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The 5 Best Tips to Improve Your Cognitive Performance

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

Exercise is an important part of improving your cognitive performance. Try to make sure you are getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

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.

From Simply Psychology’s article on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

From Simply Psychology’s article on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

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

Having a positive attitude and confidence is vital

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.

Both of these strategies will help increase your output and get the most out of your abilities. To learn more, check out these links for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Positive Psychology Therapy.

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.

From The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

From The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

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?

Mindfulness meditation!

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

Embrace the idea of support and surround yourself with the right people

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

Include multiple tactics in your problem solving toolkit

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

Brainstorm your plans, keep your goals SMART, and be proactive with your distractions

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.

Check out our blogs on improving your productivity and the best productivity app for entrepreneurs to get some extra hacks.

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.

Final Thoughts

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

The 5 Best Tips For Improving Your Cognitive Performance. Launchpad App Development. The Basics: Get 7 - 9 Hours of Quality Sleep, Eat Healthy & Drink Water, Do 75 - 150 Minutes of Exercise Every Week. Healthy Mind & Positivity: Keep a Positive Attitude, Maintain a Balanced Life, Proactively Deal With Stress. Getting Support: Build the Right Support Team, Surround Yourself with Friends, Family, Co-Workers & Experts. Expanding Creativity: Step Away From Your Problem, Research Your Problem, Do Things That Get You Motivated. Discipline & Structure: Layout Your Plans, Set SMART Goals, 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.

Good luck!

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!

The 7 Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

We all have habits. Some are good, like positive thinking and healthy eating, while some are bad, like procrastinating and overspending. Habits are basically routines or activities we do continuously without realising it. They have an impact on our daily lives including how we work. Good habits have helped create success for Entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg or Richard Branson. Today we’ll be going through the 7 habits of successful entrepreneurs that you can adopt.

Related: The Top 6 Traits of Game-Changing Entrepreneurs

Habit 1. Get up and active

While work is important, it is also important to get away from your desk. There are many benefits to exercise that can help you work efficiently. It improves your brain, making  you more creative and stimulates your thinking.

Exercising doesn’t require much time or money and a gym membership isn’t required. You can just go outside for walk or jog in a park.

Lots of successful entrepreneurs do it and if you don’t have time, make time in the early morning or evening for it. For example, Richard Branson wakes up at 5 AM and either kite surfs, swims or plays tennis.

Habit 2: Set Goals

Successful entrepreneurs set short and longer term goals for themselves and also for their business. Examples include getting investors and reaching a certain amount of sales per year. Additionally, they set up effective goals that are SMART (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely).

Entrepreneurs stick and keep their goals in mind while at work. This helps them prioritise and focus on tasks that are most important.

Before doing anything they ask themselves whether the task will achieve their main goals. To not get overwhelmed by their goals, entrepreneurs further break it down to small tasks. There’s lots of software, such as Trello and Asana, to help achieve this.

Habit 3: Plan and organise

Following on, successful entrepreneurs are continually involved with daily and long term planning, whether in the office or on the road.

They create to-do lists and daily schedules to ensure they get all their tasks done.  Planning creates a strategy on how entrepreneurs tackle their week. It makes them think before they start doing any executions.

There is an endless list of productivity apps and software available that can help with planning, such as Evernote. Successful entrepreneurs also do pre-planning at the end of their day to prepare for tomorrow.

Effective planning helps keep entrepreneurs on track towards achieving their long term goals. As the saying goes: failing to plan is planning to fail.

Habit 4: Take risks

Successful entrepreneurs are not afraid risks when running their business. These risks might involve factors with the market, personal or even financial risk.

In fact, one of the first risks they took were resigning from their current job and creating a startup. For example, Steve Jobs and Steve Woz dropped out of college to start Apple and Elon Musk invested in two startups that nearly went bankrupt but ultimately succeeded.

While risk involves gut feeling and just doing it, calculated risk involves weighing up the pros and cons before execution. There are many benefits of risk-taking. For instance, gaining experience, finding out what doesn’t work and you’ll won’t live with regret.

Whether it’s launching a new product or the financial market, you have to risk it to get the rewards.

Habit 5: Continuously learn

Successful entrepreneurs are always learning and expanding their knowledge. They learn through activities like reading books, attending seminars and networking with others. For instance, Bill Gates is a big reader, reading about 50 books a year.

The benefits of continually learning is that you get new perspectives, knowledge and enhances creativity. There are lots of free and paid resources out there that can boost your brain.

If you like reading, books I highly recommend the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey and Thankyou’s biography: Chapter 1 (Definitely for new startups) by Daniel Flynn.

For online videos, TED talks are the way to go. Podcasts by big name entrepreneurs, like Gary Vaynerchuk are also great if always you’re on the go.

Habit 6: Enjoy what they do

Successful entrepreneurs don’t just work for the money, they love doing what they’re doing.

There are different reasons why entrepreneurs create their own startup. Some might enjoy being their own boss or the personal challenge of starting their business.

For others, it might be to make a positive impact, such as Thank you’s founder, Daniel Flynn, or follow their passions, such as Showpo founder, Jane Lu.  

Successful entrepreneurs love it so much that they become emotionally attached to it. They put everything into their startup, even giving up their free time to make sure it succeeds and strives.

Habit 7: Bounce back

While facing roadblocks and the potential of failing in our lives, it’s what we do that matters. Successful entrepreneurs are persistent and will rise above any obstacles.

They view their failure as a learning experience and the opportunity to improve. In fact, there have been lots of successful entrepreneurs who have used failure to turn their business around.

A well known example is Walt Disney. He was told that he wasn’t creative and his early ventures failed. His cartoon creations got stolen and rejected. However, he persevered and became successful with Walt Disney Company.

By adopting these 7 habits you’ll be on your way to grow personally and as an entrepreneur. It’s not too late to adopt these habits. You can start straight away!

What habits do you think successful entrepreneurs have?
Let us know in the comments below or on social media.

7 Successful Australian App Entrepreneurs

“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen” – Scott Belsky, Founder of Behance

Do you have an app idea that has the potential to be the next big thing? All you need is the big idea coupled with the passion and drive towards making it successful. This means getting it developed and published in the app market. Here are 7 Australian app entrepreneurs who have turned their app idea into a success.

Related: 7 Kick-Ass Inspirational Female Entrepreneurs

1. Jess Wilson – Creator of the “Tinder for Clothes”

jess-wilson-stashd2Stashd is a fashion discovery app created by Jess Wilson. The idea came from the lack of retailers’ engagement she experienced when shopping online. The fashion discovery app lets users view clothing and accessories from global fashion stores. Then they either stash (swiping right and storing it) or trash (swiping left and deleting it). Stashed is used in over 80 countries with over 4,200 brands partnering with the app and over 500,000 fashion items accessible. It has even partnered with Tencent, a popular shopping app in China.

2. Chris Strode – Ensuring the numbers add up for businesses

chris-strode

Chris Strode is the creator and founder of Invoice2Go, which is a business app where users can create, send and manage invoices from their smartphone. Chris could not find accounting software that were easy to use, which sparked the app idea. From starting out as a side business, Invoice2Go is now worth over $100 million, has raised $50 million in funding and expanded overseas. It has been the number one business app in the app store and is used by more than 200,000 small businesses around the world.  

3. Melanie Perkins –  Turning the world into a graphic designer overnight

melanie-perkins-canva2

Melanie Perkins created Canva at the age of 19 in her home. The app makes it easier for users to perform advanced graphic design tasks on their Apple devices. Her app idea came as a result of the complexities of graphic design software. Canta is worth $458 million and has gained over $40 million in funding, with celebrities like Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson on the list. Since launch, the app has won numerous awards and achieved worldwide success with over 10 million users across 179 countries.

4. Luke Anear – Improving safety, thousands of workplaces at a time

luke-anear-safety-culture

iAuditor is an app created by Luke Anear that allows businesses to create checklists and audits on Occupational Health and Safety in businesses.The app idea came about while Luke worked in the worker’s compensation industry. He witnessed accidents in the workplace and wanted to prevent any more from happening with this app. Since launch, the app has gained $33.88 million in funding and gained international success. The app is used across 80 countries and they have expanded their offices overseas.

5. George Freney – Saving shoppers time and petrol every day

george-freney-booodl

Booodl is a store discovery engine app created by George Freney that shows users which stores and locations stock products they are looking for. The app idea began when George kept forgetting to buy a USB cable and could not find one at nearby stores. Since launching, more than 15,000 retailers have partnered with Booodl. They’ve won multiple awards, such as the 2015 Aus App design awards, and recently achieved a $2.85 million investment deal with a major shopping centre in Australia.

6. Andrew Low – Enhancing the supply ordering process

andrew-low2

Andrew Low is the co-founder of Ordermentum. Thea app helps businesses in the hospitality industry order supplies efficiently through a cloud platform. With vast experience in Finance and Fast Consumer Goods, Andrew created the app after trying to find a way businesses can order and pay for supplies more efficiently. Since launch, more than 3,000 businesses have signed up to Ordermentum, with more signing up each day. They have recently received $2.5 million in funding and plans of powerhouse investors coming on board.  

7. Peter Marchiori – Making job applications and hiring a breeze

Peter Marchiori created Found Careers. The app is, essentially, the Tinder for jobs. Basically, users create their profile and tick jobs they want to apply for. Users can also chat directly to employers, making communication easier. The app idea was the result of the founders facing difficulties of finding employees in their previous business.  It has over 25,000 downloads and over 2,000 jobs posted. Found recently gained $1.5 million in funding and voted as the #1 useful job platform in Australia.  

Get your app idea developed! Contact us for a free and confidential initial phone consultation!