Archive for the ‘self improvemnet’ Category

Keep Time On Your Side

November 16, 2013

Being able to manage time effectively can help reduce stress, improve productivity and give us a sense of having control over our lives.

There are any number of strategies you can experiment with to help you manage your time well whether you are a student, parent, retiree, self-employed, or a corporate executive. Here is just a sampling:

  • Focus on the big picture. Have and follow a personal mission statement and check occasionally to be sure that your activities are you helping you achieve your goals.
  • Get organized. Utilize time-saving tools such as appointment calendars, to-do lists, file folders.
  • Plan your day ahead of time. Prioritize daily tasks and keep a schedule of daily activities to minimize conflicts and last-minute rushes.
  • Do the most difficult work first, perhaps breaking it up with some easier tasks.
  • Say no to nonessential tasks. Consider your goals and schedule before agreeing to take on additional work.
  • Break large, time-consuming tasks into smaller tasks. Work on them a few minutes at a time until you get them all done.
  • Limit distractions. Block out time on your calendar for big projects. During that time, close your door and turn off your phone and email.
  • Take a break when needed. Too much stress can derail your attempts at getting organized. When you need a break, take one. Take a walk. Do some quick stretches at your workstation.
  • Be flexible—The unexpected happens (sickness, car troubles, etc.); you need to be able to fit it into your schedule.
  • Know who and when to ask for help when needed.

Optiminds’ customized programs include time management training, as well as life strategy skills, problem solving and critical thinking.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at: optimindsct.com.

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Everyday Tips for Maintaining and Improving Your Brain

March 25, 2013

Spring is here and it’s a great time to sweep out the mental cobwebs and get your brain in shape. Here are some tips you can implement every day to keep you and your brain on track.

  • Appreciate your brain as a living, constantly changing entity.
  • Nourish your brain with good food. The brain weighs only 2 percent of body mass but consumes over 20 percent of the oxygen and nutrients we take in. The benefits of eating well extend to your brain as well as your body.
  • Your brain benefits from physical activity. Physical exercise enhances neurogenesis, which is the growth of new neurons in the brain.
  • Think positive, future-oriented thoughts. Eventually, they will become your default mindset. Stress and anxiety can kill neurons and subdue the growth of new neurons.
  • Challenge yourself mentally. The point of having a brain is to learn and adapt to new environments. Once you grow new neurons, where and how long they survive in your brain depends on how you use them.
  • Aim high. Always keep learning. The brain keeps developing , no matter your age, and it reflects what you do with it.
  • Be an explorer and traveler. Adapting to new locations forces you to pay more attention to your environment and make new decisions.
  • Don’t outsource your brain to media personalities, politicians or other people. Make your own decisions and your own mistakes—and learn from them.
  • Develop and maintain stimulating friendships. Humans are social animals and need social interaction to thrive.
  • Laugh often, especially to cognitively complex humor.

Above all, practice. Practicing these suggestions every day will turn them into internalized, unstoppable habits.

Concerned about maintaining your mental capacity? Check out our Optiminds Brain fitness programs that take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells, plus improving cognitive and concentration power. Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Call us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Try These Mind Games for Mental Fitness

February 15, 2013

brainexercising1If, like many of us, you are a little nervous about your ability to remember things or stay focused on a project or activity, here are a few exercises you might want to try to keep your brain’s cognitive functions—memory, attention, language, visual/spatial skills and executive function—in good shape.

  • When listening to music, choose a song you don’t know and memorize the lyrics. This boosts the level of acetylcholine, the chemical that helps build your brain.
  • Shower or get dressed in the dark, or use your opposite hand to brush your teeth. These changes help build new associations between different neural connections of the brain.
  • Change your route to work or reorganize your desk. These simple changes will force your brain to wake up from habits and pay attention again.
  • Combine activities like listening to an audio book with jogging, or doing math in your head while you drive. This will force your brain to work at doing more in the same amount of time
  • Walk into a room and pick out five items and their locations. When you exit the room, try to recall all five items and where they were located. Wait two hours and try to remember those items and their locations.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at www.optimindsct.com.

The Leadership Benefits of Reading

February 8, 2013

Deep, broad reading habits are often a defining characteristic of our greatest leaders.

Steve Jobs is said to have had an “inexhaustible interest” in William Blake. Winston Churchill won his Nobel prize in Literature, not Peace). President Harry S. Truman read every book in the library named after him in his hometown of Independence, MO, before he died in 1972.

Many business titans are or have been avid readers, believing that reading cultivates the knowledge, habits, and talents to improve their organizations, as well as their own personal effectiveness.

A larger vocabulary, more world knowledge and abstract reasoning skills are just a few of the leadership benefits of reading. Reading is one of the quickest ways to acquire and assimilate new information; and reading a wide variety of things is good for creativity, exposing leaders to insights in other fields that might lead to innovations in their organizations.

Reading novels can improve empathy and understanding of social cues, allowing a leader to better work with and understand others. Reading can also increase verbal intelligence, making a person more adept and articulate when communicating with others.

You might want to try reading one book this year in three areas outside your comfort zone. If you are working on a problem in one field, seek out books in other fields to see if there are applications that might cross over to your profession. Share favorite books with co-workers to encourage discussion and new ideas.

If improving your reading is on your agenda this year, Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds offers customized programs to help readers of all ages improve their skills and comprehension.

To learn more about Optiminds brain training and tutoring programs, call us today at (248) 496-0150 or email Dr. Jane Steward directly at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at www.optimindsct.com.

Holiday Gifts to Improve Cognitive Function

December 22, 2012

If you’re looking for gifts this holiday season that might help a loved one who is trying to improve their cognitive skills, you might want to look into some of the ideas that follow.

  • Crossword puzzle or Sudoku books
  • Hand-held video games such as Solitaire, or Bingo
  • Board games like Tri-ominos, Scrabble, jigsaw puzzles with large pieces, or games such as Life Stories or Reminisce.
  • Books on Tape or MP3 players

You can also go a step further and treat a loved one to an Optiminds program in 2013.

If you have a senior citizen on your list to Optiminds’ Senior Brain Fitness Classes, which we conduct weekly at our Southfield location. The price is a mere $10 per session. Give us a call at 248-496-0150 for current times and days.

Each summer, Optiminds holds its popular Cognitive Camp at Royal Oak’s Addams Elementary School. Camp sessions are available by the day or week beginning in late June through mid-August. Check with our office for prices and schedule for 2013.

And of course, you can always treat yourself or students in your family to Optiminds’ tutoring services to give you and them an academic boost that will pay off for years to come.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at http://www.optimindsct.com.

Our Amazing, changing Brains

February 20, 2012

Source: “Brain Plasticity:  How learning changes your brain” by Dr. Pascale Michelon 

The human brain has the amazing ability to reorganize itself (plasticity) by forming new connections between brain cells (neurons). This ability is called neuroplasticity.

Some examples of when neuroplasticity occurs in the brain include the following:

  • At the beginning of life, when the immature brain organizes itself
  • When brain injury occurs, to compensate for lost functions or to maximize remaining functions
  • Throughout adulthood whenever something new is learned and memorized

Factors affecting our brain’s plasticity include genetic factors, the environment we live in and our actions. Neuroplasticity allows brain activity associated with a function to move to a different location as the result of normal experience, brain damage or recovery. Our brains compensate for damage by reorganizing and forming new connections between intact neurons. In order to reconnect, the neurons need to be stimulated through activity.

Research shows that the brain never stops changing through learning. When you become an expert in a specific domain, the areas in your brain that deal with this type of skill grow. For example, the left inferior parietal cortex of the brain is larger in people who are bilingual than in people who only speak one language. Gray matter volume is also higher in musicians than in non-musicians, etc.

If you are interested in growing your brain, Optiminds can help you improve your cognitive skills—the underlying brain skills that make it possible for us to think, remember and learn.

Optiminds is a tutoring company service in Southfield Michigan. Working with students of all ages in Metro Detroit, West Bloomfield, Bingham Farms, Redford, Huntington Woods and more.  We are a professional tutoring service featuring Reading Tutoring, Summer Tutoring, ACT Review Classes, Academic Tutoring and Dementia Help.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the study, reading and cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Be a Seeker of New Things

February 13, 2012

One way to continue to improve your cognitive skills is to seek out novelty. It’s no accident that geniuses have a tendency to constantly seek out novel activities and learn new domains. Einstein, for example, was skilled in multiple areas.

When you seek novelty, several things are going on. First of all, you are creating new synaptic connections with every new activity you engage in. These connections build on each other, increasing your neural activity, creating more connections to build on other connections—learning is taking place.

Novelty also triggers dopamine, which not only kicks motivation into high gear, but it stimulates neurogenesis—the creation of new neurons—and prepares your brain for learning. All you need to do is feed the hunger.

Researchers in Sweden found that after 14 hours of training working memory over 5 weeks’ time, study participants showed an increase in the dopamine receptor associated with neural growth and development. This increase in plasticity, allowing greater binding of this receptor, is a very good thing for maximizing cognitive functioning.

So it pays to continually seek new activities to engage your mind and expand your cognitive horizons. Learn an instrument. Take an art class. Go to a museum. Read about a new area of science. Be a knowledge junkie. 

If you are interested in growing your brain, Optiminds can help you improve your cognitive skills—the underlying brain skills that make it possible for us to think, remember and learn.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the study, reading and cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Tips for Improving Your Vocabulary–Part 2

January 26, 2012

In our January 16 blog post, we posted the first part of some great tips for improving your vocabulary. Here we present five more great tips to help you strengthen and polish your vocabulary. Most importantly, you should pick the methods that YOU enjoy the most, and use them regularly as you take your vocabulary to new levels of success. 

Five More Tips for a Better Vocabulary

  •  Circle or highlight words in your dictionary. The next time you happen to visit that page, you’ll be unconsciously reviewing the word you learned last time.
  •  Subscribe to a word of the day service. Be sure to use your new word the same day. Share it with a friend whenever you can.
  •  Try out new word games, and find friends to play them with regularly.
  • Be goal-oriented; have specific targets to hit as you build your vocabulary, and be sure to reward yourself when you achieve them.
  • Use your imagination when you learn a new word; play with it and bring it to life in your mind. This is how children learn and you can do the same. It will help you remember your new words almost effortlessly.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the study, reading and cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Tips for Improving Your Vocabulary–Part 1

January 16, 2012

Have you ever been in a conversation with a peer or boss and didn’t understand what they said due to a deficiency in vocabulary? For most of us, it can be a bit embarrassing to have to ask what a word means in every day conversation. A good vocabulary can serve you well throughout life—whether writing a paper for school or dealing with your boss or coworkers.  

We now know that the brain continues to grow and regenerate throughout adulthood, so there is nothing stopping any of us creating a killer vocabulary at any age. And there are a number of easy things you can do without resorting to trying to memorize the dictionary! Whether you’re a student taking graduation exams or just an ordinary person trying to improve your vocabulary, you can slowly build the necessary skills and increase your word usage during everyday conversations.  

When you start to work on building your vocabulary, it’s really important to have fun. Having a great vocabulary, and constantly building it, is something that can be a very beneficial habit rather than a chore.  

Following are the first five of the top ten suggestions for ways to build your vocabulary enjoyably. The remaining five suggestions will be posted in our January 26 blog post. 

Five Suggestions for Improving Your Vocabulary

 Find things you enjoy reading. Read widely, perhaps trying out reading material that is in a different style than you would normally pick. But don’t force yourself to read material that genuinely bores you. 

  • Look out for new words as you read. Make a game of guessing at their meaning, then looking them up to see if you were right. You can learn a lot about a word from the context in which it is used, but it’s important to make sure you get the correct definition as well. 
  • Listen for new words when people speak. Remember them and look them up later. Or better still, ask when you don’t know what they mean. Most people will love to share their knowledge and will think better of you for wanting to learn than if you just pretend to understand. 
  • Use one of the powerful software products available today to train yourself in important vocabulary power words in a fraction of the time it would take you by more old-fashioned means.
  • When you learn a new word, find an opportunity to practice it as soon as possible. If you don’t find a conversation to use it in, how about using it in an email to a friend? Or you could even just use it when you talk to yourself!

 Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the study, reading and cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Optiminds Programs Make Great Gifts

December 20, 2011

When you are making up your Christmas list, why not consider giving an Optiminds program to a friend or loved one? We offer cognitive training programs for all ages—from Math Strategies for kindergarteners to Brain Fitness for seniors.

So if you know someone who needs a little help with test taking, memory improvement, reading or math, we can create a customized Optiminds program to get their year off to a great start. Here are just some of the targeted areas for which we can create a customized Optiminds program:

  • Boomers Brain Fitness
  • Study Skills
  • Test Prep
  • Problem Solving
  • ACT and SAT test help
  • Speed Reading
  • Time Management
  • Critical Thinking
  • Tutoring
  • Home School
  • Initiation
  • Abstract Reasoning
  • Improve Cognitive Skills
  • Faster & Easier Information Processing

We’ll identify problem issues and design a variety of tasks that incorporate Mental Exercises, Visualization Techniques and Computerized Drills—plus recommendations on diet and physical exercise. We also develop Life Strategies programs for individuals of all ages.

Give us a call today for more information! Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping people of all ages improve their cognitive and memory skills. Find out more about Optiminds programs by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.


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