If you’re interested in how to get things done, start by thinking about your brain!
It is a muscle and like any muscle, it is linked to your overall physical health and fitness. A healthy body truly is a healthy mind. What follows are 10 quick fire things you can do to increase your attention, focus, alertness and all-round brain performance.
Keep a bottle of water on your desk at all times.
Figure out a way to incorporate drinking water into your daily routine.
Have a pint of water first thing in the morning before you leave the house and another when you arrive at the office.
Five or six small meals are better than three big ones
By regularly eating small meals you’ll create a more balanced release of energy, keeping your brain more focussed.
Have a small breakfast at home – then have another when you reach the office.
Eat half of your lunch a bit earlier – Eat half a bit later.
When you eat, don’t do anything else – we get too full when we don’t notice soon enough!
Yes, that old chestnut. It’s a cliché because it’s true. Fire up your metabolism early in the day and get the brain fuelled and ready for action.
Eat vitamin heavy food and cut out the crap
Natural, raw, organic ingredients are going to do your body a lot more good than another McDonald’s. Think about the overall balance of your diet (a little of what you fancy can do you good) but ensure a good range of colours of vegetables and varied, low fat sources of protein such as lean meat, fish and beans.
As a sparsely used weapon, coffee or tea can be great; as a crutch it’s so unproductive.
Aim for one coffee a day and if you need to boost your energy at other times, try snacking on apples as an alternative (it works surprisingly well!).
Think about your Glycemic Index (GI)
As well as thinking about the quality of the food that you put into your body, think about how slowly or quickly the energy gets released. Foods that have a low GI rating mean they release their energy more slowly and therefore more consistently. High GI foods can leave you constantly reaching highs and lows, rather than experiencing a steady flow of energy throughout the day.
Low GI foods > beans, green vegetables, oranges, sunflower seeds, eggs, peanuts, apples, tuna, pears and peaches.
Medium GI foods > bananas, granola, crisps, rice, sugar, granola, cereal, croissants and kiwi fruit.
High GIs > things like potatoes, sweets, fizzy drinks, biscuits, some breads, chips and perhaps more surprisingly, things like carrots, watermelon, raisins and dried dates.
Investing in a juicer can be a great way to get a good fix of raw nutrition at the start of every day.
Take some with you if you’re in meetings or staying overnight in a hotel for a vitamin boost!
Like caffeine, sugar is a great temporary solution to increasing your energy and therefore your short-term attention. It’s an equally unsustainable long-term option. Drink water or fruit juices instead of lots of fizzy drinks, although be aware that fruit juices can be equally high in (natural) sugars!
There are a range of supplements on the market that are recommended to improve cognitive performance, the nervous system and physical suppleness. Keep some of the basic supplements in a cupboard at home and another set of identical supplements in your desk drawer so that you can take them regularly, whenever you happen to remember.
A fish oil tablet for the brain, zinc for immunity and a good multivitamin for overall health and well-being are all you really need.
Losing sleep is sometimes inevitable, but nevertheless do all you can to improve both the quality and quantity of your sleep.
Want to know one of my guilty secrets? If I have a whole day working from home, I will often have a little ‘power nap’ just after lunch or mid-afternoon. Even twenty minutes of quiet darkness is enough to recharge and revive.