Hack your Cognitive Performance
It’s something that I spent a lot of time, energy and resources pursuing. My ambition growing up was to be a pro golfer and the compelling thing about golf compared to other sports is that physicality isn’t necessarily an advantage. The real advantage was mental performance, so from a very young age I become obsessed with optimizing my mental performance and efficiency. The golf thing didn’t work out but it was a natural fit that I would go on to build startups that were all about; Cognitive preparation, optimization, leading to productively efficient outcomes. Of course, on my journey I tried and tested everything that might help with my cognitive performance and that’s what I’m going to share with in this blog post…
Like 100 Million other Americans my pursuit towards enhanced focus and productivity started with coffee. Tea was my first caffeine fix but coffee came into the mix and it was a game changer. Coffee, completely changed my energy levels and I immediately felt ready to take on the world. Like most humans, when I discover something I like, I binge out. I soon found myself unable to focus on anything at all so I decided to test out what the optimal coffee intake was per day. After a few weeks of testing I discovered that a coffee at 8am and a 2nd at 1:30pm gave me the best performance. Quantifying ‘best’ when it comes to cognitive performance is a formula that neuroscientists are still searching for.
During my coffee test I discovered that coffee is actually a nootropic, given it’s a very basic one I was compelled to learn more.
What is a nootropic? “Nootropics, a greek word meaning ‘Towards the Mind’, are compounds that are both (1) neurologically active and (2) directly or indirectly enhances cognitive potential via increased capabilities (ie. reflexes), state of well being, or learning potential” Essentially, people use them to enhance memory or other cognitive functions. Sound familiar? Yes, 100 million people use nootropics every single day, coffee. However, there are better ones available. The best analogy I can think of for nootropics is dieting, you can’t just have 1 green juice for 1 day and expect to be healthy or lose weight, it takes consistency before you see results and nootropics is exactly the same. It was around week 2 when i really started to notice the effect, other people I spoke with said less time and others said more. However, I really enjoyed the benefits. Tasks that i would normally procrastinate on I found myself jumping right into, like laundry I would normally put off until I had no clothes left but on nootropics I would simply get it done without really thinking. A really compelling mind state.
Music is a part of everyone’s life and without having quantifiable evidence I think it’s safe to say that music can have a profound affect on a person’s mental state. I’m guilty of letting my mood determine what music I listen to which in term exaggerates my mood, whether that be good or bad. Humans are inefficient by nature so it comes as no surprise that a person’s mood can be inconvenient, bad moods coming on at the wrong place, wrong time, happens to all of us. I wanted to force myself to listen to positive music when I was in a bad mood and see the outcome. It was actually amazing and something that took me a while to achieve because I didn’t have the discipline to change the music over at first. We have all been in a bad mood in the car when someone puts on happy upbeat music and it actually makes you more angry, but i found that if you surfice for a little while you actually start to feel better. Amazing. Touch Surgery are preparing a playlist on spotify, built from surgeons around the world suggesting songs that they listen to in the operating theatre that gives them the optimal mental state for an operation. If it’s good enough for Surgeons, it’s good enough for me.
App’s and Technology:
In a recent Touch Surgery blog post it said “If this is true the habit of constant mobile phone use is creating a strong subconscious prioritisation. Therefore, concentration will be peaked when we are looking through mobile devices”… I found this particularly compelling to think about as I do generally remember what I see on my phone over any newspaper or book I would glance over and to clarify I’m part of this generation of mobile phone addicts. Touch Surgery, being an educational app, were determined to quantify the viability of using their platform over the traditional methods and had great success in proving their theory; Study 1, Study 2, Study 3
User engagement with technology is an all time high and we are past the point of no return. Touch Surgery, managed to quantify their performance and I encourage others to do the same. It’s all about testing and finding the lifestyle fit that gives you access to the best cognitive outcomes… Happy hacking!