply will move more oxygen and blood into your brain.
  4. Meditate: Close your eyes and observe the thoughts that come through your mind for about 20 minutes to refresh your brain’s energy.
  5. Take a 1 second nap: Go from daydreaming to 1 second twilight dreaming and wake up ready for action.
  6. Have sex: Sex will help you shift your focus and give you more energy to take on the next task.
  7. Play a sport: Playing a competitive sport will wake you up mentally.
  8. Shake your leg: If you’ve been sitting for a while, stand up and shake one or both legs to get your circulation moving and improve blood flow to your brain.
  9. Take a walk: Take your mind off of things and get some fresh air by taking a walk.
  10. Go to a movie: Immerse yourself in another world by going to watch a movie at a movie theater.
  11. Create digestable tasks: Break large projects down into smaller tasks, and create reasonable goals or completion.
  12. Take a caffeine nap: Drink a cup of coffee, and then take a 10-15 minute nap for a quick energy boost.
  13. Catch up on interesting reading: Reading a book or magazine that you like will help relax your brain while still keeping it active.
  14. Play a game: Playing a board game, video game, or brain game will help you give your brain both rest and stimulation.
  15. Listen to motivational CDs: Relax by listening and stimulate your brain at the same time with motivational CDs.


Make the most of your dreams with these mind hacks.

  1. Drink ice water: By drinking ice water just before bed, and right after waking up, you should have instant recall of the dreams in your sleep.
  2. Suppress REM: For one night, suppress REM with alcohol or antidepressants, and you should get a double dose the next night, along with vivid dreams.
  3. Talk about your dreams: If you discuss your dreams with others, you’ll reinforce your awareness of them and make it easier to recall them in the future.
  4. Take 5-HTP: This precursor to serotonin will help you promote deep sleep and have lucid dreams.
  5. Don’t sit up or stand up: Remain in bed to remember your dreams, as sitting up or standing up can erase them.
  6. Write down your dreams: Your dreams will fall out of your memory quickly, so write them down or record them as soon as you wake.
  7. Take galantamine: Taking galantamine can help promote memorable, colorful dreams.
  8. Verbally remind yourself to remember: Just before sleep, talk to yourself about remembering to pay careful attention to your dreams and recall them in the morning.
  9. Take more naps: Naps tend to have better REM, and will give you more vivid and lucid dreams.


These mind hacks will help you hack your brain for better finance.

  1. Match frivilous spending with savings: Each time you spend money in an irresponsible way, put the same amount into savings.
  2. Write down goals: Make your financial goals more concrete by putting them in writing.
  3. Tell other people your financial goals: By telling others your plans, you’ll be accountable and more likely to stick to them.
  4. Create a habit: If you want to save, make it a habit to place at least $1 into your savings stash every day.
  5. Create visual imagery of your goal: With a picture of your financial goal in sight, you will be more motivated to stick to your guns.

Productivity & Time Saving

With these mind hacks, you can be more productive and save time.

  1. Use proper timing: Don’t wait until the end of the day to remind yourself to take care of something. Time activities for when they are most likely to be completed.
  2. Clean out your inbox: Keep your inbox, desk, and thinking area clean to free up space and stress in your mind.
  3. Mind Map: Use Mind Maps to keep your important items together.
  4. Give yourself less time: If you give yourself less time in which to complete a task, you’re likely to just finish it within that time.
  5. Spreed: Use this tool to train your mind to quickly read through pieces of text.
  6. Scarcity: Remind yourself that an image, product, or idea is scarce, and you’ll be subconsciously drawn to take care of it.

Brain Games

Play these brain games to build up your mind’s muscle.

  1. Short Term Memory Test: Take this test to assess and improve your levels of short term memory.
  2. Guess the Colors: Figure out the layout of the colors in this game.
  3. Animated Memory Game: Use these memory games to give your brain some work.
  4. Simon Says: Follow Simon’s movies and copy them to give your memory a boost.
  5. Crime Scene: Watch this video and pick a criminal from a list of suspects.
  6. Fun Match Game: This matching memory game offers a variety of themes and varying difficulty.
  7. Face Memory Test: Find out how good your facial memory is with this test.
  8. Guess the Flag: Improve your visual memory and build your knowledge of world flags with this game.
  9. Memory Solitaire: Play this memory game by yourself to improve your brain’s memory skills.

Food & Health

Follow these tips to eat, drink and exercise your way to a better mind.

  1. Drink a glass of water: Give your brain the fuel it needs to stay lubricated and working well by keeping up with your water intake.
  2. Good fats: Omega-3 fatty acids can help your brain’s intellectual performance.
  3. Vegetables: Vegetables offer your brain a steady stream of energy.
  4. Eat more choline: Choline is a fat-like B vitamin found in eggs that can help with your memory and reaction time.
  5. Exercise: Exercising is good for concentration and can improve your overall health, which supports a smarter and more efficient brain.
  6. Control your cholesterol: Healthy cholesterol levels are good for mental sharpness and efficiency in blood flow to your brain.
  7. tl-fish.gif - 1684 BytesFish: Many fish are found to be good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
  8. Yogurt: Eating yogurt will help produce neurotransmitters and improve neuron signals.
  9. Apples: Apples and apple juice are great for their antioxidants and acetylchiline, which helps preserve memory.
  10. Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates can be mentally soothing at the right time and in the right amount.
  11. Alcohol: Moderate alcohol consumption can improve blood and oxygen flow to your brain.
  12. Use a smaller plate: Make yourself feel more full by simply eating off of a plate that is smaller.
  13. Fruit: Fruit will break down slowly, giving your brain a steady stream of energy.
  14. Non-caffeinated tea: Teas such as green tea will help to relax the brain and create mental alertness.


Internet use ‘good for the brain’

Areas activated by reading a book in the brain of an experienced web user

For middle-aged and older people at least, using the internet helps boost brain power, research suggests.

A University of California Los Angeles team found searching the web stimulated centres in the brain that controlled decision-making and complex reasoning.

The researchers say this might even help to counteract the age-related physiological changes that cause the brain to slow down.

The study features in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

 A simple, everyday task like searching the web appears to enhance brain circuitry in older adults 

Professor Gary Small
University of California Los Angeles

As the brain ages, a number of changes occur, including shrinkage and reductions in cell activity, which can affect performance.

It has long been thought that activities which keep the brain active, such as crossword puzzles, may help minimise that impact – and the latest study suggests that surfing the web can be added to the list.

Web use stimulates much more activity in the same brain

Lead researcher Professor Gary Small said: “The study results are encouraging, that emerging computerised technologies may have physiological effects and potential benefits for middle-aged and older adults.

“Internet searching engages complicated brain activity, which may help exercise and improve brain function.”

The latest study was based on 24 volunteers aged between 55 and 76. Half were experienced internet users, the rest were not.

Compared with reading

Each volunteer underwent a brain scan while performing web searches and book-reading tasks.

Both types of task produced evidence of significant activity in regions of the brain controlling language, reading, memory and visual abilities.

However, the web search task produced significant additional activity in separate areas of the brain which control decision-making and complex reasoning – but only in those who were experienced web users.

Brain activity in web newcomers: similar for reading and internet use

The researchers said that, compared to simple reading, the internet’s wealth of choices required people to make decisions about what to click on in order to get the relevant information.

However, they suggested that newcomers to the web had not quite grasped the strategies needed to successfully carry out a web search.

Professor Smith said: “A simple, everyday task like searching the web appears to enhance brain circuitry in older adults, demonstrating that our brains are sensitive and can continue to learn as we grow older.”

Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said: “These fascinating findings add to previous research suggesting that middle-aged and older people can reduce their risk of dementia by taking part in regular mentally stimulating activities.

“Older web users – ‘silver surfers’ – are doing precisely this.

“Frequent social interactions, regular exercise and maintaining a balanced diet can also reduce dementia risk.”

Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Use it or lose it may well be a positive message to keep people active but there is very little real evidence that keeping the brain exercised with puzzles, games or other activities can promote cognitive health and reduce the risk of dementia.”


Internet use ‘good for the brain’

Areas activated by reading a book in the brain of an experienced web user

For middle-aged and older people at least, using the internet helps boost brain power, research suggests.

A University of California Los Angeles team found searching the web stimulated centres in the brain that controlled decision-making and complex reasoning.

The researchers say this might even help to counteract the age-related physiological changes that cause the brain to slow down.

The study features in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

As the brain ages, a number of changes occur, including shrinkage and reductions in cell activity, which can affect performance.

It has long been thought that activities which keep the brain active, such as crossword puzzles, may help minimise that impact – and the latest study suggests that surfing the web can be added to the list.

Web use stimulates much more activity in the same brain

Lead researcher Professor Gary Small said: “The study results are encouraging, that emerging computerised technologies may have physiological effects and potential benefits for middle-aged and older adults.

“Internet searching engages complicated brain activity, which may help exercise and improve brain function.”

The latest study was based on 24 volunteers aged between 55 and 76. Half were experienced internet users, the rest were not.

Compared with reading

Each volunteer underwent a brain scan while performing web searches and book-reading tasks.

Both types of task produced evidence of significant activity in regions of the brain controlling language, reading, memory and visual abilities.

However, the web search task produced significant additional activity in separate areas of the brain which control decision-making and complex reasoning – but only in those who were experienced web users.

Brain activity in web newcomers: similar for reading and internet use

The researchers said that, compared to simple reading, the internet’s wealth of choices required people to make decisions about what to click on in order to get the relevant information.

However, they suggested that newcomers to the web had not quite grasped the strategies needed to successfully carry out a web search.

Professor Smith said: “A simple, everyday task like searching the web appears to enhance brain circuitry in older adults, demonstrating that our brains are sensitive and can continue to learn as we grow older.”

Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said: “These fascinating findings add to previous research suggesting that middle-aged and older people can reduce their risk of dementia by taking part in regular mentally stimulating activities.

“Older web users – ‘silver surfers’ – are doing precisely this.

“Frequent social interactions, regular exercise and maintaining a balanced diet can also reduce dementia risk.”

Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Use it or lose it may well be a positive message to keep people active but there is very little real evidence that keeping the brain exercised with puzzles, games or other activities can promote cognitive health and reduce the risk of dementia.”


Tapping Your Superconscious: Da Vinci’s Streamwriting technique


To spite all the recent talk about Da Vinci’s Code and his possible involvement with the Holy Grail, few would argue Leonardo Da Vinci’s qualities of genius. To those ends, what did he take part in that might have added to his genius? Was he born a genius? Or were there things he did that tapped into a part of his brain that remains hidden from most people?

Let’s suppose for a moment that he wasn’t born genius and whatevertools he used we can useto tap into the hidden genius too. What would it mean to you and your life if you could use the same tools Leonardo used in his life? What if you could apply those tactics to open the same pathway to the superconscious he did? Would you want to see your life from that perspective? Would you want to apply this expansiveness of thought?

It turns out much of what he did to harness the power of his superconscious is available to all of us. And although he applied many different methods, the one I’ll detail today is what I like to call Streamwriting.

Streamwriting is simply writing nonstop what is in your mind, unedited until your conscious mind gets out of the way and allows your superconscious to do the talking. Da Vinci used this method with his journals to solve specific problems and to seek answers that were otherwise hidden from his conscious experience.

Streamwriting sounds simple and it is. But the challenge is to stay with it until you break through and get the answers you seek. Here are the simple steps to get started streamwriting:

Take out your journal, notebook or a legal pad and write a subject or problem you want to solve at the top of a page. Word your problem using specific language and make the wanted outcome sound fun, exciting or pleasant. For instance, a question like “How can I earn an extra $1000 this month and enjoy the process?” would be better than “Make a $1000.”

Then, beneath your question start writing everything that pops into your head. Write related and unrelated thoughts that come to your mind. Keep your pen on paper and do not stop writing to think or get back on track. Your brain knows the problem, so you don’t need to consciously think about it. You need your conscious out of the way.

When you run out of ideas, keep writing anyway. Write “I am stuck” or “I can’t think of anything to write.” Don’t worry your conscious will likely get bored and let the ideas flow. Or you will change the subject to your goal or another side road that leads to the breakthrough. Just relax and keep writing.

I will say this method does take patience. You may need to do some streamwriting over the period of a week or more before your ideas blow you away. Where others may see results the first day. Overall, though, the more you practice, the quicker and better ideas you will get.

Tapping Your Superconscious: Power Idea Generation


This This technique has served me well over the years.   I posted it to the newsletter, but may not have put it on the blog.   Can’t remember.

Even if it was posted before, it is important enough to revisit.

It’s a method I learned originally through Earl Nightingale.   But it’s also strongly endorsed by Brian Tracy.   It’s a way to solve problems quickly and get answers that “bubble up from the subconscious.”

Here’s the way it works.     You go through an exercise of creating your own answers for your problem.   But this mission is just the beginning.   The answers you get from the act of doing the exercise aren’t as important as what you get later on.

To use a metaphor it’s almost like the first Karate Kid movie.   It wasn’t intense karate training that gave him strong reflexes and fighting ability.   It was the act of doing routine chores that lead to a “side effect” of karate skill.

So to do this process, all you need is a pen, sheet of paper and time – approximately 30-60 minutes of quiet solitude.   The way to begin is to list out your most pressing problem at the top of the sheet of paper.

Here are some examples:
1.   What is a fun way I can make extra money in my free time?
2.   How can I get in shape by summer and enjoy the process?

After you have that, you simply list out your own answers to that problem.   The goal is to think and write down at least 20 answers.

As you are answering your questions, think of all angles.   Think outside the box.   Imagine if you had no limitations or if you had a mentor to help.   There are no wrong answers so write them all down.

It’s recommended you repeat this process every day or until you have enough ideas where you don’t have enough time to implement them all.   You get a cumulative effect from this if you do it every day.   Practice makes perfect.   You’ll get more and better ideas more quickly.

But as I mentioned above, the payoff doesn’t come during the listbuilding process it comes later.   You might be driving down the street.   You might be folding socks.   You might wake up in the middle of the night.   But as you develop the habit of focused thought, your superconscious will reward you with these gems.   But the only way it can reward you is if you get awayfrom your thinking.

Take a break.   Take a walk.   Wash the dishes.   Whatever..just get going.   You don’t even have to think about your pressing issue.   Your superconscious mind will churn it over automatically and without any extra effort.

It’s also important that you take action on at least one of the answers on your list.   If you go to the “well of ideas” you need to faithfully pursue at least one of the actions.   I relate this to a bow and arrow.   If you load an arrow into a bow and shoot the arrow it flies fast and far.   If you don’t load the arrow into the bow, you could break the bow by just plucking it empty.

Don’t go to the well of ideas if you don’t plan on acting some of them.   You’ll break the process.

So there you go, set aside some time today and tomorrow, and the next to list out your own ideas to your most pressing problem.   Keep a pad and pen handy while you are away from your idea sessions so you can capture your super conscious insight

33 New Ways to Overclock Your Brain

“I just found out that the brain is like a computer. If that’s true, then there really aren’t any stupid people. Just people running DOS.” – Anonymous

  ‘ alt=”Overclock your brain” v:shapes=”_x0000_s1028″> You have, contained between your ears, an extraordinary potential that contemporary neuroscientists believe is “virtually limitless”. The brain is medicine’s final frontier and no one knows all there is to know, but you’re better off believing that, like muscles, motors and mainframes, your brain needs to keep moving to stay in top form.

I’m sure you committed to tweaking your lifestyle after reading my 22 Ways To Overclock Your Brain article. It got a positive reception, and I decided to bring forth 33 new ways.

So! If you’d like to upgrade, try out these tips for maximizing your brain potential:

1. Believe in your brain.

Do you find yourself worrying about amnesia? Give it up! Any concern you feel about your occasionally wayward memory later in life may actually make it worse. In a recent North Carolina State University research published in Psychology and Aging, healthy older folks scored poorly on memory tests after being informed that aging causes forgetfulness. Believing in negative stereotypes can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. And that’s a shame because your memory probably isn’t nearly as bad as you fear it is.

2. Organize your space for mental work.


Cluttered rooms and offices can contribute to cluttered thinking. If you find yourself too often feeling stressed, overwhelmed, bored, unmotivated, frustrated at work, perhaps your environment is reinforcing these negative states. Take those feelings as a signal to make some changes and create a more balanced and comfortable work area for yourself.

3. Learn the right things first.

Always start by learning the basics. Case in point: a frustrating way to learn a new language is to learn grammar, spelling and sentence constructs first. This is not the way a baby learns a language, and there’s no reason why an adult has to start differently, despite “expert” opinion. Try for yourself and see the difference.

4. Make a boring subject fun.

Try to cultivate interest, the more you become interested in it the easier it will be to pay attention to it. We tend to remember the things that we enjoy. So find ways to make a boring subject fun by associating it to something you already know. If you have to remember a list, try to make a fun sentence out of the first letters of each item or try categorizing things into a group. You can also use your imagination and create a fun story behind a subject to help make it easier to remember.

5. Think and learn holistically.

Holistic thinking might be the single most “advanced” learning technique. It means relating everything you learn to things you already know. This creates an interrelated web of information. Trying to memorize everything and if your memory fails you, that information is unreachable. But by interlinking your web of knowledge, if one route becomes blocked another is accessible.

6. Constrain yourself.

You need structure in your life. And by constraining yourself – say giving yourself deadlines, limiting your time on an idea in some manner, or limiting the tools you are working with – you can often accomplish more in less time.

7. Learn more efficiently.

When you decide to learn something, take notes from the start. Leave each “learning session” with some questions in mind, to create anticipation and eagerness. Take short breaks, so there will be more beginnings and endings to your studies (things learned at the beginning or ending of a session are remembered better).

8. Refresh your mind with meditation.

When most people think of meditation, they think of deep relaxation. But this ancient practice can do more than just soothe your soul, it may also sharpen your memory. According to a University of Kentucky study, subjects who took a late-afternoon test after meditating for 30 minutes had significantly better scores than those who napped for the same period.

Even more surprising, when the subjects were retested after being deprived of a full night’s sleep, those who meditated still scored better than their study counterparts. How could that be? Meditation, like sleep, reduces sensory input, and this quiet state may provide a time for neurons to process and solidify new information and memories.

9. Deep breaths for clearer thinking.

Breathing well and deeply has many positive effects on the body and its systems. More air in means more oxygen in the blood and therefore in the brain. Breath through your nose and you’ll notice that you use your diaphragm more, drawing air deeper into your lungs. Several deep breaths can also help to relax you, which is conducive to clearer thinking.

10. Turn off background noise.

We all multitask, a necessary survival skill of the digital age. But did you know that just listening to the news while browsing the Web can limit how well you’re able to recall both? Normally, when you take in new information, you process it with a part of the brain called the cerebral cortex. But multitasking greatly reduces learning because people can’t attend to the relevant information. That’s because the brain is forced to switch processing to an area called the striatum, and the information stored here tends to contain fewer important details.

Luckily, this kind of memory problem has an easy fix: Simply pay undivided attention to whatever you really want to recall later.

11. Kill those negative thoughts that invade your brain.

The thoughts that go through your mind, moment by moment, have a significant impact on how your brain works. Research by Mark George, MD and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health demonstrated that happy, hopeful thoughts had an overall calming effect on the brain, while negative thoughts inflamed brain areas often involved with depression and anxiety. Your thoughts matter.

12. Take a break.

Change physical or mental perspective to lighten the invisible stress that can sometimes occur when you sit in one place too long, focused on something. Taking a 10-15 minute break every hour is more beneficial than working non-stop. It gives your mind time to relax and sort things out.

13. Change your focus.

Sometimes there simply isn’t enough time to take a long break. If so, change subject focus. Alternate between technical and non-technical subjects.

14. Sit up straight.

Your posture affects your thinking process. Wanna prove it to yourself? Try solving some math in your head while slouching, looking at the floor and letting your mouth hang open. Then do the mental math while sitting up straight, keeping your mouth closed and looking forward or slightly upwards. You’ll notice that it’s easier to think with the latter posture.

15. Make the most out of your web surfing.

Go to a site like Wikipedia and enter a topic that interests you. As you read, follow the related links and see where you end up. You could theoretically start reading about the movie Rocky, but 20 minutes later you’ve moved from an entry on the boxer Muhammad Ali through an episode of The Simpsons, and now you’re reading about the Great Depression.

16. Take up a creative hobby.

Take up a creative hobby that requires specific or original thinking. Painting and photography arouse your mind while developing your own personal vision of the world. Meanwhile, games like chess may not get you laid right away, but they build strategic, radical thought processes and are a brilliant way to pass the time.

17. Write, don’t type.

While typing your notes into the computer is great for posterity, writing by hand stimulates ideas. It is a way to exercise your creativity and analytical ability. The simple act of holding and using a pen or pencil massages acupuncture points in the hand, which in turn stimulates ideas. Diaries, idea-journals, poetry, note-taking and story-writing are all ways to use writing to boost your brain power.

18. Use your dead time.

This is time that is otherwise wasted or just under-utilized. Driving time, time spent in waiting rooms, or even time spent raking your yard can be included in this. With a tape player and a trip to a public library, you can start to use this time to listen to books-on-tape. You may spend 200 hours a year in your car. What could you learn in that time?

19. High-tech brain power.

What’s an eight-letter word for brain booster? The answer could be Nintendo. Experts say playing one of the new games specially designed to improve your focus could have the indirect effect of getting your memory in shape. A host of new studies suggest that video games build rather than diminish cognitive skills. Even a relatively simple tiling puzzle like Tetris has been shown to boost brainpower. Whenever you solve puzzles or do brainteasers, you’re making the connections between your neurons work more efficiently, which is like putting money in the bank.

20. Shake your leg and get your blood flowing.

Lack of blood flow is a common reason for lack of concentration. If you’ve been sitting in one place for awhile, bounce one of your legs for a minute or two. It gets your blood flowing and sharpens both concentration and recall.

21. Reinvent the To-Do.

Go visual. Make a list of things to do each day and memorize it. As a help, try to mentally attach each “to do” to the corner of a geometrical figure. Three things to a triangle, four to a square and so on. Applying information design helps convey that information more clearly.

22. Learn a new language.

Learning a new language has been shown to halt the age-related decline in brain function. This also forces your mind to think in new and original routes and demands an active memory. Languages that are similar to English, such as a Romance (Spanish, Italian) or a Germanic language (German, Swedish), offer syntactical challenges, while languages with unfamiliar alphabets, like Russian or Yiddish, extend a host of fantastic double dares to you and your brain.

23. Share it with others.

Don’t keep your knowledge stored up. Teaching others will dramatically increase your own understanding. You should also become your own teacher. Don’t be afraid of taking on new challenges. You might not be in school anymore but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test yourself. After you learn something, it’s important to put the new information to use.

24. Catch some of those Zzzz’s.

Sleep plays a critical role in your physiological function and is vital for your intellectual development. A sleepy person’s brain works harder – and accomplishes less. A study using real-time, state-of-the-art imaging shows that sleep deprivation has dramatic effects on the brain and how well it performs. Memory failure is also a common occurrence for many sleep-deprived individuals. Another study conducted at the University of Luebeck found that creativity and problem solving appear to be directly linked to adequate sleep.

25. Carry a quality notebook at all times.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge dreamed the words of the poem “In Xanadu (did Kubla Khan)…”. Upon awakening, he wrote down what he could recall, but was distracted by a visitor and promptly forgot the rest of the poem. Forever. If you’ve been doing “walking meditation” or any kind of meditation or productive napping, ideas may suddenly come to you. Record them immediately.

26. Use imaginary friends.

Talking to and getting advice from personages in your mind can be a great way to access the information in your subconscious mind. Imagine a conversation with a person who has a lot of knowledge in the area you want advice in.

27. Control your cholesterol.

One of the many important roles cholesterol plays in the body is in our nervous system, enabling learning and memory to take place. A healthful cholesterol level is as essential for mental sharpness as it is for cardiovascular efficiency. When plaque, caused by “bad” LDL cholesterol, builds up in blood vessels, it can hinder circulation to the brain, depriving it of essential nutrients. One possible consequence: memory problems.

28. Check your iron.

Iron helps the neurotransmitters essential to memory function properly and your brain can be sensitive to low amounts. Iron deficiency – the most common nutrient deficiency in the United States – is linked to many adverse effects, including difficulty concentrating, diminished intelligence, and a shortened attention span. Iron helps carry oxygen to the brain, and the lack of oxygen associated with iron deficiency can cause brain cell activity to slow down significantly.

29. Glass of red for your head.

Flex your noodle by doing crossword puzzles and brain teasers for an hour or so, then cool down with a glass of wine – it, too, may help preserve your memory. According to research done by Philippe Maranbaud, PhD, a compound in red wine, resveratrol, may help ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Alcohol’s benefits to the heart it can help lower cholesterol levels may also protect against memory loss by improving circulation to the brain. But remember, everything in moderation: Drinking more than a glass won’t help, and it just might hurt.

30. Take a sip down memory lane.

Coffee is good for more than just getting you out of bed in the morning. Researchers from the University of Innsbruck in Austria used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the brain activity of people working on a memory task. The volunteers were tested twice, once after receiving the caffeine equivalent of about two cups of coffee, and once without any caffeine. Caffeine improved the memory skills and reactions times of the volunteers. In addition, caffeine increased brain activity in two locations-the memory-rich frontal lobe and the attention-controlling anterior cingulum. Studies have also found that key enzymes found in green and black teas help improve memory functions.

31. Munch some apples.

A couple of apples a day may keep the neurologist away. Apples and apple juice may be among the best foods that baby boomers and senior citizens could add to their diet. They have just the right dose of antioxidants to raise levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that’s essential to memory and tends to decline with age. In addition, antioxidants in apples help preserve memory by protecting brain cells against damage from free radicals created by everyday metabolic action, such as the processing of glucose by the body’s cells.

32. Double-check your meds.

You have to protect yourself and double-check everything. One side effect of taking many prescription and over-the-counter medication can be a worrisome increase in memory lapses. And as you get older, drugs tend to stay in your system for a longer period of time, increasing the likelihood of troublesome interactions. Fortunately, any drug-related impairment will likely improve as soon as the drug is discontinued. Speaking with your doctor about adjusting your dose or switching medications is often a simple solution.

33. Persist.

Never give up in the face of intimidating tasks. Wasn’t it Einstein that said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”? Thomas Edison said it, too.

An adage claims that wisdom is a primary benefit of getting older. While experience may provide some wisdom, without fine-tuning your brain now and again through exercise and nutrition, it’ll become incrementally more difficult for you to sort out that wisdom.

22 Ways to Overclock Your Brain

The brain is a three-pound supercomputer. It is the command and control center running your life. It is involved in absolutely everything you do. Your brain determines how you think, how you feel, how you act, and how well you get along with other people. Your brain even determines the kind of person you are. It determines how thoughtful you are; how polite or how rude you are. It determines how well you think on your feet, and it is involved with how well you do at work and with your family. Your brain also influences your emotional well being and how well you do with the opposite sex.

Your brain is more complicated than any computer we can imagine. Did you know that you have one hundred billion nerve cells in your brain, and every nerve cell has many connections to other nerve cells? In fact, your brain has more connections in it than there are stars in the universe! Optimizing your brain’s function is essential to being the best you can be, whether at work, in leisure, or in your relationships.

It’s simple, your brain is at the center of everything you do, all you feel and think, and every nuance of how you relate to people. It’s both the supercomputer that runs your complex life and the tender organ that houses your soul. And while you may run, lift weights, or do yoga to keep your body in good condition, chances are you ignore your brain and trust it to do its job.

No matter what your age, mental exercise has a global, positive effect on the brain. So, here are 22 ways to boost your brain power:

. Run up your brain cells.

Research suggests that people who get plenty of physical exercise can wind up with better brains. Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., found that adult mice who ran on an exercise wheel whenever they felt like it gained twice as many new cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in learning and memory, than mice who sat around all day discussing Lord of the Rings in Internet chat rooms. The researchers weren’t sure why the more active rodents’ brains reacted the way they did, but it’s possible that the voluntary nature of the exercise made it less stressful and therefore more beneficial. Which could mean that finding ways to enjoy exercise, rather than just forcing yourself to do it, may make you smarter – and happier, too.

So, play a sport, train for an event such as a marathon, triathlon or “fun run,” or work out with a buddy to help keep things interesting.



2. Exercise your mind.

It isn’t just physical exercise that gets those brain cells jumping. Just like those head-pumped cabbies and piano jockeys, you can build up various areas of your brain by putting them to work. Duke University neurobiology professor Lawrence C. Katz, Ph.D., co-author of Keep Your Brain Alive, says that finding simple ways to use aspects of your brain that may be lagging could help maintain both nerve cells and dendrites, branches on the cells that receive and process information. Just as a new weightlifting exercise builds up underused muscles, Katz says that novel ways of thinking and viewing the world can improve the functioning of inactive sections of the brain.

Experience new tastes and smells; try to do things with your nondominant hand; find new ways to drive to work; travel to new places; create art; read that Dostoyevsky novel; write a buddy comedy for Ted Kennedy and Rush Limbaugh – basically, do anything you can to force yourself out of your mental ruts.

3. Ask why.

Our brains are wired to be curious. As we grow up and “mature” many of us stifle or deny our natural curiosity. Let yourself be curious! Wonder to yourself about why things are happening. Ask someone in the know. The best way to exercise our curiosity is by asking “Why?” Make it a new habit to ask “why?” at least 10 times a day. Your brain will be happier and you will be amazed at how many opportunities and solutions will show up in your life and work.

4. Laugh.

Scientists tell us that laughter is good for our health; that it releases endorphins and other positively powerful chemicals into our system. We don’t really need scientists to tell us that it feels good to laugh. Laughing helps us reduce stress and break old patterns too. So laughter can be like a “quick-charge” for our brain’s batteries. Laugh more, and laugh harder.

5. Be a fish head.

Omega-3 oils, found in walnuts, flaxseed and especially fish, have long been touted as being healthy for the heart. But recent research suggests they’re a brain booster as well, and not just because they help the circulation system that pumps oxygen to your head. They also seem to improve the function of the membranes that surround brain cells, which may be why people who consume a lot of fish are less likely to suffer depression, dementia, even attention-deficit disorder. Scientists have noted that essential fatty acids are necessary for proper brain development in children, and they’re now being added to baby formulas. It’s possible that your own mental state, and even your intelligence, can be enhanced by consuming enough of these oils.

Eating at least three servings a week of fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and tuna is a good start.

6. Remember.

Get out an old photo album or high school yearbook. Your brain is a memory machine, so give it a chance to work! Spend time with your memories. Let your mind reflect on them and your mind will repay you in positive emotions and new connections from the memories to help you with your current tasks and challenges.

7. Cut the fat.

Can “bad” fats make you dumb? When researchers at the University of Toronto put rats on a 40-percent-fat diet, the rats lost ground in several areas of mental function, including memory, spatial awareness and rule learning. The problems became worse with a diet high in saturated fats, the kind that’s abundant in meat and dairy products. While you may never be called upon to navigate a little maze in search of a cheddar cube, these results could hold true for you as well, for two reasons: Fat can reduce the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your brain, and it may also slow down the metabolism of glucose, the form of sugar the brain utilizes as food.

You can still get up to 30 percent of your daily calories in the form of fat, but most of it should come from the aforementioned fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Whatever you do, stay away from trans fats, the hardened oils that are abundant in crackers and snack foods.

8. Do a puzzle.

Some of us like jigsaw puzzles, some crossword puzzles, some logic puzzles – it really doesn’t matter kind you choose to do. Doing puzzles in your free time is a great way to activate your brain and keep it in good working condition. Do the puzzle for fun, but do it knowing you are exercising your brain.

9. The “Mozart Effect.”

A decade ago Frances Rauscher, a psychologist now at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh , and her colleagues made waves with the discovery that listening to Mozart improved people’s mathematical and spatial reasoning. Even rats ran mazes faster and more accurately after hearing Mozart than after white noise or music by the minimalist composer Philip Glass. Last year, Rauscher reported that, for rats at least, a Mozart piano sonata seems to stimulate activity in three genes involved in nerve-cell signalling in the brain.

This sounds like the most harmonious way to tune up your mental faculties. But before you grab the CDs, hear this note of caution. Not everyone who has looked for the Mozart effect has found it. What’s more, even its proponents tend to think that music boosts brain power simply because it makes listeners feel better – relaxed and stimulated at the same time – and that a comparable stimulus might do just as well. In fact, one study found that listening to a story gave a similar performance boost.

10. Improve your skill at things you already do.

Some repetitive mental stimulation is ok as long as you look to expand your skills and knowledge base. Common activities such as gardening, sewing, playing bridge, reading, painting, and doing crossword puzzles have value, but push yourself to do different gardening techniques, more complex sewing patterns, play bridge against more talented players to increase your skill, read new authors on varied subjects, learn a new painting technique, and work harder crossword puzzles. Pushing your brain to new heights help to keep it healthy.

11. Be a thinker, not a drinker.

The idea that alcohol kills brain cells is an old one, but the reality is a bit more complicated. In fact, a study of 3,500 Japanese men found that those who drank moderately (in this case, about one drink per day) had better cognitive functioning when they got older than those who didn’t drink at all. Unfortunately, as soon as you get beyond that “moderate” amount, your memory, reaction time is all likely to decline. In the same study, men who had four or more drinks a day fared worst of all.

Just as bad is the now common practice of “binge drinking,” otherwise known as getting hammered on the weekend. Research on rats found that those who consumed large amounts of alcohol had fewer new cells in their brains’ hippocampus region immediately after the binge, and virtually none a month later. This suggests that the alcohol not only damaged the rats’ brains, but kept them from repairing themselves later on – in human terms, that means you shouldn’t expect to pass the Mensa entrance exam any time soon.

12. Play.

Take time to play. Make time to play. Play cards. Play video games. Play board games. Play Ring Around the Rosie. Play tug of war. It doesn’t matter what you play. Just play! It is good for your spirit and good for your brain. It gives your brain a chance to think strategically, and keeps it working.

13. Sleep on it.

Previewing key information and then sleeping on it increases retention 20 to 30 percent. You can leave that information next to the bed for easy access, if it is something that won’t keep you awake. If you are kept awake by your thoughts, writing everything down sometimes gets it “out of your mind,” allowing you to sleep (so keep a pen and paper nearby).

14. Concentration.

Concentration can increase brainpower. Obvious, perhaps, but the thieves of concentration are not always so obvious. Learn to notice when you are distracted. Often the cause is just below consciousness. If there is a phone call you need to make, for example, it might bother you all morning, sapping your ability to think clearly, even while you are unaware of what is bothering you.

Get in the habit of stopping to ask “What is on my mind right now”. Identify it and deal with it. In the example given, you could make the phone call, or put it on tomorrow’s list, so your mind is comfortable letting it go for now. This leaves you in a more relaxed state where you can think more clearly. Use this technique to increase your brainpower now.

15. Make love for your brain.

In a series of studies by Winnifred B. Cutler, PhD and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania and later at Stanford University it was found that regular sexual contact had an important impact on physical and emotional well being of women. Sexual contact with a partner at least once a week led to more fertile, regular menstrual cycles, shorter menses, delayed menopause, increased estrogen levels, and delayed aging. Brain imaging studies at UCLA have shown that decreased estrogen levels are associated with overall decreased brain activity and poor memory. Enhancing estrogen levels for women through regular sexual activity enhances overall brain activity and improves memory.

In Dr. Cutler’s study the occurrence of orgasm was not as important as the fact that sex was with another person. Intimacy and emotional bonding may be the most influential factors in the positive aspects of sex. As a psychiatrist I have seen many people withhold sex as a way to show hurt, anger, or disappointment. Dr. Cutler’s research suggests that this is self-defeating behavior. The more you withhold the worse it may be for you. Appropriate sex is one of the keys to the brain’s fountain of youth.

 16. Play with passion!

You can’t do great work without personal fulfillment. When people are growing through learning and creativity, they are much more fulfilled and give 127% more to their work. Delight yourself and you delight the world. Remember what you loved to do as a child and bring the essence of that activity into your work. This is a clue to your genius; to your natural gifts and talents. da Vinci, Edison, Einstein and Picasso all loved to play and they loved to explore.

17. Cycles of consciousness.

Your consciousness waxes and wanes throughout the day . For most it seems to go through 90 minute cycles, with 30 minutes of lower consciousness. Watch yourself to recognize this cycle. If you learn to recognize and track your mental state, you can concentrate on important mental tasks when your mind is most “awake”. For creative insight into a problem, do the opposite. Work on it when you are in a drowsy state, when your conscious mind has slowed down.

18. Learn something new.

This one might seem obvious. Yes, we capitalize on our brain’s great potential when we put it to work learning new things. You may have a specific topic for work or leisure that you want to learn more about. That’s great.

Go learn it. If you don’t have a subject in mind right now, try learning a new word each day. There is a strong correlation between working vocabulary and intelligence. When we have new words in our vocabulary, our minds can think in new ways with greater nuances between ideas. Put your mind to work learning. It is one of the best ways to re-energize your brain.

19. Write to be read.

I am a big proponent of writing in a journal to capture ideas and thoughts. There is certainly great value in writing for yourself. I continue to find that my brain is greatly stimulated by writing to be read. The greatest benefit of writing is what it does to expand your brain’s capacity. Find ways to write to be read – by writing things for your friends to read, by capturing the stories of your childhood, starting your own blog or whatever – just write to be read.

20. Try aroma therapy to activate your brain.

One day, as I was falling asleep, while listening to endless speeches at a conference, my brain suddenly perked up when I caught a whiff of lemon from someone’s cologne. I immediately felt alert and found it much easier to pay attention to the presenter. I discovered aroma therapy really is useful and I have used it ever since revitalize or to relax.

Energizers include peppermint, cypress and lemon. Relaxants: ylang ylang, geranium and rose. A few drops of essential oils in your bath or in a diffuser will do the trick. You can also put a drop or two in a cotton ball or hanky and inhale. One caveat for the workplace; make sure no-one is allergic to the oils before you use them.

21. Drugs to increase brainpower.

Coffee and other drinks containing caffeine help students consistently score higher on tests. Since caffeine restricts blood vessels in the brain, it isn’t clear what the longer-term effects may be when it comes to your brainpower. So instead of coffee breaks try gingko biloba and gotu kola herbal teas. Ginkgo biloba has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, and improve concentration.

22. Build a brain trust.

Surround yourself with inspiring people from a wide variety of fields who encourage you and stimulate your creativity. Read magazines from a wide variety of fields. Make connections between people, places and things, to discover new opportunities, and to find solutions to your problems.

Remember that no matter what your age or your occupation; your brain needs to be constantly challenged to be at its peak in terms of performance. Whether it’s doing logic puzzles, memorizing lines from Shakespeare, or learning a new skill, keep your brain busy, if you don’t want it to rust away like a car in a junkyard.

Mindhacks: 5 Ways to Increase Creativity, Productivity and Intelligence


“Early to bed and early to rise will make a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

We’re all familiar with this old proverb, popularized in Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanac.” And in this day and age, most people will do just about anything to give themselves a mental edge, including hitting the sack early and rising with the dawning sun if need be. But aside from this anecdotal option, are there any proven ways to increase your brainpower? Absolutely.


Memory games 

According to a recent study reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers have discovered that playing memory games (such as matching pictures on face-down cards) can improve your “fluid intelligence” – your ability to solve new problems – because both memory and fluid intelligence seem to use the same neural pathways. Once thought to be set in stone, the news that fluid intelligence can be improved by intentional exercise is considered a breakthrough result. So haul out those memory games and get busy getting smarter.

Clean out your buckets!

According to productivity experts, one way we sabotage our productivity is by letting our “buckets” fill up. In productivity-speak, a bucket is any holding space we tend to stick things into until we can “get around to them.” A bucket can be an email or physical inbox, a desk, a purse – even your own mind. As our buckets fill up, we lose productivity because we can’t easily find things, we fall behind, we get overwhelmed by the sheer mass of stuff left undone and so on. The key to increasing productivity, then, is to keep your buckets as empty as possible. Either act on a thing immediately, determine there is no action to take and toss it, or file it away for later action with automatic action tickler (like an Outlook reminder). Whatever you do, do something – don’t just stick it in a bucket and let it pile up.

GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out

You’re only as smart, creative and innovative as the resources you have to call on. The key to maximizing your intelligence and creativity is to maximize the quality of your input. Read a quality newspaper or two, and subscribe to magazines with a wide range of subjects. Sign up for a diverse selection of workshops, classes, lectures and other events that pique your interest. Visit museums and artistic performances to expand your view of the world. The more and better quality stuff you put in, the more and better quality stuff you’ll get out.

Stay healthy

Your mind is only as sound as your body. Eating right, getting plenty of exercise and keeping on top of any conditions or illnesses is vital to top performance. And stay on top of any medical conditions, illnesses or injuries. Nothing wears your body down than trying to heal itself against a constant current of neglect.

Stay connected

Sound mental and emotional health is just as important as physical health to maintaining peak performance. And one of the best ways to stay mentally and emotionally healthy is to stay connected. Studies have long shown that the people who stay active, engaged and productive longest are those with strong social networks. Being surrounded by supportive friends and family, engaging in meaningful activities such as spiritual worship or community service and being an active part of a social group are important to the strength and health of the human psyche.

Oblique Strategies

Oblique Strategies (subtitled over one hundred worthwhile dilemmas) is a set of published cards created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt first published in 1975, and now in its fifth edition. Each card contains a phrase or cryptic remark which can be used to break a deadlock or dilemma situation.


  • State the problem in words as clearly as possible.
  • Only one element of each kind.
  • What would your closest friend do?
  • What to increase? What to reduce?
  • Are there sections? Consider transitions.
  • Try faking it!
  • Honour the error as a hidden intention.

From the introduction to the 2001 edition:

These cards evolved from separate observations of the principles underlying what we were doing. Sometimes they were recognised in retrospect (intellect catching up with intuition), sometimes they were identified as they were happening, sometimes they were formulated. They can be used as a pack, or by drawing a single card from the shuffled pack when a dilemma occurs in a working situation. In this case the card is trusted even if its appropriateness is quite unclear…

Decision Making 101

If you are familiar with’s “Mind Hack” posts this is the first Mind Hack post for  I hope that this changes the way that you approach decision making and benefits you in you career and your life.


Decision making is one of the most important skills an individual can learn.  People say that life is just a series of decisions and they’re right!  Every situation you encounter in life is going to present a different set of opportunities and your ability to decipher what the right decision is can literally make or break you.  This applies to ones personal life as well as ones career.  My method of decision making is very helpful but a little different than most peoples.  It is very common to just list the pros and cons and whichever list is longer go with that choice.  We’ll I go a step further and I apply a weight or a degree of importance to each pro and each con. Then I add the numbers up and that is my choice.  It is a very simple and logical way to help you make up your mind with big decisions.  For this example I will use the decision to move away from San Diego (awesome) and come to Chicago (pretty sweet). 

First the PROS… (Always start positive):

·         Friends  weight: (9)

·         Girlfriend (9)

·         Job opportunities (6)

·         Great social life (4)

·         New experiences (8)

·         Challenge & Out of comfort zone (4) – yes this is a positive

Total: 40

Then the CONS…

·         No more surfing (4)

·         Away from Family (7)

·         The slight (very slight) possibility that I would ever life in SD again (10)

·         Leaving SD friends (8)

·         Leaving a solid network of job opps (2)

·         Chi-towns beach vs. beaches in SD (3)

Total: 34

40 points to move to Chicago , 34 to stay in San Diego …thus, my decision to move to

Chicago .  I’ve used this method of decision making all through college and now in the “real world” and it still seems to be pretty accurate and very helpful.  Give it a try, your decision making will be more logical and you will see the changes in your life.

Why You Should Risk Dweebhood with Written Goals

Once you get over the idea that people who walk around with a list of personal goals in their pocket are utter self-improvement dweebs, you should make writing your own list a number one priority. There are bookshelves full of annoying self-help hype around the notion of personal goal setting, which is why we’re skeptics just like you are. But the truth is, when you feel like you’re drifting aimlessly, unhappy with your job, finances, location, fitness level, whatever—it’s time to start writing down goals. A personal goals program is a training regimen for your mind: it makes you visualize a finish line in a better place than the one you’re in now, and it helps you get there. Let’s take a look at why you should shrug off all the cringe-worthy reasons not to think about goals, sit down with a piece of paper, and start writing.

Goals mean you’re trying to be better. Ask anyone if they want to be a better person, and you’ll get “Of course!” as an answer. Ask them what better means and how they’re getting there, and you’ll probably get a pair of blinking eyes in response. Setting a goal is simply articulating an improved state of being, thinking through the steps in between where you are now and where that better place is, and taking them. Setting goals means you’re actively trying to be better. Frankly, it’s a rare occurrence in a world where most people get up, take a shower, pour coffee, and go about their business as usual in exactly the same place they were yesterday.

Writing things down makes them happen. Something potent occurs when a thought graduates from a couple of synapses firing off in your head to a statement on paper: the idea gets a life of its own, it becomes a possibility that can stare back at you, and ask what you’re going to do about it. Writing down your goals means you’ll have a reminder, a record, and most importantly, the experience of promoting an idle thought that deserves to be more than that to a written statement. Lots of people may have goals in their heads, but a goal is only a whim until you articulate it.

Written goals make time for big thinking upfront. Just as we discussed in the art of making a doable to-do list, thinking and doing are two very different modes. Like composing a good to-do list, writing down a goal requires you to do your higher-level thinking first, to put on “The Boss” hat, to consider the big picture, to decide how you want to spend your time on this planet. Then, when you’re in out in the world doing your regular, everyday, mundane tasks, wearing your “Personal Assistant” hat, you can just do whatever actions align with the plan The Boss laid out. Most people skip the thinking part and let themselves get swept into the everyday mundane tasks part, like commuting to work or grocery shopping for dinner. Those are the people who, several years down the road, stop and wonder where the heck all their time went, and feel that terrible twinge of regret that they didn’t do something more worthwhile with it. Letting yourself just go through each day without thinking things through means you’re drifting, going wherever the waves toss you. Having goals means that when the rubber hits the road, your tires are pointed the right way.

Written goals give you hyper-focus and clarity. Why do you spend so much of your time leveling up your character or shooting down aliens or collecting gold in your favorite video game? Because the rules of the game are clear, the tasks are obvious and laid out, and all you have to do is practice, shoot and collect to make it to the next level—instant accomplishment. A goals program is like setting up levels in your life and work—the difference is, you have to make the rules and designate what the loot is.

Written goals make it easy to cut the crap. One of the most effective ways to have more time and get stuff done faster is to opt out of the activities and tasks that aren’t important enough to spend your time on. Having goals makes that assessment exponentially easier: when you have doubt about an activity or commitment, all you have to do is figure out whether or not it helps you reach your goals. No? Then cross it off your list or calendar—you have no reason to be there. When you’ve written down goals, you’ve given yourself a direction to point in, hyper-focus, and clarity about what each day’s point is. Goals means you’ve thought things through sooner rather than later, and the answers to the smaller questions snap into focus. “Should I stay at this job?” “Should I start this business?” “Should I go on this trip?” All those answers come easy when you’ve decided on your goals.

Written goals prepare you for the best and the worst. Setting and working towards goals is not a single-pass process—it’s an iterative practice of setting your sights higher than your current position, and climbing the ladder to get there. Constantly. Sometimes you’ll make it, and sometimes you won’t, and when you don’t, you’ll revise your goals into something you can make, and try again. That habit of constantly trying for something just beyond you toughens you up, sets your mind into a permanently hungry and optimistic state, ready and willing to do the work to make things better—and able to cope when things get worse. A person who’s set and achieved goals in life is more likely to weather the storm of a layoff or illness or tragedy because they’ve trained themselves to be goals-oriented, to think positively and work toward something better. That’s their modus operandi—they don’t know how else to be. This is the part about goal-setting that just doesn’t get the press it deserves. People who work on goals put optimism into practice. Every attempt you make to get better (whether you fail or succeed) makes you a stronger, fitter, and more capable person, the person you want to be when all hell breaks loose. Goals prepare you to get better and for worse times.

Now that you’re convinced that having goals is a good thing, how do you decide on them? In the next installment of this Goal Setting for Skeptics series, we’ll cover how to set goals when you don’t know what you want to achieve.

In the meantime, tell us: why have you chosen to write down (or not write down) your goals? Tell us about it in the comments.

Nap without guilt: It boosts sophisticated memory


(AP) — Just in time for the holidays, some medical advice most people will like: Take a nap. Interrupting sleep seriously disrupts memory-making, compelling new research suggests. But on the flip side, taking a nap may boost a sophisticated kind of memory that helps us see the big picture and get creative

How to Persuade People with Subconscious Techniques


Persuasiveness is one of the most important skills anyone can learn because it is useful in countless situations.At work, at home, and in your social life, the ability to be persuasive and influence others can be instrumental for achieving goals and being happy.

Learning about the tricks of persuasion can also give you insight into when they’re being used on you. The biggest benefit of this is that money will stay in your pocket as you realize just how sales people and advertisers sell you products that you don’t necessarily need. Here are several techniques that work on a subconscious level.


  1. Framing. When someone tells you “Don’t think about an elephant” you find it difficult to comply; by just mentioning “elephant”, the image pops into your mind, regardless of the context. This is a classic example of framing. [1] Framing is frequently used by skillful politicians. For instance, politicians on both sides of the abortion debate cite their positions as “pro-life or pro-choice” because “pro” has better connotations than “anti.” Framing subtly uses emotionally charged words to shift people towards your point of view.

    To frame a persuasive argument, select words that conjure images (positive, negative or neutral) in the minds of your audience. Even with other words nearby, a single framing word can still be effective. Another example is illustrated by the difference between saying “Having a cell phone will keep me out of trouble” and “Having a cell phone will keep me safe”. Ponder which word is more effective for your message: “trouble” or “safe”.



Mirroring. Mirroring is the practice of mimicking the movements and body language of the person you are trying to persuade. By acting as the person listening does, you create a sense of empathy. You can mirror hand gestures, leaning forward or away, or various head and arm movements. We all do this subconsciously, and if you pay attention you’ll probably notice yourself doing it. Be subtle about it and delay 2-4 seconds between the other person’s movement and your mirroring. Mirroring is also known as “the chameleon effect”.[2]

  1. Scarcity. Scarcity is frequently used by advertisers to make opportunities seem more appealing because they have limited availability. The assumption is that if a product is scarce, there must be a ton of demand for it! (Buy one now because they’re selling out fast). Be aware that this is a method of persuasion to which you are frequently exposed and take it into account when you make your purchase decision.
  2. Reciprocation. When someone does something for us, we feel compelled to return the favor. So, if you want someone to do something nice for you, why not do something nice for them first? In a business setting, maybe you pass them a lead. At home, you might offer to lend your lawnmower to a neighbor. It doesn’t matter where or when you do it, the key is to complement the relationship.
  3. Timing. People are more likely to be agreeable and submissive when they’re mentally fatigued. Before you ask someone for something they might not readily agree to, consider waiting until they’ve just done something mentally taxing. This could be at the end of the work day when you catch a co-worker on their way out the door. Whatever you ask, a likely response is, “I’ll take care of it tomorrow.”
  4. Congruence. We all try, subconsciously, to be consistent with previous actions. A technique used by salespeople is to shake your hand as he is negotiating with you. In most people’s minds, a handshake equates to a closed deal, and by doing this before the deal actually closed, the salesperson is more likely to actually close it. A good way to use this yourself is to get people acting before they make up their minds. For example, if you were out and about with a friend and you wanted to go see a movie but the friend was undecided, you could start walking in the direction of the theater while they are considering it. Your friend is more likely to agree to go once he or she is walking in the direction you set.
  5. Fluid speech. When we talk, we often use little interjections and hesitant phrases such as “ummm” or “I mean” and of course there is the ubiquitous “like”. These little conversation fillers have the unintended effect of making us seem less confident and sure of ourselves, and thus less persuasive. If you’re confident in your speech, others will be more easily persuaded by what you have to say.
  6. Herd behavior. We constantly look to those around us to determine our actions; we have the need for acceptance. We are far more likely to follow or be persuaded by someone we like or by someone who we see as an authority. An effective way to use this to your advantage is to be seen as a leader — even if you don’t have the official title. Be charming and confident and people will place greater weight on your opinion. If you’re dealing with someone who isn’t likely to see you as an authority (such as a superior in the workplace, or your significant other’s parent) you can still take advantage of herd behavior. Casually praise a leader who that person admires. By triggering positive thoughts in that person’s mind about a person they look up to, they’ll be more likely to associate those qualities with you.


Man’s best friend. To give people the impression that you’re loyal, and to inspire them to be loyal to you, put up a picture of you with a dog (it doesn’t even have to be your own dog). This can make you seem like a team player, but don’t go overboard; putting up too many pictures can make you seem unprofessional.[3]

  1. Offer a drink. Give the person who you’re persuading a warm drink (tea, coffee, hot cocoa) to hold while you’re talking to them. The warm sensation of the drink in their hands (and their body) can subconsciously make them feel like you’re an emotionally warm, likable and welcoming person. Giving them a cold drink can have the opposite effect! In general, people tend to feel cold and crave warm food or drinks when they’re feeling socially isolated, so fill that need in order to make them more receptive.[4]


Break the touch barrier. Whether you’re closing a deal or asking someone on a date, touching them (in a subtle and appropriate way) can improve your chances by subconsciously activating the human desire to bond. In a professional it is usually best to ‘touch” someone verbally by offering reassurance or praise as a physical touch can be interpreted as sexual harassment. In romantic situations, any soft touch from a woman will usually be taken well; men will require further reading in order to avoid making a woman feel uncomfortable.[3]

Tapping Your Superconscious: Cut your stress by 63% and Gain Inspiration using Focused Solitude

What if I gave you a simple method that if used, you could cut your stress level by 63% while focusing your mind like a laser beam? Would you try it? Or better, would you try it and post your results here?

I’ve mentioned this method before here. But it is easy to overlook it as being too simple or basic to amount to anything constructive.

I’ll admit when I first heard about it, I ignored it too. Brian Tracy used to speak about it in his seminars and I’d think “That’s ridiculous. That will never work.” However, after doing it over the years, I’ve come to value it for not only the great ideas I’ve gained, but its ability
as a “stress buster.” Whenever I am overwhelmed or stressed with a project or deadline, this technique always kills the stress and focuses my thoughts and ideas in the direction I need to go.

From there, the juices are flowing. My work becomes easy and almost effortless. And I have a sense of peace and optimism that can sometimes keep me going for days.

So what is this extra-simple technique?

It is focused solitude.

Like I mentioned above, it seems easy to do, but as you’ll find out, it isn’t easy to do. In fact, it might be one of the more difficult tasks you do all day.

All you do is find a quiet place where nobody will disturb you for ½ hour to 1 hour. Find an office with a door you can shut or you can sit in your car.

Once you are in this quiet place, turn off all cell phones, pagers, radios and any other gear that could disturb you.

Then just sit quietly.

Don’t drink or eat. Don’t read. Don’t twiddle your thumbs or fidget.

Sit still for one half hour to an hour.

It may help if at the beginning of the session if you picture your #1 goal for a second. You can think for a moment about your most pressing problem if you prefer.

Then let it go.

“So I just sit still for ½ hour to an hour and do nothing? What’s so hard about that?” You say.

You’ll see.

Odds are you spend most of the day in movement. You fill up your schedule doing stuff. Not moving or doing anything is not easy.

You might want to fidget. You might remember something important to do later that you want to write on your task pad. You might want to drink some water.

Not now. Now is not the time.

Eventually, it may happen in 20 minutes, it may happen in 40, but what you’ll see is a clearing of the stress and clutter in your mind.

You’ll begin to relax.

You’ll begin to focus.

Then you’ll be able to see!

Optimism is a natural result of finally seeing what is important and right for you to be doing.

Then you will not want the session to end.


You might resist trying this method. If you are busy like all of us, you may say “I’m stressed out of my mind! I don’t have enough time to sit for an hour and just think.”

However, let’s look at that for a second. Do you always trust negatively stressed people to make the best decisions? If there is a surgeon about to perform brain surgery on a loved one, do you want the doctor relaxed and focused or stressed with his mind on 1001 things?

If you are so stressed, how do you know you have your priorities in line? How do you know what you are doing is the most efficient way to your goal?

The superconscious is counterintuitive.

It works best while you are quiet. If you push, it will push back. So just sit quietly – for the entire time.

Give this a try and let me know what you think.

Be sure to write down a “before” and “after” on your stress level and your focus. You might find your stress down by more than the 63% I promised. It might be gone 100% when you finish.


 Mind Hacks: 10 Offbeat Fun Ways to Grow Your Brain

It’s simple, our brain is at the center of everything we do, all we feel and think, and every nuance of how we relate to people. It’s both the supercomputer that runs our perplexing life and the tender organ that houses our soul. So it is very important to focus on keeping our brain in shape.

All of us have our morning rituals to get us promptly and “mindlessly” out the door. These set routines allow the brain to go on automatic pilot and be more efficient. And at bedtime, when we need to wind down from a day of mental and physical exertion, routines are similarly comforting.

Because routines are so deep-rooted in our mornings and evenings, they’re ideal times to inject a bit of novelty to awaken new brain circuits.



  1. Wake Up and Smell the Vanilla


To change your usual morning olfactory association — waking to the smell of freshly brewed coffee — wake up to something different — vanilla, citrus, peppermint, or rosemary. Keep an extract of your preferred aroma in an airtight container on your bedside table for a week and release it when you first awaken, and then again as you bathe and dress.

Odds are you can’t remember precisely when you “learned” to associate the smell of java with the start of a day. By consistently linking a new odor with your morning routine, you are activating new neural pathways.

  1. Stay Blind in the Shower

Locate the taps and regulate the temperature and flow using just your tactile senses. In the shower locate all needed props by feel, then wash, shave, and so on, with your eyes shut. Your hands will most likely notice different textures of your own body you aren’t aware of when you are “looking.”

Even though it is probably the least interfering or time-consuming suggestion, this shower exercise will wake up the brain.

  1. Brushing 2.0

Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand (including the tube and applying toothpaste). This activity challenges you to operate the opposite side of your brain rather than the side you usually use.

Therefore, all those circuits, connections, and brain areas involved in using your predominant hand are inactive, while their counterparts on the other side of your brain are suddenly required to direct a set of behaviors in which they usually don’t participate.

Studies have found that this type of exercise can result in a rapid and considerable expansion of circuits in the parts of the cortex that control and process tactile information from the hand.

  1. A Touch of Style

Without looking, pick clothing, shoes, and so on, with corresponding or contrasting textures. For example, make it a silky, smooth day or a rough, nubby day. Use not only your fingers but also your cheeks, lips, and even your feet — they’re all packed with receptors for fine touch.

Thorough practice using the fingers to make subtle distinctions between objects or textures causes expansion and rewiring of the brain areas involved in touch. This has been observed in monkeys trained to use their fingers to get food and in brain imaging experiments in blind human Braille readers.

  1. Say What?

Wear earplugs when you join the family for breakfast and experience the world without sound. By virtue of deep-rooted routines, your brain has a pretty good idea of what to expect each morning. And, engrossed in a newspaper or listening to the radio, you “tune out” most other sensory inputs.

Blocking a major sensory route by wearing earplugs forces you to use other cues to succeed in accomplishing even simple tasks like knowing when the toast is done or passing the sugar bowl.

  1. Introduce Novelty

I certainly wouldn’t recommend trying all these things on the same morning, but do embody one or two of the following: alternate the order in which you do your usual routine (e.g., get dressed after breakfast); if a bagel and coffee is your daily fare, try something else like hot oatmeal and green tea; change the setting on your radio alarm or tune into a morning TV program you never watch.

  1. Walk the Dog on a New Route

Brain imaging researches show that new, atypical tasks activate large areas of the cortex, suggesting increased levels of brain activity in several distinct areas. This activity declined when the task had become routine and automatic. Much greater brain power is exerted for novel verses automatic tasks.

  1. Luxuriate in the Bath

At the end of the day, when you want to wind down, try something relaxing and vitalizing, such as a warm bath. Use a variety of sensory stimuli — aromatic bath oils and soaps, sponges, loofah, body scrubs, candlelight, champagne or tea, music, plush towels, and moisturizer. Luxuriate in a cavalcade of scents, textures, and lighting to create linkages between old and new associations.

In a stimulating bath, merely by pairing a specific odor and/or music with an enjoyable, relaxing activity, you form a useful stress-relieving association that can be tapped simply by smelling the aroma or hearing the melody again.

  1. Aural Pleasures

Read aloud with your spouse. Alternate the roles of reader and listener. It may be a slow way to get through a book, but it’s a great way to spend wonderful time and gives you something to discuss other than your day at work.

When we read aloud or listen to someone reading, we use very different brain circuits than when we read silently. One of the pioneering demonstrations of brain imaging clearly showed three distinct brain regions lighting up when the same word was read, spoken, or heard.

For example, articulating words activated the motor cortex on both sides of the brain as well as another part of the brain called the cerebellum, while listening to words activated two distinct areas in the left and right hemispheres of the cortex.

  1. Sex: The Ultimate Get Smarter Workout

Novelty — the thrill of the new — plays a central role in sexual arousal. Especially in a long-term relationship, the challenge (and fun) of lovemaking is finding ways to make each time with one’s partner a fresh adventure.

Exploit your creativity and pull out all the sensory stops — put on some instrumental music, wear silk, strew the bed with rose petals, have chilled champagne, burn lavender incense, massage with perfumed oils, and whatever else turns you on.

To believe that a good sexual encounter also helps keep the brain in shape is almost too good to be true. But it is; more than most “routine activities,” sex uses every one of our senses and, undoubtedly, engages our emotional brain circuits as well.


Keep your brainy faculties in tip-top shape by giving yourself plenty of opportunities for mental stimulation; by keeping your mind active you’ll reap great brain-boosting blessings.

“WASTE not life,” wrote Benjamin Franklin, patron saint of American entrepreneurs. “In the grave will be sleeping enough.”

Stan Honda/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


Centuries later, the attitude toward sleep in America — and in American business, in particular — has scarcely changed. Corporate culture reveres the e-mail message sent at 3 a.m., the executive who rushes directly into a meeting from a red-eye flight. Bumper stickers offer an updated version of Franklin ’s dictum: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

“There is a cultural bias against sleep that sees it as akin to shutting down, or even to death,” explains Dr. Jeffrey Ellenbogen, a neurologist at Harvard Medical School and director of the Sleep Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Most people, Dr. Ellenbogen says, think of the sleeping brain as similar to a computer that has “gone to sleep” — it does nothing productive. Wrong. Sleep enhances performance, learning and memory. Most unappreciated of all, sleep improves creative ability to generate aha! moments and to uncover novel connections among seemingly unrelated ideas.

Steven P. Jobs, the chief executive of Apple, once defined creativity as “just connecting things.” Sleep assists the brain in flagging unrelated ideas and memories, forging connections among them that increase the odds that a creative idea or insight will surface.

While traditional stories about sleep and creativity emphasize vivid dreams hastily transcribed upon waking, recent research highlights the importance of letting ideas marinate and percolate.

“Sleep makes a unique contribution,” explains Mark Jung-Beeman, a psychologist at Northwestern University who studies the neural bases of insight and creative cognition.

Some sort of incubation period, in which a person leaves an idea for a while, is crucial to creativity. During the incubation period, sleep may help the brain process a problem.

“When you think you’re not thinking about something, you probably are,” says Dr. Jung-Beeman, who has a doctorate in experimental psychology.

Another theory is that typical approaches to problem-solving may decay or weaken during sleep, enabling the brain to switch to more innovative alternatives. A classic switching story, recounted in “A Popular History of American Invention” in 1924, involves Elias Howe’s invention of the automated sewing machine: after much frustration with his original model, which used a needle with an eye in the middle, Howe dreamed that he was being attacked by painted warriors brandishing spears with holes in the sharp end. He patented a new design based on the dream spears; by the time the patent expired in 1867, he had earned more than $2 million in royalties.

Spear-wielding savages make for compelling stories, but creative insights directly induced by dreams are rare. In general, people are unaware of sleep’s effects on their performance.

Dr. Ellenbogen’s research at Harvard indicates that if an incubation period includes sleep, people are 33 percent more likely to infer connections among distantly related ideas, and yet, as he puts it, these performance enhancements exist “completely beneath the radar screen.”

In other words, people are more creative after sleep, but they don’t know it.

This lack of awareness makes it hard to identify specific aha! insights that have been prompted by sleep.

“It’s more that sleep brings a change of approach,” explains Mark Holmes, an art director at Pixar Animation Studios who worked on the film “Wall-E.” “You can get tunnel vision when you’re hammering away at a problem. You keep going down this same path, again and again, just tweaking, making incremental changes at best. ” He continues: “Sleep erases that. It resets you. You wake up and realize — wait a minute! — there is another way to do this.”

Business attitudes toward sleep may be starting to shift. Claire Stapleton, a spokeswoman for Google, says “grassroots” interest in sleep led to an on-campus talk by Sara C. Mednick a napping expert. Google also installed EnergyPods, leather recliners with egglike hoods that block noise and light, for employees to take naps at work.

Other companies that have installed EnergyPods include Cisco Systems and Procter & Gamble.

Vinayak Sudame, an engineer at the Research Triangle Park campus of Cisco, says he uses an EnergyPod to “shut my eyes and shut myself off for 10 or 15 minutes” when he is working on a problem or needs some quiet time. More than a walk or a coffee break, he says, this type of “total mental rest” helps him return to work with what he calls a “reorganized” perspective.

Alertness Solutions, a sleep consulting company in Cupertino , Calif. , provided consultations and recommendations to a number of United States Olympic teams before the Beijing games and also works with corporate clients. Bob Agostino, vice president of operations at L. J. Aviation, in Latrobe , Pa. , worked with Alertness Solutions at a previous employer and says that employees learned specific strategies to improve performance. These included when and how long to nap, how to determine the amount of sleep one needs, and how to recognize signs of fatigue and symptoms of sleep disorders.

Acting on this knowledge, Mr. Agostino says, “gives you an edge.”

In general, West Coast companies are more concerned about sleep issues than their East Coast counterparts, says Arshad Chowdhury, co-founder and chief executive of MetroNaps, which developed the EnergyPods.

“Particularly in New York , where financial services play such a big role, people are consistently sleep-deprived and consistently in denial,” he says.

Mr. Chowdhury — who says the idea for EnergyPods came to him in a nap — recalls a seminar in which one banker responded to a survey question with a note saying she knew she had no fatigue-related problems at work because the only time she fell asleep was when she sat still. Mr. Chowdhury laughs a bit ruefully: “Maybe we could have avoided the crisis we are in now if these people had just gotten proper sleep.”

Top 10 Conversation Hacks


A whole lot more than just words passes between people who are talking, so a few simple conversational skills can help you recognize what’s really being said and help you lead the discussion your way. Learn how to read body language and facial expressions, de-code euphemisms, ask sensitive questions, criticize constructively, get what you want in negotiations, cut off chatterboxes, and more with our top 10 conversation hacks. Photo by PhillipC.

10. Feign sincerity with eye contact and repetition.

When you’re just not feelin’ it but you’ve got to look like you are, the Wired How-to wiki suggests ways you can feign sincerity. In short, make eye contact, echo what the person is saying to you back to them, and nod in understanding (even if you’re not).

9. End a conversation with body language.

When that chatty co-worker just won’t go away, use some of manager Brendan Connelley’s techniques. My favorite is simply standing up (or crossing your arms, or speeding up to a “fast walk”) to indicate it’s time for that person to go and you’re busy. In more desperate situations, grab your cell phone and say, “oh sorry, I’ve got to take this.” Photo by SiBorg.

8. Ask sensitive questions indirectly to skip awkwardness.

When the info you need from someone is somewhat sensitive, check out journalist advice site MBToolbox’s suggestions for asking delicate questions indirectly. Use the bluff (“the breakup must’ve been hard, huh?”) or blame others (“so has anyone asked about your prison time?”) or the indirect inquiry (“what year did you get divorced?”) to broach sensitive topics with tight-lipped folks with more ease and less awkward silence.

7. Use silence to win arguments and nail a negotiation.

Lawyers and price hagglers know that a little silence can go a long way. When the other party offers a price, opt for a long pause to indicate hesitation, which might prompt them to go lower. In the case of arguments, prolonged silence may frustrate the other person—but it’ll also make you look like the winner. (The evil winner, but the winner nonetheless.)

6. Soften critiques with the sandwich method.

When you need to critique someone—whether it’s a co-worker’s presentation or a spouse’s choice of outfit—start with a compliment, then mention your critique, then end on a positive note. The “criticism hamburger” gets the message across but softens the blow.

5. Say “no” gently—or say “yes, but….”

When someone’s asking you to do something you just don’t want to—or don’t have the time—there are ways to say “no” that are polite and respectful and won’t burn any bridges. offers 20 “scripts” for turning down a request, from “I’m in the middle of several projects right now” to “I’m not the right person for that job.” (I’ve found that suggesting someone else or offering a tip on the best way to proceed also helps a whole lot.) Master of attention-firewalling Merlin Mann says you can partially commit by qualifying your “yes” with specific boundaries around what you’ll do (that also imply what you won’t).

4. Ask questions well.

When you need information, the people that have it need some reason to help you. Whether you’re posting a question on a tech support forum or asking a colleague for help, here are some ways you can master the art of asking to get the answers you need.

3. De-code office jargon.

Client want to “touch base”? Manager want to “get on the same page”? Corporate euphemisms translate into pretty strong words, and you’ll navigate your career a whole lot better if you recognize the ones that mean “get off your ass.” Career adviser Penelope Trunk offers a non-nonsense dictionary for parsing office-speak.

2. “Pace and lead” an irate person.

When you’re dealing with someone who is absolutely freaking out—like a parent flipping out at the playground—use school administrator Bert Webb’s “pace and lead” technique. Instead of remaining calm, match the other party’s emotional intensity to show you’re empathetic, then lead the complainant to a calmer level of discourse.

1. Become a human lie detector.

When you suspect someone isn’t telling the whole truth, tune into their voice, eyes, and body language.’s Marty Nemko lists a few indicators that should trip your BS detector, like a sudden change in voice pitch, rate of speech, or “ums” and “ahs,” a change in eye contact, and body position. Similarly, project manager Scott Berkun weighs in on how to detect bullshit.

Perhaps the greatest human behavior and communication hack is an awareness of what makes people tick. If you can offer someone something they want, they’ll give you what you want in return.
What are your favorite conversational hacks and skills? Ever tried any of these techniques? Tell us about it in the comments.

 Ten Ways to Defeat Brain Drain

 “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” — John Bay

Those of us who are busy all the time can experience burnout, exhaustion, and fatigue from spending long periods of time in focused concentration. I call this syndrome “Brain Drain.” I used to call it “SAT head” because many students report that after taking the SAT tests, they feel an odd mental exhaustion caused by too much focused thinking. Brain drain, if gone unchecked, can result in depression, stress, and even anger if you push after the drain has set in. So even though you need to keep your project going nonstop, you would be much more productive if at the first sign of brain drain, you took a break and did something about it.

Here are some of the signs you might be suffering from brain drain.

  1. Mental exhaustion.
  2. Irritation or drowsiness when thinking about what you have to do.
  3. Putting off certain tasks because they are “too hard to think about.”
  4. Snipping at others who are not moving fast enough.
  5. Feeling as if the harder you work, the farther behind you get.
  6. Feeling depressed, stressed out, or as if you can’t keep up mentally with your task list.

Here are 10 ways you can beat brain drain.

  1. Meditate By meditate, I mean sitting and closing your eyes for 20 minutes or so. Sit still and simply observe the thoughts that come into your mind. Don’t try to solve any problems. Just watch and let go.
  2. Take A Walk A brisk walk outdoors—especially in a park or someplace you are not familiar with will take your mind off your main task so it can relax. Pay attention to the scenes as you travel. Stop and smell the roses, as the cliche goes. Take a minute to see the beauty of panoramas.
  3. Listen to classical music Sitting still with relaxing Mozart or Bach playing through headphones can transcend the brain drain. It will relax you while coaxing your mind to think about other things. (Editor: Here are some free classical music downloads.)
  4. Read something entertaining There is nothing like a chapter of your favorite book to take your mind off the causes of your brain drain. Reading is an interactive action, so you keep your mind active, while relaxing at the same time. Tip: Use reading for 10-20 minutes as a reward for 30 minutes of focused work. Use an egg timer to keep track.
  5. Reboot your brain with a caffeine nap. University studies show that drinking a cup of coffee and then immediately taking a 10-15 minute catnap gives you an energy boost. This is called a caffeine nap. I’ve found it works equally well for brain drain. (Just make sure you have something to do when you wake up, because you are going to be ready to rock and roll.)
  6. Go to a movie. If you can fit in a two hour movie, at the theater, it is worth the time and money just so you can get away mentally and physically. Sitting in front of the big screen is a great way to take your mind off everything.
  7. Listen to motivational CDs This is a tip I picked up from Steve Pavlina. When he’s tired from intense thinking, he pops in a motivational CD. Although it might seem like this would be more work, it isn’t. By listening, you can relax, and become almost passive, as the ideas and strategies gradually break the drain.
  8. Play a sport Studies show that people who do a competitive sport such as tennis, basketball, golf, martial arts, or football are happier overall. To compete in the sport may make you tired physically, but will wake you up mentally. When you wake up mentally, brain drain stops being as big a problem.
  9. Break down your project into bite-sized chunks Rome wasn’t built in a day. Maybe you are trying to move your mountain in a day too. Take a half hour or an hour to take a close look at your projects. Are you trying to write a novel in one day, when it would be more practical to shoot for three pages of a novel a day? You might be in brain drain because you simply don’t have sensible objectives.
  10. Play a game Halo 3 players rejoice! Playing a game that gets you away from your draining thoughts is an excellent way to get past the sluggishness. You might prefer crossword puzzles or sudokus if you don’t like video games. Either way, playing a game lets you know life doesn’t always have to be so serious and focused. Make time for play too!

Remember, the good news is brain drain means you are using your brain at maximum capacity. The bad news is you are not giving your brain needed periods of rest. Rest is important for creative thinking and problem solving. Thus a series of short breaks between your work is necessary for you to work at a high level. So in planning your next intense project, be sure to scatter in several scheduled periods where you can take a break and give your brain some time to incubate.

Tapping Your Superconscious: 1-Second Nap Your Way to Powerful Solutions

Imagine you have a problem that you just can’t solve. You spend all of your waking hours thinking about it. You ask the advice of friends and advisers. But still you just don’t know.


Now picture yourself so exhausted from worry and stress, you sit down in a chair and doze off only to be awakened 1-second later by the phone ringing. You don’t answer the phone because during that one second, you had an incredible dream. In the dream, you saw the perfect solution to your problem. You feel excited and you begin effortlessly putting your solution into action and before you know it, you’re done.

Sounds fantastic doesn’t it? If you could get a 1-second to a perfect solution to your problem? That is one of the advantages of this method and I am going to show you how you can take a split second nap for a direct route to your superconscious.


Now before you start thinking I’ve gone off the deep end and am entering some mystic mumbo jumbo, hear me out. I’m not the only one who has used this little-known method. Thomas A. Edison, inventor of the lightbulb is the first person I read about who made 1-second napping a science. His method would take him from daydreaming to 1-second ‘twilight dreaming” and wake up in the state of mind to do something with the solutions presented.

Here is his method: What he would do is he would sit back in a comfortable chair or lie down on a couch and prop his hand in the air with his elbow resting next to him. In his hand he’d have a fist full of ball bearings. As he sat there daydreaming, he’d gradually drift off to sleep. As soon as sleep took over, his hand would relax, releasing the ball bearings onto the wood floor, immediately awakening him. This would obviously leave him with a nap lasting less than a second.

He would immediately write down the dreams and solutions he’d get during these split second naps. Many of these dream solutions were perfect fixes to the problem at hand or the next step to take while making a new invention.

The author of Treasure Island , Robert Louis Stevenson, got the idea for one of his most famous works during an abrupt awakening. “In the small hours one morning,” says his wife, “I was awakened by cries of horror from Louis. Thinking he had a nightmare I awakened him. He said angrily, ‘Why did you wake me? I was dreaming a fine bogey tale.’” The dream was so vivid that he could not rest until he had written off the story, and it so possessed him that the first draft was finished within three days. It was called “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”(The Life of Robert Louis Stevenson for Boys and Girls by Jacqueline M. Overton, 1933)

Perhaps Stevenson hadn’t had a split second nap, but it’s still noteworthy that he was woken up middream with a perfect idea. His idea has stood the test of time and lasted for generations.

You may have noticed, one important benefit of the solutions gained by 1-second naps result in vast motivation as well.

Personally, at age 25, one of my first 1-second nap sessions resulted in the concept for a suspense novel in its entirety from cover to cover. The novel consumed my daily thoughts as I simply transcribed my dream novel at the pace of 3 pages a day for the better part of a year. (In case you’re wondering. It hasn’t been published yet. I send it out as time allows – so if you know someone in the psychological suspense publishing world, let me know.)

Warning: I should mention that you should never take your superconscious inspiration for granted. Like the story The Boy Who Cried Wolf, if you don’t take action on your superconscious revelations, they will occur with less and less frequency. Inspiration is a personal gift. Your inspirations make you unique. To not act on them is to waste untold potential.

It may be fun to be entertained with our superconscious inspirations but lack of action makes us like the young nephew who squanders his rich uncle’s inheritance on fast cars and women. So don’t ask for inspiration if you won’t follow through.

3 Dream Hacks to Improve Vividness And Recall

Some say dreaming has become a lost art in our modern world. The fascination and religious fervor associated with fantasy and mythology of ancient cultures is lost to our technological society. But who says science and technology can’t teach us how to re-tap into this bottomless pool of creativity?

While dreaming can occur in all stages of sleep, it’s REM sleep that tends to produce the most colorful and memorable dreams. REM occurs in higher propensity in the morning hours, or during the last half of sleep. By understanding REM sleep we can find ways to maximize its duration and intensity.

So here are 3 “dream hacks” to maximize REM sleep, thus improving dream vividness and recall.

Suppress REM for a Rebound

Your brain holds REM in very high regard (though not quite as high as slow-wave sleep). So when you suppress REM sleep for one night, your brain will give you a double dosage the next night to compensate.

There are many ways to suppress REM — alcohol, marijuana and anti-depressants are all known to knock out REM. But if drugs aren’t your thing, simply waking up a couple hours before your natural wake-up time will rob you of REM, meaning next time you go to bed REM intensity will increase, making dreams longer and more vivid.

In general, a 30 minute decrease in REM one night will lead to a 35% increase in REM length the next. Studies have also suggested that REM rebound dreams are subjectively much more intense and vivid.

REM rebound might not be the most sustainable — or recommended — dream hack at your disposal, but it does work.

Take 5-HTP

5-HTP is a popular supplement among avid lucid dreamers, used to promote more vivid dreams.

5-HTP is the immediate precursor to serotonin. Serotonin levels in the brain promote deep sleep. At a 100mg dose, 5-HTP is out of the system within 5-6 hours. So during the last couple hours of sleep your brain will go into REM rebound. This is why many people report “wild” and “crazy” dreams while taking 5-HTP — it promotes deep sleep in the first half of the night so that REM in the second half is more intense.

Do research on the possible side-effects, including “Seratonin Syndrom” before popping a 5-HTP supplement. For healthy people not taking anti-depressants, a 100-150mg dose before bedtime most likely will not induce side-effects.

Take Galantamine

Galantamine can cause extremely vivid and long dreams, making it probably the most popular supplement for lucid dreamers. My first galantamine dream was radiantly colorful, alive, and animated — perhaps the most memorable dream I’ve ever had. Galantamine works by inhibiting the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain. Whereas high serotonin levels promote deep sleep, it’s high acetylcholine levels that promote REM sleep (to use a simplified neurotransmitter explanation of sleep stages). Galantamine keeps acetylcholine levels up, making REM longer and more intense.

To improve dream vividness, galantamine must be taken half-way through the night. One method is to wake up after 4-5 hours of deep sleep, take 8mg or less of galantamine, then fall back asleep and let the dreams commence.

Do research before taking galantamine. You shouldn’t use it on consecutive nights, and you shouldn’t take it before a full night of sleep since it will suppress deep sleep in the first half.

Dream Recall

How to Hack Your Dreams

Would you like to have dream recall of what goes on while you sleep.

Almost anyone can learn how to hack their dreams or put another way, have total recall of the thoughts in their sleep by doing just one thing.

If you want to use your sleeping brain to problem solve, there are six additional steps you will need to take.

The additional steps allow the brain to create neural pathways that will be required to learn and maintain the ability.

Seven Steps to Hack into Tonight’s Dreams

1) Get a thermal insulated mug and fill with ice and enough water for a drink. Unless you have a medical contraindication, upon going to bed and once ready for sleep, take a drink of the ice water. Place a lid over the remaining ice to preserve it as best as possible. In the morning upon waking up, take a drink of the ice cold water. You will have an instant and total recall of the thoughts in your sleep from the night before.

It will flood your mind in crystal clarity. Be fore warned, for many the memory will start to fade within 20 seconds of completion of the recall. This is the working length of time of our short term memory.

You will need to wake naturally. It works best if you gently get up to drink the water. No sudden movements.

2) Keep a journal or diary and write down what your recalled memories. For some, they may fade away as fast as they come back. Make this a routine. Keep a pencil and paper at the bedside. Better yet, keep a tape recorder. Record them as soon as remembered.

3) Discuss them with others. This reinforces the consciousness or awareness of these thoughts. It also creates a neural pathway to reinforce future recall.
4) Talk to yourself. Before going to sleep, have an internal conversation about your desire for total recall. Talk about your desire to pay careful attention and that you want to recall from your sleeping brain in the morning. Do this just before dozing off.

5) When you awake naturally, don’t get up or sit up. Review those thoughts with your eyes still closed. Then slowly reach for your pen and paper and record your memories.

6) Validate the value of having the right brain deliver up the memory. Give an acknowledgment for getting them in vivid color, full recall of the action, and details.

7) Find a partner to discuss these pillow thoughts with. The goal is to have two different people to discuss your thoughts with during the day.

These newly created neural pathways need to be used a few times to improve the chance of future recall. There are numerous books on the subject if you would like to read further.

Sweet Dreams Recall

Just a Thought on Using the Mind

One mans inspiration is another mans little gray box preforming problem solving algorithms until a subconscious solution is found and then downloading it to their conscious mind.

Well, at least that is how I like to think some of my artwork creations have come to be.

What if you could solve problem while your asleep. What if you could control the disquieting thoughts. It is possible by learning how to manage our mind.

Five Mind Hacks To Save More And Spend Less

In uncertain economic times, we all want to be in the most prepared position possible.  Today is not too late to start improving your financial future.  Even if you have to trick yourself into doing it.  For the 1000th published post on I’ve Paid For This Twice Already… , I’m sharing my favorite five mental money hacks all in one place.

  1. Every time you spend money frivolously, put the same amount towards your financial goal.  Be it paying down debt, building an emergency fund or other savings, investing for the future – whatever it is, make it as important as those purchases you just “have to have”.
  2.  Make it a habit.  Move money every day at the same time.  Maybe only a dollar.  But for thirty days, every day move money from checking to savings, or to whatever the financial goal.
  3. Write it down.  Writing has power.  What is it you’re looking for?  What do you want to accomplish?  Make it concrete and put it in writing.
  4. Paint yourself a picture.  Maybe you’re a visual person.  Put a picture of your goal somewhere you can see it every day.  Maybe it’s a zero debt balance.  Maybe it is a spectacular retirement home.  Maybe just a wad of cash.  Whatever it is, picture it.
  5. Share your story with someone else.  Talking about what you want and how to get there makes it real.  Thinking through how to share it with others makes it a part of your life.

Managing Multiple Freelance Gigs With Mind Maps

If you’ve been freelancing for a while, you probably already know that you often have to juggle several projects at a time. That’s not to say that you necessarily have to multi-task, but simply need to manage overlapping task schedules. The more successful your freelance career is, the more likely it is that you’ll have to manage multiple tasks simulaneously. They might be part of a single big project or parts of several smaller projects.

 While you might consider learning some PM (Project Management) principles, in my experience, those are more suited to managing tasks of large corporate projects. While a PM approach can help freelancers, I’ve recently found a relatively simply way to predict and track my freelance workload, regardless of the number of clients I’m currently working with. The process uses a mind map to form a work grid, which can be used in tandem with a spreadsheet to track billables. The result is a relatively simple visual way to manage your freelance projects, which beats using just a spreadsheet.


Here are some notes to keep in mind when considering the process in this article:

  1. The example used in this article uses freelance writing tasks, but the process can be applied to any type of freelance work.
  2. The example uses MindJet MindManager Pro. You can get a free, fully functioning trial for Mac (21 days) or Windows (30 days). The reason I’ve used MindManager is that it has a horizontally-oriented “org chart” mode that makes setting up a task grid a lot simpler. If you prefer to use something else, you can approach this from a less-visually appealing vertical mode using any other mind mapping software (FreeMind – multi-platform – or the web-based Mindomo, Mindmeister, or Comapping applications). Note that some of the web-based apps have trial periods for advanced features.
  3. If you do not want to use mind mapping software, you could either draw out your work grid or use a diagramming tool (MS Visio, SmartDraw, Gliffy).

The basic rule of thumb is to use whatever tool you feel most comfortable with.

The Process


Work Grid Setup
The general setup process is to produce a grid of days versus tasks. Using MindJet MindManager’s “organization chart” mode, I’ve produced the example mind map above. Here are the basic steps I applied:

  1. Produce a row of “day” nodes.
  2. Use node color and shape to distinguish “day” from “task” nodes. I’ve used a hexagon shape and a blue background to mark days. For tasks, I’ve used a “rounded rectangle” but different colors indicate the “value” of the task. Not all mind mapping packages offer this, but most offer a choice of node colors.
  3. For each day, add a list of tasks that you hope to accomplish. Don’t worry about the order just yet. Make your task nodes distinct by “value. In my example:
    • Green is a billable task.
    • Orange is a task that leads up to billable work. E.g., scope or plan for a project.
    • Salmon pink is research leading to another type of task.
  4. For any project that cannot be completed in a single day, break it down into related tasks and assign one or more tasks to various days. (I usually mark only the final sub-task as being billable, because that includes delivery to the client.)
  5. Give each task and project a short code, to keep the grid compact. Codes might repeat across the grid.
  6. For a task that is actually billable, write the value in brackets. You can see in a zoomed in snapshot further down this article that I’ve only written in values for green task nodes. But for a given project, I might use 2-3 other task colors to indicate scoping, research or editing tasks. These tasks lead to billable activity but are not in themselves billable. How you break this up is entirely up to you. Small projects that can be completed all in one work session do not need to be broken down into multi-day tasks.
  7. Use a spreadsheet to total up each day’s billables, based on your initial breakdown. MindJet allows insertion of their own spreadsheets or a “window” to an Excel spreadsheet, so that’s what I’ve used in this example (see somewhere below). You could also use Open Office or Google Spreadsheets.

This grid view allows you to easily adjust your schedule so that you’re not slacking one day and sweating the next. Remember to adjust your billables spreadsheet accordingly.

Here is another view, below, of the same work grid, with some of the mind map lines removed, and manually-added relationship lines (dotted) between groups of related tasks. (This makes moving items around much easier to track.)


Work Grid Usage
At the start of your work day, try to estimate how much time it’ll take you to complete scheduled tasks. Even if you don’t think you’ll make them all, leave the tasks where they are.

Assess your work at the end of day:

  1. Check off completed items. I prefer not to delete older tasks, so I simply hide them under a collapsed “day” node. It’s easier to track work this way, without having clutter.
  2. Consider your work grid to be organic. If an item was not completed, move it the next appropriate day. If it’s a chain of related tasks, you’ll have to adjust the subsequent ones as necessary.
  3. Adjust your billables spreadsheet to reflect the actual work you completed today and the estimated work for the future. I usually try to map out no more than 2-3 weeks at a time. As I complete a week and hide the work log nodes, I add another week.

Here is a closeup snapshot of a sample freelance work grid, complete with MindManager native spreadsheet fragment. I’ve used the value of $1 per billable task (in green) for the example.


Final Thoughts

This is merely a suggested method of managing your freelance projects using mind maps. I find that this mind mapped approach to be far more flexible than my old method of using just a spreadsheet and trying to predict what work I would complete. It was also harder to see what work had to be done on a given day and what work could slide a bit. This mind mapped-grid is far more robust.

This approach also makes it easier to gauge your productivity and progress. Just remember to adjust the task grid and billables spreadsheet as you complete each day. Did you slack off today? Easier to see that you need to work harder, when it’s right there in front of your face that you only

Mind Hack – How to do More Stuff in Less Time

Okay, here’s a fun mind hack for all of you working in a cubicle, home, or whereever.

It’s a mind exercise that can possibly help you do more stuff in less time.

Now let me begin by saying that I used to work from 6am to 12am in Korea when I used to work at Comfile. (That’s 6am until midnight, 18 hours of work)

I am very very familiar with working overtime at a cubicle, especially because I had the chance to work with fellow Korean people couple years ago, they work really freakin’ long hours.  (with no efficiency whatsoever though)

As a hard working person I am, I have realized more and more that you can actually accomplish more stuff if you simply give yourself less time to do it.


Well, your mind works like this.

If you are given 2 hours to do a project, whether that’s writing a presentation in 2 hours or whatever, your mind will work as fast as 2 hours.

Now, simply give yourself 1 hour to do the project, you will HAVE to find shortcuts and more efficient ways to do that same project.

It’s sorta like driving.  There’s a lot of people who drive kinda stupid, stepping on the gas and then brake even when there’s traffic.  All you had to do was less, gently press on the gas enough to let the car naturally stop.  The thing you should have been focusing is the big picture, which lane is moving the fastest, not what’s in front of you.

Less is more.

How to Apply this concept at your Workplace


Everyday, start going home 5 minutes earlier.  So if you get off work at 5PM, start “forcing” yourself to get off work at 4:45PM.  (The next day, 4:40PM, the next day: 4:30PM, etc…etc…)

If your boss starts complaining, just keep making excuses such as (”I got a date”) or whatever.  It’s a freakin’ job for godsakes, it ain’t your life.  Eventually, even your boss will see that you leave after finishing your job faster than everyone else, and give you a raise.

Once you start forcing yourself to do more stuff in less time, your mind will slowly adjust accordingly.

Eventually, you will be able to get off work at 2 or 3PM and get the same of amount of work done.

Let me ask you, how many times have you sat in your office chair IMing someone or simply wasting a lot of time?

Probably 2-3 hours to say the least, that’s where you lose efficiency.

By making your mind to do more stuff in less time, you will also have more time for yourself, to do other recreational activities such as golf or spend the late afternoon with your kids.

This might not work though if you have a manual-labor job such as data-entry or UPS man for example.

But if you work in a job where it requires a lot of intelligence and mind, (such as programming, management, etc…etc…) you will be able to solve problems in less time.

As for me, I have somehow learned this mind hack while programming.

There are night where I moonlight and stay up all night trying to figure out a bug in my code.

Now, some nights, as soon as I find a bug, I actually stop working right there and then, go relax and sleep.

The next day, I figure out the problem in just 5 minutes with a fresh, morning mind.  A lot of programming stuff happen in your mind.  Your mind can think for you subconsciously when you are asleep.






















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