How Video Games Can Improve Your Mind

Researchers at the University of Rochester compared the attentional blink of video gamers against people who rarely play any video games at all. They found that gamers are able to simultaneously spot more of what they wanted to see in a quicker time frame. This research suggests that gamers can skim books quicker, and will be able to find the information they need much faster than non-gamers. [Read the video game research from Mind Hacks]

Memorizing Dates and Numbers Quickly

There are a lot of techniques to help you memorize numbers and dates quickly. One of my favorites involves associating numbers with letters.

For example:

0 = Z or S (zero)
1 = T or D (one downstroke)
2 = N (two downstrokes)
3 = M (three down strokes)
4 = R (R looks like 4 backwards)
5 = L (Roman Numeral for 50 is L)
6 = G (six looks like a G)
7 = K
8 = F
9 = P (9 looks like a P backwards)

You can associate any number with any letter, but the key is to memorize one letter for each number. Any letter not associated with a number doesn’t mean anything.

So this is how it works:

Let’s pretend you had to memorize that George Washington was born in 1732. To do this, you simply substitute the numbers for letters.

In this case: 1732 = TKMN

TKMN doesn’t make any sense, so you can add vowels to develop a fun way to associate TKMN with George Washington.

For example:

Take Men George Washington had to take men to war
Took Men George Washington took men to war
Teak Man Imagine George Washington made out of teak

The more creative you can use the letters, the better youll remember the date.

Flash Card Hacks

Flash cards can help you memorize information quickly and more efficiently.

As long as you carry them with you, you can study whenever you have a free moment. You’d be surprised how many times during a day you can break them out and start studying.

And flash cards can be used to narrow down the subjects and terms you’re having the toughest time learning. As you practice, you can start creating two stacks of cards: the stack of cards you know well, and the cards you still need to study.

Flash cards not only help you learn quicker, but it builds your confidence with the material you’re learning.

Here are 5 great websites that you can use to create, share, and find free flash cards:

Flash Card Wiki
Create and share your web-based flash cards

Pauker Open Source Flash Cards
Create and import your flash cards

Pro Profs Flash Cards
Tons of free flash cards ready to download

Flash Card Machine
Interactive web application for you to create and share your flash cards

Flash Card Exchange
Print and share your flash cards

Boost Your Brain Power with These Super Foods

Now that school is starting back up, it’s time to give your brain everything it needs to stay sharp and attentive in class.

So here are 5 foods to help you improve your memory and supercharge your brain:

Fish
Fish is not only high in good protein, but also filled with essential vitamins and minerals for your brain; including: phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, and vitamins A and D. And fish oil is a great source of Omega-3 fat, which can improve your brain’s chemistry and development. We recommend: tuna, sardine, anchovy, salmon and bluefish.

Blueberries
The Journal of Neuroscience published some research from Tufts University that suggested that blueberries can improve memory loss. Blueberries are also filled with antioxidants and have been reported to inhibit colon cancer and Ovarian cancer.

Wholegrain Foods
Wholegrain foods are a great way to get folic acid and B vitamins into your body. You see, B vitamins like Thiamine, Pantothenic Acid, and Pridoxine have been shown to reduce memory loss. If you’re not eating enough wholegrain foods, we recommend taking a good B vitamin that has B1, B5, B6, and B12.

Pumpkin Seeds
Buy a bag of roasted pumpkin seeds and chew on them throughout the day. Pumpkin seeds are filled with zinc, which has been known to help improve thinking skills.

Broccoli
Broccoli is filled with vitamin K, and can help improve your brain chemistry and overall brainpower.

Eating all the right foods won’t guarantee that you’re brain is at its best performance. You need to balance healthy eating along with good sleep, cardiovascular activity, and plenty of water.

Making Planning a Routine

You’ve probably heard that it take 21 days to form a habit. Or was it 30 days? Some are saying 66 days. However long it takes, you can’t seem to maintain a schedule where you get stuff done. This was me just a couple years ago, but after trying out different methods as an undergraduate student, I’ve finally formed a good habit: planning.

I now religiously believe that the key to success is good planning. It’s not enough to just show up. There needs to be an action plan where all the steps are clear. So how did I get started?

I forced myself to really live with this notebook. I kept it on my desk next to my alarm, I put it in my backpack whenever I left my dorm room, and tried to use it to keep little memos to get into the practice of using the notebook. Over the few months I tried out different notebooks and planning styles, these are the main tips I found were useful for all of them.

Don’t micromanage.

The first few weeks were test runs. I got a random small free notebook at a fair and wrote a literal hour-by-hour schedule. It was a total mess, since the minute I was behind because I had not finished a certain assignment by the time I thought I would, it ruined the rest of my day because it pushed all my other activities behind. I still have all my notebooks, and looking back, there are a lot of crossed out lines. Planning your day doesn’t have to mean have a rigid schedule. Now I use my notebooks as to-do lists, usually in order of importance. I draw a circle next to it if I finished it, and a red X if I didn’t.

Learn to prioritize.

It’s understandable when things don’t work out like you thought it would. Family emergencies, traffic, team member suddenly calling sick, you getting sick, etc. When certain tasks on your list haven’t gotten done by the evening, it’s time to practice your planning skills! Planning is also about learning to prioritize tasks. Can your calculus assignment be done tomorrow instead of today? Do you absolutely need to do the dishes tonight, or can your roommate tolerate it one more day? When things are written down, it’s easy to simply move it off to the next day, but also be warned. One thing I saw during a busy season was that my to-do list continued to get bigger and bigger. When you notice that your to-do list is growing, and you’ve lost the motivation to feel like you have to do it that day, you’re procrastinating. Reorganize your plans, and focus on trying to get the list down to zero.

Keep yourself accountable.

Just having your day opened out in front of you may help, but sometimes you look back at your day and realize, wow, you barely got anything done! Think- what was the reason? Write it down, and if that reason keeps popping up, figure out a way around it. For me, my most unproductive days were because I ran into a friend either while walking from class or at the cafeteria, and ended up having an extremely long lunch. After that, I consciously trained myself to never eat for over 45 minutes on days I needed to get things done.

Another important thing about developing this habit is to not give up when you realize you haven’t opened up your planner in days. It took me maybe 2 months to actually integrate it into my daily life. It takes time for a routine to be created, so don’t get discouraged!

Try different styles.

Every student is different and the type of planner and level of detail is totally up to you. It is also a good tip to schedule a specific period of time you get all your work done. Some people enjoy bullet journaling (it’s very time consuming however), and others go even more minimalistic with a simple to-do app. However you do it, take the first few weeks to test out new methods. You may even learn something new about yourself, like I did!
And with that, hopefully you’re ready to start a planning routine. Be sure to take time to find the right fit, and don’t be discouraged! If you think planning is not for you, try switching it up. There’s definitely a good match for every student.

This post was written by Shannon from www.regularlee.com, a student life blog. Regularlee shares various productivity tips, student resources, daily life hacks, and guides on starting off an internship.

How to Persuade More Effectively (Without Changing a Word) – 9 Nonverbal Strategies That Work

You may not know this – but your nonverbal communication plays a big role in how persuasive you are.

Thats right.

Your body gestures, movements, tone of voice, touch, distance from the person, eye contact, and physical appearance can make you more or less persuasive.

Here are 9 nonverbal ways to dramatically increase your persuasive power:

1. Touching
There have been countless studies on the power of touch – and its effectiveness on persuasion. Jacob Hornick (1992) studied waiters and waitresses who touched and didnt touch diners during their meals. Touching not only increased tips significantly, it also caused customers to evaluate the restaurant more favorably. Interestingly, attractive waitresses who touched female customers received the highest tips of all. Other studies have shown that customers in bars drank significantly more alcohol when touched by cocktail waitresses (Kaufman and Mahoney, 1999). Burgoon, Walther, and Baesler (1992) found that touch carries favorable interpretations of immediacy, affection, similarity, and relaxation.

2. Smiling
There have been dozens of studies showing the persuasive power of smiling; for example: waitresses earn more tips (Gueguen & Fischer-Lokou, 2004), job interviewers create positive impressions (Washburn & Hakel, 1973) and more likely to get the job (Forbes & Jackson, 1980), and even students accused of cheating are treated with greater leniency when smiling (LaFrance & Hecht, 1995). Smiling doesnt always work in every situation, but it can definitely help you seem more positive and upbeat which often aids in persuasiveness.

3. Mirroring
A lot of people in sales like to use mirroring to improve their persuasiveness. The assumption behind mirroring is that people like others who are just like them – so if I smile, the sales person should smile; if I laugh, the sales person should laugh, etc.

4. Lean Forward
People who learn forward tend to be more persuasive than those who dont – and people who use open body positions (e.g. arms and legs positioned away from body) rather than in closed body positions are also more persuasive (McGinley, LeFevre, & McGinley, 1975).

5. Eye Contact
As you know, eye contact can help you reveal your interest in something or somebody. Well, it is also a good way to make yourself more persuasive. In a university research study, they found that beggars who were able to establish eye contact with strangers (and made legitimate requests) were more likely to get money from that person (Robinson, Seiter, & Acharya, 1992). Interestingly, lack of eye contact has also shown to be successful when making illegitimate requests since it makes the person seem more humble or embarrassed (Kleinke, 1980).

6. Distance
Your geographical location to someone can increase your persuasive power. In a study by Baron and Bell (1976), diners in a cafeteria were approached by an experimenter and asked to volunteer for a survey for a period of 30 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes. The experimenter made requests of diners either 12 to 18 inches away or 3 to 4 feet away. Results showed that diners volunteered for longer surveys when approached by closer distances.

7. Dress for Success
Research shows that what we wear can greatly impact our credibility and status (Burgoon, Buller & Woodall, 1966). This includes our grooming, hair length, cosmetics, etc (Atkins & Kent 1988).

8. Talk Faster
Miller, Maruyama, Beaber, and Valone (1976) found that speeches delivered at fast speeds were more persuasive than those at slow or moderate speeds (perhaps because persuaders who speak faster appear more competent and knowledgeable). Faster speeches also have less scrutiny (Smith and Shaffer, 1995).

9. Use Hand Movements
Using hand movements encourages attention and retention in your persuasion attempt. Woodall and Folger (1981) found that people recalled 34% of a verbal message when accompanied by hand gestures, compared to only 11%. And Saigh (1981) found that the more teachers gesture, the more their students learn.

Hopefully, some of these strategies work for you the next time you ask for a paper extension from your professor.