Don’t mistake activity with achievement.

John Wooden

We seem to accept the fact that we have a limited amount of physical energy. But we seem to forget that we also have a limited amount of mental energy as well. The best chess players in the world tend to be on the downhill slide around the age of 40. The general consensus among these great players is that they simply do not have the mental energy to consistently play chess at the highest levels anymore.

Albert Einstein had multiple sets of the same clothes so he would not have to use any mental resources making a decision about what to wear. There are reports that he also refused to memorize his phone number for the same reason. Perhaps he was on to something.

If you want to be at your best mentally, try these 10 simple suggestions:

1. Get a full night of rest. Nothing seems to recharge our brains, intellect, or emotions better than a good night’s sleep. A regular bedtime and wake up time can help to ensure you are getting enough sleep. Everyone has an optimum amount of sleep. Try to get yours each night.

2. Build in some routines. Routines eliminate a lot of decision-making. Pay your bills every Saturday afternoon. Have a morning routine from the moment your feet hit the floor until you are out of the front door. The more decisions you can eliminate, the more mental energy you will have for the things that really matter.

3. Mono-task: Study after study continue to show that multi-tasking is simply inefficient. It takes time and energy to switch from one task to another.

4. Give yourself regular breaks. Taking regular breaks results in getting more done. Even short breaks provide a mental and physical boost. A 15-minute break every 90 to 120 minutes seems to be best for most people. Experiment with different schedules.

5. Get some exercise. Exercise clears the mind. The exertion coupled with an activity that does not require a lot of thought seems to have a magical effect on our mental reserves.

6. Eat wisely. Digesting food requires a lot of energy. That’s why many people have brain-drain an hour or two after lunch. Avoid hard-to-digest foods and heavily processed foods. In addition, foods that wreak havoc with your blood sugar should also be avoided. Food choices can significantly affect how you feel.

7. Let go of the things that don’t really matter. If you have a limited amount of mental energy, it only makes sense to save it for the things that matter. Most things in life are simply not worth a lot of fuss. Save your attention for the big stuff.

8. Make your next day’s schedule before going to bed. When you start your day, it is much easier and more productive if you already know what you should be doing. Before going to sleep, make a list of things to do the following day. When you wake up, you already know the plan for the day.

9. Delegate. Save yourself for the critical issues. Assign tasks to others. Let your son take out the trash and give your employees additional responsibilities.

10. Monitor your self-talk. It is all too easy to wear ourselves out with negative thoughts. Keep your internal dialog positive and upbeat. This matters far more than most people realize.

Conserve and build your mental energy in every way possible. You will feel and perform better in all facets of your life. Pick a few ideas and incorporate them into your life. Albert Einstein took it seriously, and many thought he had a productive life.

Photo Credit: A Health Blog via Compfight cc