Quick thinking is important, but sheer processing speed is often worth less than accuracy Precision of thought. Learn 14 ways to think faster and more efficiently in this post .
Do you often feel that it takes you longer to complete tasks than your work colleagues?? Do you feel like it takes you longer to absorb new information or read a book ? Are you the last one in your class to finish an exam ?
If these difficulties sound familiar, you might be interested in how to think faster .
Thinking faster – what are the benefits?
Most people associate fast thinking with higher intelligence . This is not necessarily true, but there are still many reasons why it would be helpful and beneficial to think faster .
Thinking faster can help you in many areas of life:
-When people are required to think quickly, they report feeling happier, more energetic, more creative, and more confident . ( 1 )
-Thinking faster can improve skills critical to success such as planning, goal setting, problem solving, and the ability to focus on tasks . ( 2 )
-Knowing that you have a quick mind can help you feel more confident in conversations with customers or clients or in presentations at work . In addition, research confirms that people who think fast are seen as more charismatic by others . ( 3 )
-Thinking faster can make you a better student who completes homework and exams faster .
-If you play sports, faster reaction times can lead to better athletic performance .
-The ability to think faster can make you a safer driver .
-Developing a quicker mind can help you stay mentally fit as you age .
Some reasons why your thinking isn’t as fast as you’d like it to be
If you’re not thinking as fast as you’d like, it may be due to a variety of health and lifestyle factors .
Diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure and other vascular risk factors can deprive the brain of oxygen and glucose, leading to slowed thinking . ( 4 )
Slow thinking can be a lingering consequence of a traumatic brain injury or stroke, or a sign of multiple sclerosis, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease . ( 5 , 6 ) It is also a common symptom of depression . ( 7 ) Many prescription drugs can also slow down your thinking .
Antianxiety medications and antidepressants can interfere with your ability to think quickly .
A group of drugs known as anticholinergics block the activity of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter for memory and learning . Anticholinergic medications slow brain activity, which can lead to memory loss and mental confusion .
Most anticholinergics start with "anti," such as z.B. antihistamines, antidepressants, antipsychotics, antibiotics, antispasmodics or antihypertensives .
If you suspect that one of your medications is affecting your thinking, here’s a list of anticholinergic medications to review .
Your thinking speed can also be a factor of your age .
Thinking is slower in childhood, then increases in teenage years and young adulthood, stabilizes in middle age, and finally decreases in older years .
A clinical study of twins found that genes also play a big role in mental processing speed . ( 8 )
Thinking fast vs. efficient, accurate thinking
Your ability to think fast depends on the processing speed of your brain .
Processing speed is defined as the time it takes your brain to take in new information, make a judgment about it, and then formulate a response.
This input may be visual, auditory, or from one of your other senses.
For most people, efficiency and accuracy of thought, not speed, are the limiting factors .
Therefore, the more important goal is to learn how to think more efficiently and accurately, rather than simply faster.
There is always an interplay between speed and accuracy, which psychologists call the "speed-accuracy tradeoff". This is good news for all those if you are not naturally blessed with the ability to think quickly .
Even if your thinking sometimes feels slow, it can still be more efficient and accurate, which is more important in many cases. Thinking fast doesn’t do you much good if you don’t think clearly, accurately, or logically.
Under certain circumstances, thinking fast can actually be your undoing, because fast-thinking people are more likely to engage in risky behaviors than those who think more deliberately and slowly . ( 10 )
14 ways to think faster
So we have seen that the speed of thinking is not the only factor that determines the quality of your thinking.
Here are some of the best ways to make your thinking not only faster, but also more efficient and accurate .
1. Make small, unimportant decisions quickly
For example, the next time you go out to eat, challenge yourself to choose your meal in one minute or less.
Don’t worry if you don’t choose wisely, because the consequences are minor. If you really want to make a decision quickly, flip a coin . ( 11 ) You may be subconsciously hoping for a certain outcome. In this case, the coin toss will help you figure out what you really want. (This is not recommended for important life-changing decisions! )
2. Practice doing things you are good at faster
If you play music, learn songs with a faster tempo. When solving puzzles (like crosswords or Sudoku) or playing games like chess, set a timer to force yourself to work faster. Set a timer to see how quickly you can complete a simple task like cleaning your desk or preparing a meal. You should not try this technique on things you are learning, as you will only get frustrated faster .
3. Reduce your multitasking
It is human nature that we are not multitaskers.
Your brain can’t focus on two tasks at the same time, so instead it quickly switches back and forth between tasks.
It’s well documented that trying to multitask can hurt your productivity and reduce mental performance, attention span, and learning ability . ( 12 , 13 )
Get into the habit of doing one task at a time, to which you can give your undivided attention. Focusing attention on one thing at a time is the key to more effective learning and remembering .
4. Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is one of the most important requirements for optimal brain function. Lack of sleep has a negative effect on the speed and accuracy of thinking . ( 14 ) Even a moderate loss of sleep can affect your mental performance just as much as when you are drunk ! ( 15 )
5. Stay cool
The latest research shows that mental processing speed decreases as temperature increases.
The ideal temperature for optimal thinking seems to be around 22 degrees . ( 16 )
A regular meditation practice can provide increased brain power by promoting the formation of new neural connections and stimulating the brain’s neural plasticity.
Meditation strengthens communication between brain cells, which in turn can speed up mental processing, increase your ability to learn, and improve your ability to concentrate . ( 17 )
7. Play an instrument
Musicians have larger, better connected and more symmetrical brains . ( 18 , 19 )
A musical education improves processing speed, cognitive skills and working memory . ( 20 ) This is why it can be useful if you are trying to learn to play an instrument.
8. Give your brain a mental workout
While any intellectually challenging effort can help you stay mentally fit, there is evidence that the right kind of brain training is especially good for thinking even faster.
The IMPACT study, conducted by scientists at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Southern California, found that BrainHQ’s original brain training program increased auditory processing by 131% . ( 21 )
There are many posts about how their Brain HQ exercises can lead to faster processing speed . ( 22 )
9. Be socially active
Communicating via social media, messenger or email, allows you to think through difficult answers again because you don’t have to respond immediately. When you communicate face-to-face rather than digitally, you’re forced to think faster .
10. Do regular aerobic exercise
Exercise can help you think and learn faster, concentrate and remember better . ( 23 , 24 , 25 ) A huge study of over 1 million men found that exercise can actually increase IQ . ( 26 ) All exercises are good for your brain, but especially activities like walking, jogging, swimming or cycling can provide improvement in processing speed . ( 27 )
11. Increase your dopamine levels
If you feel mentally slow, you may have low levels of the brain chemical dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for motivation, productivity and attention. People who think faster than average often have dopamine levels in their brains . ( 28 , 29 )
12. Chew gum
Simply chewing gum can increase mental precision and have positive effects on reaction time and concentration.
This is thought to be due to the fact that chewing gum increases oxygen levels in the brain regions responsible for attention . ( 30 )
13. Have your hearing and vision checked
Most information enters the brain through your eyes and ears .
So either hearing problems or vision problems can significantly affect your ability to process information quickly .
15 Food supplements that promote faster thinking
The following supplements can have a positive effect on the speed and precision of your thinking.
Acetyl-l-carnitine (ALCAR) is an amino acid that is the precursor to acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter for memory and learning.
It improves processing speed, mental clarity, and memory, and also functions as a fast-acting natural antidepressant . ( 31 , 32 )
Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) is a traditional brain tonic known to reduce stress and anxiety, promote mental energy and clarity, and protect the brain from aging.
Research on Bacognize, a patented brand of Bacopa, has shown that it has a positive effect on processing speed, focus, short-term memory, and mood .
3. Black cumin
Black cumin (Nigella sativa) is a culinary spice used in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine.
It is also used as an herbal remedy that has some benefits in increasing processing speed . ( 33 )
4. Branched Chain Amino Acids
Branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements contain a mixture of amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) normally taken to increase muscle mass. Taking a BCAA supplement may also have a positive impact on mental acuity . ( 34 )
Caffeine, the most widely used psychoactive drug, speeds up your cognition in many ways, including improving mental processing speed and accuracy . ( 35 , 36 )
If you use caffeine, keep in mind that too much caffeine can be counterproductive, as it can increase stress, anxiety, and insomnia.
All of these conditions can affect your ability to think faster .
6. CDP choline
CDP Choline is a naturally occurring fat that increases mental energy and protects the brain from damage, toxins and aging.
CDP choline can increase processing speed, working memory, verbal learning, and verbal memory . ( 37 )
7. Fish oil
Fish oil is usually taken for heart health, but it’s just as important for your brain.
Fish oil can improve mood, memory and processing accuracy . ( 38 )
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is one of the most popular herbal remedies in the world . ( 39 ) It has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a brain tonic. It improves both processing speed and accuracy . If you are looking for a supplement that is rich in ginkgo and can provide an increase in concentration and thinking ability then you should give the Cloudminded Upgrade a try.
9. Lion’s Mane
The Lion’s Mane ( Hericium erinaceus ) is both an edible mushroom and a nutritional supplement for the brain.
It helps rebuild myelin, a protective layer that surrounds nerve fibers and speeds communication between brain cells . ( 40 , 41 )
10. Lutein and zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants found in the eye that promote visual processing speed, an important component in visual learning . ( 42 )
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a fat-soluble amino acid found in high concentrations in the brain.
It is an integral component of healthy brain cell membranes.
PS normalizes levels of important neurotransmitters and stress hormones and may increase both processing speed and processing accuracy . ( 43 )
Phosphatidylserine works synergistically with ginkgo, so this is a combination you may want to take together . ( 44 )
12. Rhodiola Rose
Rhodiola rose is a traditional herb used to increase physical stamina, mental vitality and longevity.
It is considered an adaptogen, a substance that increases tolerance to both psychological and physiological stress.
Research shows it improves processing accuracy, attention, and reaction time . ( 45 )
Vinpocetine is a synthetic version of vincamine, a naturally occurring compound found in the periwinkle plant (Vinca minor) that increases both processing speed and accuracy . ( 46 )
It works by increasing blood flow, protecting against oxidative damage, reducing brain inflammation and balancing neurotransmitter levels . ( 47 , 48 , 49 )
14. Vitamin D
Low levels of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, have been linked to slower thinking and poorer cognitive function, especially in seniors . ( 50 )
15. Vitamin K
Vitamin K helps increase the brain’s processing speed . ( 51 , 52 )
It is found mainly in green leafy vegetables and also in extra virgin olive oil.
A proprietary formulation of blueberry, carnosine, green tea and vitamin D3 significantly increased processing speed during a 2-month trial period . ( 53 )
The patented nutrient blend is sold under the brand name NT-020 and is a key ingredient in select brain supplements .
Food and supplements that make you think slow down
There are a few substances that slow down your thinking that you might want to avoid.
Sugar in excessive amounts slows down the communication between brain cells . ( 54 )
And finally, it should come as no surprise that alcohol slows down your reaction time and your thinking . ( 54)
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Hey, I’m Niels and Founder of Cloud Minded.
For the past 10 years I have been working hard on nutrition, fitness, biohacking and supplements to improve my performance on all levels. On Cloud Minded I now write regularly about these topics to share my findings with you.