You can take your kid to work. There’s a special day for that. You can take your dog to work. Many companies allow it every day. But what about taking your brain to work? That’s strictly optional.
For 99% of what you do, you really can operate on automatic. You arrive at work, you turn off your brain, and next thing you know, you’re done for the day.
Unfortunately, while your brain’s been coasting, the brains of computers and other sinister technology tools have gotten smarter. If you keep hearing about “AI,” there’s a reason for it. Their artificial intelligence is so much better than our genuine intelligence that the latest accessory to your smartphone may soon be you.
Which is why I was relieved to come across “How to Maintain a Healthy Brain,” a lifesaver of an article by Kailas Roberts on psyche.co.
Roberts, an Australian psychologist, wants to help you tune up and turn up that turnip sitting on your shoulders. And you don’t want to dillydally.
“You should anticipate some decline in ‘brain-power’ as you grow older,” he warns, “potentially as early as your 30s.”
You can already see your sluggish brain floundering when you can’t remember important facts, like where you left the keys to the Tesla. This is especially disconcerting when you remember you don’t actually own a Tesla. There is also, Roberts finds, a “deterioration in ‘executive skills.'”
Personally, I think he’s wrong about that. Look at management in your company. The key executive skills — showing off, goofing off and blaming others for your mistakes — just keep improving over time.
If you do decide to try working with your brain turned on, here’s what to do:
No. 1: Nourish your brain.
Even considering the fatheads you work with, the brain accounts for only 2% of your body weight yet uses 20% of your body’s energy requirements. To feed the brain, you want to adopt a Mediterranean diet, which requires you to cut back on red meat and increase your intake of green leafy vegetables, fish and legumes.
The good news is that there are ways to nourish your brain without trading the triple-cheeseburger lunches that make surviving the workday possible for bowls of boiled beet greens. Green M&M’s are practically a vegetable, while keeping a tropical fish tank in your office is not only a soothing distraction from the pressures of the job, but it also provides an easy way to grab a healthy snack. There’s nothing the brain likes better than a tasty guppy.
No. 2: Train your brain.
Simple, predictable and easy — that’s the way you like your day to go. Your brain thinks differently. According to cognitive scientists, your brain thrives on complexity, novelty and “doing things your brain is not used to.”
It may be difficult for you to accept, but you may actually have to take on more complex projects. This will please your brain but be careful before implementing a major push. Management does not want you to rock the boat with flashy demonstrations of competence. It just makes them look bad.
No. 3: Train your body.
In order to energize your brain, you have to exercise your body. Experts recommend “at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week.”
Obviously, with all the new Estonian detective shows streaming on Netflix, you will want to limit your exercise to the time you are in the office. You can accomplish this with HIIT, or high-intensity interval training. Because you are “training near the limits of your cardiovascular capacity for a sustained period,” HIIT only requires 75 minutes a week.
To do HIIT at work, simply stand up at your desk, wave your hands in the air and shout, “It’s not my fault!” Then, with high intensity, sit down again. Do this 75 times a week, and you will not only turbopower your brain, but your annoying co-workers will be so freaked out they will never come near you again.
No. 4: Protect your brain.
You wouldn’t take a spin on a bicycle without head protection, so why go to a staff meeting without a helmet? If you don’t want to spend the money on a high-tech helmet, make your own out of aluminum foil. Guaranteed your invitations to meetings will dwindle away and you’ll never again have to waste your brain, trapped in a conference room.
I say — let the computers go to the meetings if they’re so smart. In the meantime, please pass the guppies.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at [email protected] To find out more about Bob Goldman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.