Are you interested in becoming an entrepreneur or starting a small business?
Do you want to make a difference in the world and create something of value?
To increase your likelihood of success, you need to be performing at your best!
This requires paying attention to, and addressing, all of the aspects in your life that impact your cognitive performance.
Sounds like a lot of work? Well don’t worry, we did our research and found the most important areas you need to focus on.
This article will give you the 5 best tips, based on scientific findings, to achieving your best possible cognitive performance and give you that extra edge!
So how can you get your brain performing at its best?
Read on to find out!
Don’t want to scroll? Just click on a heading below and be taken straight to that tip
1. The Basics
First things first, let’s get the basics right to unlock your ultimate level of natural energy, concentration, memory, and creativity.
We all live busy lives, and it can be easy to overlook our basic need for sleep, food, and exercise!
Ever heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Well, this framework for explaining our motivations suggests we need to satisfy these basic physiological needs before we can move on to better things.
Simply getting your 7-9 hours of sleep will improve performance.
Try to build a regular sleep schedule. Start going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
This will train your body to know when it’s time to sleep, because we all know how frustrating it is staring at the ceiling all night.
Other easy hacks to getting a better night sleep include:
- Only going to bed when you’re tired
- Avoiding caffeine and nicotine before bed
- Having a hot bath 1-2 hours before sleeping
- Creating your own bedtime rituals (i.e., relaxation exercises, reading a book under dim light, or sitting calmly with caffeine free tea)
There are also a few apps out there that will help you get a good night’s sleep.
- The Headspace App is a great place to learn more on meditation, which will help clear your mind before you go to bed
- Rain Rain App has lots of different nature sounds that will help relax your brain
Try them out to see if you get a better nights sleep.
Next, you need to watch what you’re eating!
Remember when mum kept bugging you to eat healthy? Well, it turns out she was right!
Eating complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potato, brown rice, and oatmeal, will keep you full of energy for longer; fruit will give you an energy boost with its natural sugar; and green and orange vegetables will get you those essential vitamins and minerals.
You should also aim to drink 2 litres of water everyday to stay alert and hydrated.
A quick tip is to keep a water bottle with you at all times to keep that thirst quenched.
Also, eating breakfast is the most important meal of the day for energy, so don’t miss it!
We all know how easy it is to skip breakfast when you’re in a rush.
However, if you want to start the day off right, make sure to set aside some time to have a healthy breakfast.
Finally, studies have shown that exercise helps improve motivation, focus, and mood!
If you want to get technical, it specifically increases your brain’s serotonin levels.
Getting physical doesn’t have to be a chore. Simple activities like walking, swimming, strength training, yoga, and tai chi can all be beneficial.
Just spending 75-150 minutes a week doing some form of exercise is a great start!
That’s only a little more than 10-20 minutes a day! Not so bad huh!
2. A Healthy State of Mind and Staying Positive
Maintaining a healthy state of mind is just as important as maintaining a healthy body!
The two are inseparable when it comes to achieving success.
Luckily, there are a variety of techniques you can use to keep your state of mind healthy, and it’s important to consider them all!
Believe it or not but something as simple as having a positive attitude and confidence is vital.
Just having the right body language can go a long way to achieving this. Even forcing a smile, doing some deep breathing, and standing upright can give you a more positive attitude.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a great example of this. The main premise is that if you think positive you feel positive, which leads to more effective behaviour.
Similarly, Positive Psychology Therapy suggests that having good self esteem and confidence leads to greater achievement and increased performance.
Achieving a balanced lifestyle is an important means of self care, and without it you’re more likely to face exhaustion. Not to mention less motivation and enjoyment!
It involves prioritising time for different areas of your life such as work/study, friends/family, hobbies, and down time/relaxation. Try to put time aside for the things you enjoy!
Stress is a given in life, something we can’t control! That being said, we do have a choice in how we respond to stress. First you need to be able to identify what the stress is; how’s it impacting you; what’s not helping vs. what is; and how you can build on the positives and reduce the negatives.
Check out the image below from “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. It shows how being proactive towards stress is just component of being a highly effective person.
Being proactive towards stress may require you to make a few changes, including who you’re associated with, your current environment, and even how you structure your life.
Doing this can take a lot of time and requires reflective thinking, patience, and perseverance. Keep this in mind when you encounter stress, and know that small improvements will ultimately lead to bigger wins.
However, what if the situation is out of your control? In these cases, you’ll need a different approach:
- Step back from the situation
- Accept what you can’t control
- Identify your concerns
- Engage in problem solving
- Develop a plan to manage your stress
- Focus on the positives
You might need to come up with your own stress management plan to help you overcome your problem.
Stress management plans can include:
- Taking time for yourself
- Breathing exercises
- Keeping a journal of your thoughts and feelings
Check out this stress management plan from Fostering Resilience for a good place to start developing your very own.
Can you think of another highly effective, scientific based technique, that in addition to reducing stress, also helps to improve productivity, sleep quality, concentration, and emotion regulation?
There are plenty more resources available through Google, YouTube, and apps regarding mindfulness meditation!
Maybe your stressed about where to find the money to fund your next startup. Check out our blog on the 5 best Australian startup Grants or our how to guide on getting investors for your start up so you can stress less.
3. Building Your Support Network
There’s one thing most successful people have in common…
They all have a team of supporters!
Entrepreneurs can often think that they need to be the one to do everything. Don’t fall into this trap!
To maximise your potential for achieving those hard to reach goals, you’ll need to build your very own team.
Building your support team of family, friends, co-workers, and experts will only increase your chances of success.
When times are tough, just having someone to talk to can be everything.
Embrace the idea of support, build your team, and strive for success.
4. Expanding Your Creativity
Ever feel like your brain is hitting a brick wall when trying to form new ideas or solutions to a problem?
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can break down those walls.
Try writing down what’s working and what isn’t. This might help you see your problem in a different light.
However, sometimes the best thing you can do is stop! Take a break, focus on something else, or even go for a walk. Taking your mind off the problem can help lead you to that light bulb moment.
And if you’re feeling a little more open-minded, listening to music designed to enhance brain waves can improve your concentration.
But what if you just don’t know the answer?
Maybe what you need is some old-fashioned research.
An entrepreneurs success is often related to how well they know their industry.
Luckily we live in the technology age, with so many different ways we can learn new things. Read a book, check out a podcast, download an app, watch a video, or attend a course.
There are thousands of methods you can use to find new information.
The best hack I can offer you here is to use a number of these platforms for the same topic. The human brain is a powerful thing, but it works best when you give it a few different channels it can draw information from.
Maybe check out our other blogs to see if we can help you with anything else.
It’s also just as important to include things that get you motivated in your weekly routine.
This will help keep energy levels high and creative juices flowing. Catch up with friends, attend events, or even listen to music. Anything that gets you excited.
On a final note, through the use of Neuroplasticity, we have the ability to promote growth and development of neurons in our brains, by practicing specific tasks.
This is otherwise known as “Brain training”. Check out Cognitive Training Data to learn more.
5. Achieving discipline and structure
The last thing you’ll need to focus on for achieving success is improving those executive functioning skills of yours!
These skills include self regulation, short term memory, flexible thinking, attention, and organisation. All of which are important in your ability to generate and implement successful plans.
Number of employees, growth, and sales outcomes are also important in having effective plans.
To generate any plan, you’ll need to take a first step. A useful first step can involve brainstorming. Start by identifying the tasks required to implement the plan, allocating these to individuals or teams, determining if you have enough resources, and working out how long this plan will take to complete.
No longer will your ideas be left to gather dust. Taking these initial steps will make your plans clearer and easier to implement.
From here you can then setup how you would like to monitor these first steps.
It’s always a good idea to have a target to hit so your plans aren’t just treading water. A good framework to use for forming your goals is the SMART goal framework!
This framework means your goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. They need to be clear-cut, able to be measured, realistically achievable, applicable to you, and have a reasonable time-frame.
Using this with all your goals will only make them easier to achieve and manage.
Time management is also a crucial skill to acquire! It increases productivity, direction, focus, and lets potential investors know you’re a stable and effective business.
Another important point you’ll need to remember is that distractions are everywhere! They can come from phones, people, noise, emails, lack of motivation or focus, and even disrupting thoughts.
We all get distracted at times, and its important to identify these distractors and put strategies in place to deal with them before they derail your productivity.
Some suggestions on managing distractions could include:
- Turning your phone/email on silent for a set amount of time;
- Working in a different setting;
- Listening to music to block out noise;
- Trying a relaxation activity prior to starting your work (just spending a couple of minutes doing this can help redirect your mind and body, disconnecting them from recent thoughts and tasks).
Need some help managing your time better? Check out the Pomodoro Technique. This technique breaks up your work into short intervals, typically 25 minutes, with short breaks at the end of each interval. Using this technique will help keep your focus on work whilst avoiding that burn out feeling from working on something for too long.
Finally, you’ll want to regularly review any planning, structure, goals, and overall management of your work practice you have in place. This is essential for keeping up what’s working for you and changing anything that isn’t.
Wow, we’ve just gone through a lot of information together. Great work sticking to the end!
So what are the key points to take away from this blog on improving cognitive performance:
- The Basics: Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, food, and exercise
- Healthy Mind and Positivity: Maintain a balanced life and proactively deal with stress
- Getting Support: Surround yourself with the right support team
- Expanding Creativity: Include multiple tactics in your problem-solving toolkit
- Discipline and Structure: Brainstorm your plans, keep your goals SMART, and be proactive with your distractions
Hopefully, this blog helps you accomplish more.
Let us know down in the comments what you do to improve your cognitive performance.
P.S. Want to learn more?!
Check out our other blogs
Maybe you’re thinking of starting a startup.
Or you want to be a better leader.
Do you want to know what makes a successful entrepreneur?
And maybe one of our apps could help.
Check them out today to be ready for tomorrow!