How to save brain energy (for more important things)

Deep ✨

In previous blogs, I have written about the ways in which our brain automatically saves energy for survival reasons. I’ve also given you some tips on how to save your time and space for the more important things in life. Now, let’s look at ways to deliberately save brain energy, so we can use this energy for what really makes us happy and fulfilled.

As humans, we actually still use a lot of energy on trivial choices, worry, judgement and time-management. Even though our practical lives become easier and more time and energy saving every day (think of the appliances in our home, AI or algorithms), our brains are still not always spending our energy on the most important things. Luckily, there are some interventions we can do you change this, so we have more energy left to do things in which we find happiness- like the realisation of our dreams.

Eliminate trivial choices

The first and most obvious tip is to waste less energy on making choices that don’t really matter. During the day, we have to make many decisions, and this starts from the moment we wake up: What am I going to do first? What am I going to wear? What do I want for breakfast? And this continues all throughout the day: What am I going to do when I arrive at work? Who am I going to ask for lunch? What do I eat for dinner? When am I going to do my laundry and my groceries?

Of course, having options during the day feels great and makes us feel more free. But making all these decisions every single day takes our brain a lot of energy, while they don’t necessarily make our day much better. At the end of the day, did making wearing a blue sweater instead of a red one make that much of a difference? Did having chicken for lunch instead of fish make you really happy?

When you look at the bigger picture, these choices are actually not worth turning on your brain for and just lead to decision fatigue. This is why really successful people usually eliminate this type of ‘small decisions’ during their day. Have you ever wondered why Steve Jobs always wore the same black turtle neck?

One way to incorporate this trick into your life (without getting really bored) is to decide at least on a category of food for every part of your day, or to limit the choices. For example, I always either have oatmeal or a green smoothie for breakfast. A way to make your outfit choices easier is to make a capsule wardrobe: this way, it doesn’t matter what you pick from your closet – it all matches. Planning ahead and applying the same structure in every day also helps. Then you don’t have to decide on your next to-do’s, as they are already planned out.

Keep an open mind

As human beings, we also spend a lot of unnecessary energy on judging, trying to comprehend, and making sense of people and events. Even though this is in our nature (and was once essential for survival), in modern day life where we don’t have many threats, judgement and understanding is very often unnecessary. We don’t have to understand everyone and everything – as long as we somewhat understand what matters to us. We don’t have to know everything or have an opinion on things that do not affect our daily lives.

I know, it is not in our nature to leave spaces blank and to say ‘I don’t know and I don’t have to’. However, getting used to this state of mind – state of life I would even say – does come with a lot of peace, and a lot of important brain energy left to do other things.

So stay open, don’t judge, and keep your attention on what’s really worth your focus. Everything else will do just fine – even without your brain wrapped around it.

Use your excitement and inspiration

The next tip is to listen to your feelings of excitement and inspiration in every moment. If you have a task that you really don’t feel like doing, don’t stress on it and spend hours and hours struggling to get it done. Decide that this is not the moment in a very early stage, and feel that this really is the moment later that day, the next day, or the next week.

This way, you will waste a lot less energy on the same tasks, and you will also find it way easier to do and more exciting. If the burden of starting at all is what’s keeping you from doing the task and what’s taking up all your energy, read this blog to make that easier.

Of course, not every thing on your list will some day excite you if you just wait for inspiration. Some things just need to be done. In that case, use the moment right before the deadline (where you can do it on the adrenaline provided by time-pressure) or wait for a moment where you don’t like doing it, but don’t hate doing it either; a moment of indifference.

When you use the right moments to do the right things, and make these decisions fast – based on initial excitement/inspiration and intuition – you will learn that certain tasks or problems take up less energy than before. Because you are basically taking your brain’s easiest way out. You will also see that feeling whether or not this is the right moment to use your energy, will become a easier after doing it more often.

After eliminating some trivial choices, accepting that I don’t have to know or understand everything, and picking the right moments, I have found that I have more inspiration and good ideas than before. At work and in my private life, I just feel more calm yet energised during the day, and I’m more aware of where I want my focus to be.

Let me know if you try these tips, and if you feel the same way!

xx Coco

(How to) use the momentum

Deep ✨

So you want to write a blog, pick up a new hobby, lose a few pounds, quit drinking, or something that even remotely fits the word ‘goal’? I believe you should go for it. Period. But how do you know you are ready for it? How do you know this is your moment? Let me explain why the fact that you get excited about it; feel like doing it; want to finally go for it; makes this moment your momentum.

There is no right time

First of all, there is never really a right time for anything. Unless you want to talk astrology, there’s no way to reason why this moment is better or worse than any other moment. Because most goals are reached thanks to dedication, a great mindset, a little bit of talent and a teeny tiny bit of luck.

Timing really isn’t something to focus on, simply because of the fact you will never know if the time is right. These things can only be judged afterwards, and there will definitely never be an afterwards if you don’t start, so really: now is as good a time as any.

Use your excitement

Secondly, I believe the fact that you get excited and want to put your effort in this goal now, really counts for something. In fact, I believe your excitement and (these first signs of) commitment are all you need to start. Think about the goal as something you like doing, and you want to do just for yourself. Don’t think about the ‘success’ of it yet. Think about it as something you can pick up just because you feel like it, and that needs to be the only reason. If you want to do it, if you enjoy doing it, or if it will make you proud to do it – that really is enough!

Trust that the fact that you feel like doing it, means that it is worthwhile putting your time and effort in. It doesn’t have to be the greatest thing you ever did, it doesn’t need to be loved and acknowledged by a great number of people, if you change your mind or if you were mistaken in your excitement – no one even ever has to know! You are allowed to do what you want, you are allowed to ‘just’ have fun with it, and you are allowed to fail at it.

Remember your childhood

Take this example: when a was a child I really liked painting and drawing. When I was really young, I was actually quite good at it – for my young age. Later on, when it was taught in school, I lost my interest for it because other kids in my class were always better. I didn’t like to do it for fun anymore, I only painted or drew when I had to do it for a school assignment, and when I became an adult I never painted anymore. I even started to believe that I was not a creative person, purely because I couldn’t paint or draw very beautifully.

But when I was in my late twenties, I suddenly had an urge to paint again. I didn’t know there it came from, but I had this image in my head (of a woman) that I really, really wanted to paint. Of course, I hesitated for the first few days. I thought: ‘I haven’t painted in ages, I probably suck at it even more than I did before’ and: ‘What if I start and it doesn’t look at all like I had imagined, I would just want to burn it afterwards’.

No one has to know (yet)

But then I asked myself the question why I wanted to paint in the first place. Was it to please other people? To end up in a museum or make a lot of money of off it? No! I just had a very basic urge to be creative and no one even knew about it. So I decided to just paint for the sake of painting, and if I hated it afterwards and wanted to burn it I was totally ok to do that. As you can already guess: it actually turned out quite good. I also never painted again (though now I know I will, if I ever feel like it again).

Take something you liked doing as a child and the excitement you felt for it, and make it an example of how you are always allowed to go for what you want, just because you feel like it. At least right now, you are motivated and excited (something you could wish to feel later in life when you think about it again, and could regret not doing when you still had the urge and motivation), you have the momentum. And if you’re still a little hesitant to show the world what you’re made of, start by showing it only to yourself. It will just be like our little secret.

xx Coco