When Quora users wondered how best to increase their mental capacity and further their intellectual goals, science teacher Lanie Bakeberg offered up her nine quick tips to become a smarter person.
Stimulate Your Brain—try classic puzzles like crosswords or Sudoku to help keep your brain in shape and in problem solving mode. For those who like to mix it up, there are tons of aps focused on exercising your brain. Lumosity or Fit Brains Trainer both provide many different types of puzzles that challenge your brain AND are fun.
Listen—this seems like an easy one, but actually listening to experienced colleagues or friends can help you in the long run. You don’t even have to listen in person. You can buy an audio book and listen to it while you exercise or drive.
Read—reading is very important to not only gain new information, but it also helps your vocabulary and grammar inadvertently. While reading, make sure to look up words you don’t know and re-read anything that doesn’t make sense the first time. Your goal shouldn’t be to finish the book as soon as possible. It should be to learn as much as possible.
On the reading note, pick books that appeal to your curiosity, but could help you in your ventures. If you always read fantasy books or fiction, then you are not learning information to apply to your everyday life. Try a nonfiction book. Maybe even a business book written by someone you look up to.
Stay Hydrated—studies at the University of East London and the University of Westminster in the UK showed that without water, our brains react up to 14% slower. Our bodies are made of up 50–75% water. When we are dehydrated, our brains have to work harder to produce the same results. Get yourself a water bottle with measurements on the side and actually keep track of how much water you are drinking per day. Keep in mind, the 8 by 8 rule does not apply to everyone (eight 8oz glasses of water per day). I found the Camel Bak Hydration Calculator to be very helpful. Click here to try it out: How much water should you drink?
Take Online Courses—the internet is overrun by online courses. Anything you want to learn, there is some sort of course out there for you. Interested in photography? Pick which type of photography and sift through the thousands of FREE courses out there.
If you don’t mind spending some money to develop your understanding, check out Udemy Online Courses - Learn Anything, On Your Schedule for a huge selection. Some courses are offered at discounted rates on Groupon as well.
Ask Questions—I know that asking questions can sometimes feel scary. Any time you put yourself out there openly expressing that you don’t understand something, you feel vulnerable. That vulnerability is a good thing though. You need that in order to actually open up and absorb knowledge.
When asking questions, be specific. If you ask vague questions, then you will get vague responses.
Exercise—exercise does not just help your blood pressure, reduce your chances of heart disease or stroke, and boost confidence, but as shared by Harvard Medical School, “exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills.” Finding time to exercise is challenging, but it is necessary. Go for a walk around the block. Join a gym. Take the stairs. Whatever you choose, get that heart beating.
Reflect—reflecting does not need to happen only after a large extravagant project. Reflecting should happen often. You can reflect about your day while laying in bed at night. Think about what you did. Think about how it went. Think about what could have been better. Think about what you will do next time. Think about how your actions contributed to your goals. With your reflections, be honest and hold yourself accountable.
Don’t Procrastinate—everyone knows that feeling when they have a giant to do list, but that couch is just calling your name. When trying to become smarter or better yourself in any way, that inner struggle needs to be won with the to do list. Procrastination wastes time. If you procrastinate, then you won’t have time to do puzzles, read, take online courses, or any of the other hints listed above. Remember time is precious. Don’t waste it.