Our ability to think about simple or abstract ideas, to learn or remember, and assess problems is reflected in our responses on intelligence tests, the most well-known of which may be the IQ test. IQ, intelligence quotient, has a broad range. The population as a whole believes that performance on IQ or other intelligence tests does not vary, that is, performance cannot change with circumstances. Admittedly, an IQ under 60, which suggests severe intellectual challenges, could likely never be changed to an IQ over 130, or near genius levels, by any kind of intervention. However, sizable changes in performance may come with serious effort to improve focus, background knowledge and practice in thinking about and improving performance on some kinds or problems. The IQ test, or any kind of intelligence test, requires a clear-headed performance in order to demonstrate your capability clearly. Indeed, most people who take an intelligence test are presumably prepared to take it, but all kinds of problems could intervene to diminish performance. I would suggest that we are rarely at our best when we take any kind of test. If we are not at our best, we will likely under-perform.
There are many practices that may improve performance, and we can see logically what many of those may be. If we work on those strategies, performances improve on any task over what it may have been without attention to those practices. The spirit of this review of how you can expect to improve performance is not simply to improve how you might perform on intelligence tests, but rather to see if we can consistently improve performance when life tests us on any particular matter at any time. We would all like to improve the quality of our decisions. Our intelligence, practical thinking skills, or our ability to reflect on issues that confront us, are all important. There are not always easy ways available to us to treat life’s problems. It is nevertheless generally believed that improvements in our skills are possible, and there are ways we can all work on this.
1. Reduce television and other mindless distractions. Use the time to read a book or write something. Whether you read a newspaper or review news headlines or news commentary online, you may want to spend a few minutes on wordplay or numbers sections in newspapers and possibly work a crossword or solve the Sudoku. Of course, you don’t have to do all of this every day.
2. Eat well, but not to excess. Most will need to increase protein and decrease carbohydrate consumption and perhaps eats smaller portions more often during the day. The reader may want to review some relevant eating and exercise posts on this blog during January, 2012.
3. Exercise — use small weights to concentrate in alternate days on legs, abdominal or upper body muscles. 20 min a day is more than adequate. Walk or run if you can, every day. You have many other aerobic exercises to choose from. Again, 15-20 min per day is more than adequate. Drink more water–especially after or during exercise — especially if it is heavy exercise. Most people do not drink enough water. If you are at or near your target weight, then about 6 eight ounce glasses of water is about right.
4. Go to bed early and get up early. Watch the sun rise or just sit quietly and think about the day. Make a short list of things you will tackle today, or just think about what you will do.
5. Read a challenging book and keep notes. Alternatively, keep a reading journal. When you can, apply ideas from books to solve problems in your own life.
6. Take time to reflect.