How to be Productive – Part 5: Developing Your Brain

Welcome back to our ongoing series on productivity! So far, we’ve delved into the art of effective planning, the science of constructing a conducive environment, and the psychology behind fostering a responsible mindset. We’ve even explored how to cultivate willpower and maintain focus. But the cornerstone supporting all these elements is a well-functioning brain, your ultimate tool for reaching peak performance. That’s why Part 5, we shift our focus to brain development.

What Can We Actually Develop?

When it comes to brain development, several key objectives can guide us toward targeted improvement:

  • Cognitive Speed: The pace at which you can process information and make decisions. Enhancing this will allow you to accomplish more in less time.
  • Attention Span: Your ability to concentrate on a task for extended periods without getting distracted. A longer attention span enables you to delve deeper into tasks, enhancing both quality and efficiency.
  • Memory: Both short-term and long-term memory matter. Quick recall abilities can streamline your workflow by reducing the time you spend looking up information.
  • Problem-Solving Abilities: These skills can navigate you through complex issues effectively, saving you from productivity pitfalls.
  • Logical Reasoning: Improved logical reasoning can aid in quicker and more accurate decision-making.
  • Creativity: The ability to think outside the box and come up with novel solutions can solve problems that standard methods can’t address.
  • Information Retention: Enhanced retention makes learning new skills and mastering new tasks easier, further increasing productivity.
  • Processing Efficiency: Efficient mental processing is crucial for effectively managing multiple pieces of information or tasks simultaneously.

Before We Start: Let’s Get Ready

Before diving into specific exercises and activities designed to develop your brain, it’s crucial to set a strong foundation. Achieving peak cognitive performance isn’t just about individual exercises; it’s also about holistic well-being. Living a healthy lifestyle by maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep can significantly impact your brain’s functionality. So consider this your preliminary step: nourish your body to nourish your mind. Additionally, take time to clear mental clutter. Whether it’s stress, anxiety, or simple distractions, a clear mind will be more receptive to the growth and changes that this guide aims to facilitate.


Initially, I thought about grouping all the brain development activities by specific improvement metric groups. However, upon diving deeper, I realized that this could get overly complex. Many activities could fall under multiple categories, and I wanted to avoid redundancy. So, I’ve simplified things for you. I’ve also filtered out some of the more obvious and less engaging activities to bring you a consolidated list that’s both effective and interesting.

  • 🌱 Mindfulness Exercises – practice being aware of your surroundings without judgment. Rather than letting your mind wander into thoughts about the past or the future, the focus is on the here and now. This can include exercises like:
    • Mindful Eating: Paying full attention to each bite, savoring the taste and texture.
    • Sensory Observation: Actively noting sights, smells, and sounds around you.
    • Body Scan: Mentally scanning your body from head to toe, paying attention to areas of tension or comfort.
  • 👀 Visual Focus Drills – concentrate on a stationary object for extended periods. These exercises train your eyes and brain to focus on specific elements while filtering out distractions. Examples include:
    • Staring at a dot on a wall without letting your eyes wander.
    • Following a moving object with your eyes without moving your head.
    • Practicing “magic eye” images where you need to maintain focus to see the hidden object.
  • 🧩 Puzzles and Logic Games – Engage in activities like Sudoku, crosswords, or logic puzzles to stimulate problem-solving abilities, I find chess to be an exceptionally rewarding exercise in this category.
  • 🕵️‍♀️ Root Cause Analysis – When confronted with a problem, dig deeper to identify its root causes rather than focusing on the symptoms. Use techniques like the “5 Whys” to dig deep and find the root cause of the issue. By understanding the fundamental problem, you can develop a more effective solution.
  • 📚 Reading and Reflective Writing – Dive into books, particularly classics, to engage deeply with complex narratives and ideas. Afterward, jot down your thoughts and interpretations to stimulate both your creative and critical thinking faculties.
  • 🌙 Dream Journaling – Keep a journal to note down your dreams as soon as you wake up. This not only helps you remember your dreams better but also fosters introspection and self-awareness.
  • ⌨️ Ten-Finger Touch Typing – Practice typing using all ten fingers without looking at the keyboard. This enhances your tactile-motor skills and increases your processing speed.
  • ✏️ Pencil Drawing and Sketching – Take up the art of drawing and sketching using a pencil. Not only does it foster creativity, but it also improves your hand-eye coordination and attention to detail.
  • 🌍 Multilingual Mastery – Learn multiple foreign languages from different language groups to boost cognitive flexibility, problem-solving skills, and cultural awareness.
  • 🎵 Musical Instrument Training – Learn to play a musical instrument to enhance your auditory skills, motor coordination, and emotional expression.
  • 🚀 Break Boundaries – Challenge yourself in different dimensions, this set of actions aims to broaden your perspective, instigate cognitive flexibility, and encourage adaptability:
    • Change your clothing style
    • Rearrange your furniture
    • Move to a new location
    • Travel more frequently
    • Alter your routine routes
    • Use different computer operating systems
    • Experiment with various forms of art

Call to Action

Now that you’re equipped with a diverse arsenal of techniques and activities for brain development, the next step is yours to take. Action breeds progress. So, don’t just admire these practices—incorporate them into your daily routine. Whether you choose to expand your linguistic capabilities, take up an instrument, or simply change your route to work, remember: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Start today, and embrace the transformation that cognitive growth brings. The only limits that exist are the ones you place on yourself.