Two-Cent #001

Biohacking, Playtime, & Supercharging Focus
August 25, 2020

Good Evening Friends!

Welcome to the first rendition of Two-Cent Tuesday, my goal is to make this the most valuable email you get every week. I'm really excited for this— hope you enjoy!


Biohacking

Manipulating chemicals in your body to get a desired result. I've experimented with 2 recently:


1. Increasing productivity with cold showers


Why it works:

Spikes noradrenaline & beta-endorphins in the blood and increases release of noradrenaline in the brain. The spikes lead to sharpened focus and newfound energy. Great study on it here in the National Library of Medicine, according to the study cold showers are effective in beating depression too.


How I'm using it:

I use it as a ¨second wind¨ during my day. Typically towards 4/5pm my willpower and focus start to deteriorate. I plan my workouts between 4 and 5 then I get a shower after and turn it to freezing cold for the last 2-3 minutes. This gives me another 2-3 hours of focus juice when I'm running on E.


2. Expanding learning capacity and memory with Chinese club moss, Huperzia Serrata


Why it works:

Huperzine A is the active compound in Huperzia Serrata and it protects acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that acts as a messenger molecule in the brain. In plain english - it increases the amount of information you can learn in a set period of time. It works best for short term "brain boosts" like cramming for an exam or learning a language.


How I'm using it:

When I did the rapid language learning experiment in Argentina I took 200 mcg everyday for the first couple weeks. My brain turned into a dripping sponge, I soaked up everything I heard without even trying. I remembered phrases and words in Spanish that I didn't even remember hearing. I also think it's one of the reasons why I started dreaming in Spanish too. It's non-prescription so you can get it on Amazon.


Playtime

Play makes you smarter. You should play a game everyday.


Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute of Play, has built his entire life’s work around the science of play. In his TedTalk, Play is more than just fun, he explains that “play leads to brain plasticity, adaptability, and creativity.” He says, “nothing fires up the brain like play.”


The keyword is brain plasticity. Neuroplasticity is a measure of how quickly your brain can form new connections.  More neuroplasticity increases your ability to find innovative connections between seemingly unconnected things. When learning, play also increases retention. That’s why gamification in the educational field has become so popular, with the lead example being Duolingo.


Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are notorious for playing their signature game, Bridge, at least an hour everyday.


All work and no play will, indeed, make Jack a dull boy.


Supercharging Focus

A Microsoft study found that since the year 2000 (start of the digital revolution) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. Parallel that with the attention span of a goldfish: 9 seconds.


A lot of the top tech companies' (aka F.A.N.G.) business models are driven by monetizing attention. In other words-- how long they can keep you on their platform = more revenue, usually through ads. We are constantly being pinged by notifications and ads, it’s no wonder we get distracted so easily.


So how do we combat that and improve our attention span? I've found these tactics to be effective:


1. Utilize a "Timed-lockbox"

Put something in and set the timer. Box doesn't open until time is up.


Why this works:

Eliminates options. When you eliminate options you remove the possibility in your head. This helps with your brain's reasoning and once it is trained to realize that distractions aren't a possibility you'll find yourself in deep focus for hours at a time without fleeting thoughts to check something. This also removes the need to expend willpower to not use something.


How I'm using it:

I've used it for vices, my phone, video games etc. It's been PHENOMENAL for my focus and my ability to sit down and get shit done. I usually put my phone in at the beginning of the day and set the timer to open at the end of the work day.


2. Batching

Batching is the process of grouping together certain things into a set period of time so that you aren’t tempted to check them frequently throughout the day. Best examples are phone, email, social media etc.


Why this works:

Batching compartmentalizes your attention and trains your brain not to act on every fleeting urge that enters your mind. Instead of allowing yourself to be pulled in 79 different directions that are calling for your attention throughout the day, you only focus on the 1–2 things that are most important and see them to completion. This is a training exercise and does take time to get good at.

How I'm using it:

Right now I try to batch phone and email. For physical things, the timed lockbox is great. For digital things, like social media and frantic email checking, Cold Turkey software is my favorite. It's a free site blocker that has helped me a lot. My batch period is usually from 6-7pm right now where I check phone and email.

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