In this Knowledge Age that we live in, our ideas and intellect are worth much more than they were 10-20 years ago. 

As such, it is crucial that we try to maintain a sharp mind so that we can effectively solve complex problems, maintain optimism in the midst of challenging circumstances and communicate messages that are clear and insightful.

In considering this challenge, I have come up with 6 tips that I try to use to keep my mind focused and my thinking clear. 

Get plenty of sleep.  Sleep deprivation will certainly dull your thinking and as a father of three young kids, I know how challenging this one can be.  People who are extremely tired will have poorer decision-making skills, reduced concentration, will be less alert, have a diminished memory and be more irritable.  This isn’t a good combination.

There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to sharpen the mind and prepare you for a good day’s thinking.  It is recommended that adults get about 7-8 hours of restful sleep every night, so make sure that you get plenty of sleep, especially when you know that you have a big day the next day.

Drink water.  Our brains are mostly water and even mild dehydration can impact concentration, so keep drinking plenty of water to make sure that you can sustain your thinking power throughout the day.  It’s recommended that we should drink about 2 litres of water per day to maintain hydration.

Have intelligent conversations.  There are few things more mind-numbing than a conversation with people who are ignorant, pessimistic and refuse to grow and there are few things more stimulating to the mind than a conversation with people who are smarter than you.  If you want a sharp mind, be conscious of who you spend a lot of time with.

Read widely.  I’ve written a lot about the need to read if you want to be effective in this day and age, but in the context of keeping your mind sharp, it’s also important that you read from a broad range of authors and subjects. 

Like most people, I have my favourite writers who consistently inspire me, but the books that have really got me thinking have been those that I have had to wrestle with, sometimes in vehement disagreement.  One of my favourite series of books is the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series written by the late Douglas Adams.  Whilst these books, don’t have much in them to challenge the mind, he was a great intellect and an ardent atheist.  His book the Salmon of Doubt was published after his death and contained many of his beliefs about the absence of God.  As a Christian, reading his intelligent arguments challenged my ideas and sharpened my mind.  It really made me think and my faith is stronger for the experience.

Whilst I’m not recommending that everyone follow my exact lead, the point I’m making is that you shouldn’t just read from the same old safe books where you know what to expect.  Give your mind some exercise by reading something different and challenging.

Test what you’ve learned.  A great way to keep your mind alert is to break your routine and try something new.  If you’ve read something in a book or heard of a great idea from someone else, why not try it out?  Life rewards action and your mind will certainly be focused as you try to implement new concepts into your day.

Take regular breaks.  When I say “regular” breaks, I mean a variety of things.

To make sure that you are able to maintain your concentration throughout the day, it’s important that you step back and relax your mind every hour or so.  You may not think that you have the time for a break, but you’ll actually be more effective for it.  The principle of sharpening the saw is relevant here.

Taking a day off every week is also important.  I’ve been preparing for a message on the biblical principle of the Sabbath recently and better understand the necessity of taking a day away from your usual activities to restore your energy and regain your perspective.

In addition, it’s also important to take time off during the year.  Not just the occasional long weekend, but a reasonable chunk of time that allows your mind the chance to be sharpened and your ideas to begin to flow.

These are my 6 idea to help keep your mind sharp, I hope that they are helpful.

Do you have any ideas that you would like to share?

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