People seem to be happy to accept the fact that they have only so much physical energy. What many don’t realize, is that we also have just so much mental energy, and no more… Look at chess players – even the best in the world reach a peak around the age of 40, and then tend to slide downhill. As soon as they are regularly starting to be defeated by younger players, these great masters of the checkered board all acknowledge that they simply don’t have the same mental energy they used to have to consistently win games at those high levels.
Albert Einstein, maybe the greatest mind of all, even had many identical outfits so that it wouldn’t be necessary for him to waste any mental resources trying to decide what to wear. He even refused to memorize his phone number for the same reason.
Maybe he was on to something…
Here are ten easy steps to make sure you become the sharpest pencil in the box – and remain there:
- Rest! Get a proper full night’s sleep. Nothing recharges your brain, intellect and emotions quite as well as a good night’s sleep. The easiest way to improve on this, is to have a proper sleep routine for the time you go to bed at night and the time you wake up in the morning. This is the best way to make sure you’re getting enough quality sleep. Everyone has an optimum amount of sleep ‒ make sure you get yours each night.
- Get into routine. Setting a strict routine is an easy to avoid unnecessary decision-making. Pay your weekly bills say every Saturday afternoon, or your monthly bills on the first free evening after getting paid at the end of the month. Set up a morning routine from the moment your alarm clock stirs you out of what will hopefully be a sound sleep you’re close the door behind you. The less you have to focus on and decide on what needs to be done, the more mental energy you’ll have for those things that really matter.
- Don’t multi-task: Study after study has shown that multi-tasking just plain inefficient and sometimes a waste of valuable time. It takes time and energy to switch from one task to another – do it smoothly by focusing on mono-tasking as opposed to doing three or more things simultaneously.
- Take a break. Taking regular breaks allows you to get re-energized and to get more done. Even very short breaks will help you get a mental (and physical) boost. Stop for fifteen minutes every two hours, and see for yourself. This seems to work best for most people. Try out a few different schedules.
- Get off your butt and get some exercise. You don’t have to become the next world champion, but get started. Exercise clears the mind. The exertion coupled with an activity that doesn’t require a lot of thought (like jogging or taking a brisk walk) will have a magical effect on your mental reserves.
- Mind junk food ‒ eat wisely. Your body uses a lot of energy to digest what you’ve eaten. Stay away from hard-to-digest and processed foods. Also avoid foods that wreak havoc with your blood sugar levels. This can significantly alter the way you feel.
- Forget about certain things – get the things that don’t really matter behind you and move on. If you have a limited amount of mental energy, it makes absolute sense to save it for the things that do matter. Most things in life are not worth all the fuss – save your mental energy and attention for those things that will make a difference.
- Plan tomorrow before you go to bed. It is always that much easier and more productive to start a new day knowing what lies ahead. Before you go to sleep, check your diary or journal for the next day and make a list of other things to do. No mental energy goes to waste trying to figure out what is waiting for you when you wake up the next morning.
- Don’t try to do everything yourself. Save yourself for the critical issues and assign less important tasks to others. Let the kids take out the trash and walk the dog; give your employees additional responsibilities – it helps them to grow as well.
- Keep watchful eye on your self-talk. It doesn’t take much to wear ourselves out with lots of negativity or unproductive thoughts. Keep your internal dialog positive. This is far more important than most people think.
Conserve and build your mental energy each and every way imaginable. It will feel better and make you perform better in all facets of your life. Pick some ideas and slowly build them into your life. Albert Einstein took it seriously and had a very productive life.
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