I remember my first job working at a production company as an associate producer. I had to do some research but within about an hour of sitting at my desk, my brain was going nuts. And I felt like I was going to burst if I didn’t get out of there.
I was just a couple blocks from the beach. And I’d feel the beach start calling to me and pulling me in that direction. I was also a couple blocks from Pete’s coffee shop. And I’d feel the cappuccino calling to me over there. And I was a few blocks from this incredible shopping street in Santa Monica. And I felt the stores calling to me.
I wanted to be anywhere and everywhere but my computer. And trying to get this research done became nearly impossible. But the truth is, I was like one of those wild horses where I just had to learn how to harness all that energy and focus so that I could channel it in one particular direction.
Essentially, I had to figure out how to train my brain to do more, retain more, stay focused and learn faster.
And fortunately, I did, and now I’m able to produce more work in a year than most people do in a lifetime.
Which is why I wanted to share my 10 powerful hacks that you can try today that were a result of about a decade of trial and error.
Hack #1: Be a Thermostat, Rather Than a Thermometer
At the beginning of group coaching calls with my students, sometimes I like to take a pulse check. I ask my students: On a scale of one to 10, how are you really doing? How are you really feeling?
And usually, I get a big range of numbers, from one to 10, including a lot of 3s and 4s.
But when I ask that same question to my coaching team, they’re always somewhere between a seven and a nine.
Well, these are professional coaches; they’ve learned how to help others get what they want in life. And they’ve essentially learned the master skill of self-regulating how they feel in the moment; they’ve learned how to raise their energy at the drop of a hat and really be that thermostat instead of the thermometer.
So when you’re a thermometer, you’re just taking the pulse of how you feel. Hungry? Tired? Sick? Frustrated or even pissed off? Right?
But when you’re a thermostat, you’re able to control how you feel from hot to cold and everything in between and show up as your best self, regardless of the crazy going on.
So take a moment to tune in right now. Or tune in throughout the day. And ask yourself, How am I feeling on a scale of one to 10?
And if you find yourself at a five or you’ve even sunk below a five, check in to see if you can do anything to turn up the dial. And you’ll find that simply bringing your awareness to how you feel will elevate how you feel.
And once you learn how to do this in the normal situations of life, try doing this in the more extraordinary situations.
Like when you’re feeling challenged or when you’re learning something new, try it, then. So you can get to a place of excitement, even when confronting and facing some of the hardest things in life and business.
Now, for many people, overwhelm is a natural part of learning. But when you can shift from being a thermometer to being that thermostat, you can put yourself in a more open and receptive state for learning.
Hack #2: Mastery Through Modifications
If you’re trying to learn and master a new skill, you often learn a few tricks, and you think you’ve mastered it, get bored, and then you quit… BEFORE you’ve actually mastered it.
But think about a child. Have you ever played with a kid and all they do is the same thing over and over and over again for hours? Like putting sand into a bucket, then dumping it out and putting it back in again, but dumping it out and putting it back in again. But they never lose that sense of joy.
Because each time along the way, they experiment, they do it a little differently; they bring a little twist to it. But we as adults have lost much of that joy along the way.
So just because something feels simple doesn’t mean you’ve mastered it. So instead of stopping as you’re just starting to learn something and grow and take it to the next level, try to modify what you’re doing. So boredom doesn’t set in.
So one of the things I’ve done in this domain is to become a master coach and a master mentor. And every year for the last 11 years, I look at my students’ results and success. I’ve been working towards a goal for a very long time.
So I have thousands of students every single year. And you may know that the average online program only gets success for three to seven percent of people. Now, I’ve been aiming to get 51% of my students across the finish line to graduate, complete and take more action than they ever thought possible for a decade. And I finally hit that number!
So how did I do it? I just shifted something every single time I delivered my programs until I hit that 51% mark because now I get to say more people succeed than fail, more people complete and graduate, then stall out, stop and give up. And that’s a big deal for me.
So I had to get fascinated by making all those little tweaks to my program until I hit that number. And now that I’ve hit that number, I’m going to go do it in another domain.
So try to challenge yourself to do something different the next time you do something that feels like it’s become a little bit routine; maybe challenge yourself to go faster, try it from a different angle, use a different tool, or aim for a different outcome.
Keep it really fresh and alive for you.
There’s this amazing Native American quote that you can spend your entire life in your backyard and never truly know a single blade of grass.
So there’s so much depth that’s possible for you when you take this approach.
Hack #3: The Memory Palace Trick
The thing you need to understand is that memory — it’s not something that you’ve got — it’s something you do.
So if you’re struggling to remember everyday things, try this memory palace trick because it’s fun and uses your imagination.
So what is a memory palace?
It’s basically an imaginary location that only exists in your mind where you’re able to store things so that you can remember them later on.
And the most common type of memory palace involves taking a journey through a place you know well, whether it’s your house or maybe a particular route between your house and your office. And then, along the way, assuming you’re always traveling that route, house or location in the same order, you stash things you want to remember in particular areas.
So you go through the front door and see an orange and the orange reminds you of something specific. And you get to choose the symbols of how you want to learn things. And then all you have to do is go back along the route and collect the items you want to remember right when you need to.
So practice building memory palaces in your memory and your ability to recall things deep in your mind will start growing.
Hack #4: Don’t Sacrifice Sleep
Anyone who knows me well knows that I never sacrifice sleep, no matter how busy I get.
Let’s say you’ve got an important presentation coming up; what should you do? Should you stay up until 4am cramming? Or should you prepare for a few hours, get a good night’s sleep, and then return to it feeling refreshed the following day?
The second one.
But time and time again, entrepreneurs try to cram all at once. But when we pull an all-nighter, we actually forget about 50% of the stuff we want to remember because it never finds a place in our long-term memory. You need time to store information in your memory.
So give your brain a chance to really encode all of that information. This is why scientists recommend something called the sleep sandwich…
Study some more
Work some more
Like I said, I never sacrifice sleep. And whenever I have in the past, it just affected the work that I produced in a bad way.
So STOP sacrificing sleep!
Hack #5: Try Doodling or Some Other Mixed Media Learning Modality
At your next kind of event or some time where you’re trying to learn – a conference, a webinar, a masterclass, or even a YouTube video – try doodling or sketching what you’re actually learning.
And this is a practice that’s been used by some of the best-known thinkers and inventors of all time, like Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Thomas Edison, Marie Curie and Henry Ford.
It’s also super fun!
So when you blend styles together, you’ll activate different parts of your brain, allowing you to store more detailed sensory information and begin to understand concepts from different perspectives.
Now, you can put this one into practice when you attend my FREE Masterclass – Discover the Business You’re Truly Meant to Build & How to Share It With the World.
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Hack #6: Intellectual Hydration
This one is super easy, but it works. When you’re learning something new, staying hydrated can actually help you retain that knowledge. Because water keeps your brain functioning like it’s supposed to, enabling you to digest information, store new memories and solve more complex problems.
If you get tired of water, make it a cup of tea. Just be sure you’ve got something to drink handy at your next training, when you grab that new book or even when you’re listening to a podcast or watching a YouTube video.
Hack #7: Musical Stress Relief
Studies show that music makes your mind more receptive to new information and improves your memory by engaging different areas of your brain.
The biggest advantage of listening to music, though, isn’t just kind of remembering more; it’s actually stress relief.
So as busy entrepreneurs, we definitely need to relieve stress. And music has been shown to increase the overall feeling of relaxation. So you can perform at your best no matter what’s happening around you. So the next time you’re learning, take a break, put on some music, and maybe even get up and dance.
Hack #8: Practice in Pieces
So think about the last conference or event or webinar you attended. Did you leave with a bunch of notes, sit down at home and then try to read through all of them in one sitting?
This is a common problem I see with so many entrepreneurs, and I get it. You want to just cram and get it done and be that overachiever.
But when you do that, you actually end up overwhelmed and lost and not sure what to do next. And that’s because the human brain is not designed to store massive amounts of information at the same time. And this is why online courses that drop a ton of information on you all at once don’t work because your long-term memory is a lot slower than your short-term memory.
So instead of spending all day going over your notes, break your notes into smaller chunks, and you’re going to end up retaining a whole lot more.
Hack #9: Monitor Your Self-Talk
So if you’ve ever said I’m terrible at remembering names or something like that, you know you are having self-talk that’s going to affect you negatively. Because when you keep saying this, you’re actually programming your brain to believe this.
And your mind is always eavesdropping on your self-talk. So if you really want to learn faster and remember more, you have to learn to monitor and regulate your negative self-talk.
Because the biggest hack to learning faster and retaining more is shifting your beliefs about yourself and what you’re actually capable of.
Hack #10: Take the Hard Road
In today’s super fast-paced world, it’s like we’re always all looking for the next shortcut, whether that’s a shortcut for losing weight or retaining knowledge.
But shortcuts don’t always mean you’re going to learn faster and retain more. In fact, they often can become this crutch that hinders your success. And taking the hard road when it comes to learning and retaining information is often a whole lot more efficient in the long run.
Take traditional note-taking versus typing on your laptop.
Handwriting your notes takes longer and can seem less efficient, but they actually stick in your memory more than typing them. And you’d have to retype your notes again and again to have that same cognitive impact.
So shortcuts don’t always help you, and often, it’s better to just take the hard road.
There you have it – 10 hacks I’ve learned from training my brain so I could learn faster and retain more! Let me know in a comment the hack you’re most excited to try.
But before you go…
If you’re ready to build your dream business – the one that’ll light you up – go ahead and save your seat for my FREE Masterclass – Discover the Business You’re Truly Meant to Build & How to Share It With the World.