Enhancing human performance has been a subject that I’ve delved into over the past several years, as I’ve put the time into researching and writing on the subject. For the sake of this article, I want to cover how to enhance your cognitive skills in order to bring your writing up to a level you didn’t think was possible.
My motivation for that comes from the Limitless movie starring Bradley Cooper. If you’re interested in human performance and enhancing your capabilities, I recommend watching that movie more for entertainment.
5 steps to Becoming Limitless and Unlocking your Writing and Creative Potential
- Learn a Wide Variety of Subjects
We all have our favorite genre of books to read. But to truly become limitless and have a mass of useful relevant knowledge, you have to expand your horizons. Read books on business, leadership, and technology. Work on expanding your hands-on experience. This could include auto repair, home repairs, cooking, bartending, or just learning a new skill.
To truly retain new knowledge, you have to push yourself. Not only is this useful to you personally, but people around you will start thinking that you’re one hell of an interesting person to be around.
To take it a step further, you’re reading and studying needs to be thorough. Studies suggest that you need to read 3 books on a particular subject to know more about that subject than 99% of the population. Most people have a hard time reading through 1 book in its entirety. If you can discipline yourself to read 3 books on any particular subject you want to learn about, you’ll be considered a subject matter expert compared to most people.
To become limitless, you cannot just go through the motions of reading the book. You need to take notes and highlight useful information. The goal is to not just read but to absorb as much relevant information as possible. This skill in itself will help you when researching information for your writing tasks as you progress through your writing career.
2. Talk To Someone About Your Ideas | The Student Becomes the Master
Have regular conversations. The process of soaking in the information, from the first step to now, means talking about in a relevant, engaging conversation. If you really want to be that someone who is always overflowing with useful information, you have to practice both the input of that information and the output of that information.
In my past experience, when I’ve had to teach or instruct someone else or a group on a particular topic, it really solidified that knowledge for me. Conversation forces you to research the topic, and then convey it to others in an understandable format.
3. Learn to Meditate and Enter Into a Flow State
A lot of people think of meditation as some weird mystical experience, but in truth, it’s a simple process that takes only 5 minutes of your time. Set a timer on your phone for 5 minutes. Close your eyes and begin to breathe in very slowly and exhale very slowly. Focus all your attention on taking those breaths instead of on your racing thoughts. Do this until your timer goes off. That’s it. You’re done! When you open your eyes, you should be in a complete state of focus. Once you achieve that laser focus from meditation, you can enter into a flow state much faster.
If you find yourself struggling to read something or write something dull, there is a simple process to break through that. Enter into a flow state, and then get to work.
The first step in doing this is slowing down your brain. When your brain is stimulated, like when you’re browsing social media or watching Youtube videos, it’s tough to slow your brain down in order to accomplish something slower-paced, like reading or writing. The human brain has been conditioned to these short-lived dopamine hits from overstimulation. The best thing to do to break that cycle is to step away from the stimulation and take a walk or meditate.
This is another reason to do your most important work first thing in the morning. After 6 to 8 hours of sleep, your brain has completed its reset cycle and is starting out the day unstimulated. Don’t look at your phone until that most important task is completed. Turn the ringer off, put it on do-not-disturb or turn it over so you cannot see alerts pop up on the screen. Treat your morning productivity time with respect. The emails and other notifications can wait until later in the morning.
The second step to this is finding a playlist that keeps you focused and motivated. Having a music playlist is like having a cheat code to productivity. Your brain will create a neural pathway that associates that music with productivity.
The last step is getting past the concentration hump. This typically happens within 5 or 10 minutes of sitting down to read a book or write something. When you hit that wall, the task becomes boring, you lose focus and just want to quit. If you can push through that concentration hump and stick with the task at hand for 20 minutes or more, your brain will enter into a flow state and that task will become easier.
I have found myself struggling with writing content sometimes and wanting to quit, but what I found was that if I just powered through for 20 minutes or so, I was able to get back into a flow and accomplish the task regardless of outside stressors.
4. Reduce Social Media Use and Bad Screen Time
When you’re mindlessly scrolling through your social media feeds, your brain shuts down the intellectual side and activates the primal side. What I mean by this is that your brain is now looking for that quick dopamine hit, which is a primal instinct. There is no good reason to enter into that state of mind when you need to increase your productivity.
Doing this makes focusing on more complex tasks that much more difficult. I’m not saying it’s all bad. Social media is a great tool for communication and awareness, but you need to be responsible about usage.
No screen time 1 hour before bed each night. Before lying down in bed, make a list of 3 personal and 3 professional tasks you want to complete the next day. When you wake up in the morning, DO NOT look at your phone until one of the 3 tasks, either personal or professional, is complete.
This also applies to reading your email. By keeping your screen time in check, you’ll be able to better accomplish the previous 3 steps and enhance your human capabilities.
5. Take Care of Your Body and Exercise Regularly
This includes simple tasks such as going to bed at a decent time, waking up at a decent time, staying hydrated, eating well and exercising regularly. Regular exercise is one of the single most important things you can do to keep your brain healthy and operating at peak levels.
Next to exercise is drinking water. Your brain is composed of 80% water, so try not to dehydrate it by drinking too much coffee or alcohol. Being dehydrated by only 2% negatively impacts your brain’s performance, and you’ll start to notice a reduction in your memory and focus. If you can discipline yourself to drink water consistently, you’ll notice a positive effect on your writing and creativity.
What is good for the body is good for the brain. The previous 4 tips are useless unless you get this one right. What good is it, if you’re putting all this information into an ill-maintained body? A well maintained body often leads to increased mental clarity and capacity — something every writer needs.
Following the above 5 steps will start you on a journey to reaching your full potential and enhancing your human performance and capabilities. What works for me may not work for you. We are all different. Use these as guidelines and start dialing in your lifestyle today in order to become limitless and watch your writing soar to new heights.
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