10 Easy Ways to Develop Your Intelligence in the Workplace

Reviewed by Melina Theodorou

Illustration of a woman holding her laptop and sitting on an over-sized pile of books

Is there a war on intelligence? It can often feel like we are incentivised to limit our mental faculties. When you look around the world, intelligence is seemingly not rewarded. Even at a personal level, the not-so-smart people at the office are promoted and paid more than you!

These trends should not discourage you from self-improvement. Remember, as Albert Einstein wrote, ‘The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.’ While the calm ocean of familiarity is reassuring and comfortable, it is an essential aspect of life to challenge your abilities and test yourself. In the process, you can accelerate your career growth and enjoy success thanks to your intelligence.

Does your brain feel jammed? These 10 easy tips will help you boost your intelligence at the workplace.

1. Monitor the Outcome of Your Ideas 

We all have ideas. We get hundreds of them every day. But the key question is: Are they workable?

The best way to determine the efficacy of your light-bulb moments is to monitor their outcomes from start to finish. By doing this, you can learn if what you think and how you implement your thoughts into action works. If your ideas lead to fruitful results at your job, then you can stay the course. However, if your ideas flounder, then it may be time to alter your thought process.

How can you enhance your thinking capacity? Here are some ways:

  • Ensure you get enough sleep every day.
  • Nourish your brain with healthy food and beverages.
  • Challenge age-old wisdom and think positive.
  • Boost your memory retainment.
  • Reduce errors in your thinking by practising empathy, thinking long-term, avoiding judgment and abandon adversarial thinking. These are all forms of emotional intelligence.

2. Engage in the Art of Conversation 

Let’s be honest: The art of conversation is dead. Texting, emoticons, emojis, and memes have dismantled verbal engagements between people. If you ever watch footage from old talk shows, you find that folks seemed a lot smarter back then. But why? More conversations.

Is it time to rejuvenate the art of conversation? You must if you wish to increase your intelligence. Rather than text a friend or email a colleague, try to communicate verbally as much as you can. The more you verbalise, the more active your brain will be, which gives you a better opportunity to demonstrate adaptability on the job.

A fallout of text-based communications is that your brain’s little grey cells, as the greater Hercule Poirot would say, diminish. How about we start talking again?

3. Enrol in Online Courses 

Wisdom is attained, not inherited. The only way to become a smarter individual is to learn continuously. This is how you feed your brain and improve your intelligence. So, moving forward, enrol in online courses that may or may not be related to your career development. These educational endeavours do not need to be linked to your job. Instead, they can just be of interest, or they can be something challenging.

Are you short of ideas? Here are some suggestions to maximise your smarts:

4. Drink More Water 

How much water do you think you consume in a day? Sorry, coffee and alcohol don’t count! If it is anything less than a few cups daily, then it might be time to increase your intake.

Your brain is mostly comprised of water, so drinking this liquid can lead to a myriad of health benefits such as improved concentration and cognition, balanced moods and emotions, and memory function. These are all the hallmarks of intelligence!

5. Automate Mundane Tasks 

Your job may be contributing to your cognitive decline more than the five hours you spent binge-watching your favourite series. Why? Too many brain-draining tasks. Every day, you are performing the same chores that neither contribute to the company’s productivity objectives nor enhance your human capital. Whether it is sorting emails or sending recurring invoices, you have way too many things that are time-killers.

A simple remedy to this common problem is to automate mundane tasks. By having these functions performed automatically, you can allocate your mental resources to projects that are harder to complete, which is great for your brainpower.

6. Take a Stroll Outside 

Health experts routinely recommend exercise to increase brain power. But unless your office possesses a gym, this might be hard for you to do. That said, the next best thing is to do some desk exercises or take a stroll around the office or outside, even for just ten minutes. Not only is this great for your mental health by having a breather, but walking has also been found to send pressure waves through the arteries and stimulate the supply of blood to the brain.

You will notice the immediate benefits after sitting down for three straight hours and then walking outside with a cup of coffee for half-an-hour.

7. Improve Your Concentration 

In today’s hyper-connected environment, staying on task can be as tricky as trying to finish a New York Times crossword puzzle on a crowded bus. Unfortunately, many of us have probably experienced a significant decline in our concentration as so many things compete for our attention.

That said, concentration is a component of your intelligence; it’s critical for learning new things, coming up with ideas, achieving your goals and doing well at your job. So, what’s for ultimate focus? Here are a handful of tips:

  • Shift your mental focus by setting goals, breaking tasks into smaller parts and taking short breaks.
  • Remove distractions around you, whether they’re social media apps or a game of Flappy Bird.
  • Eliminate multi-tasking; it may be counterintuitive but working on several tasks does more harm than good.
  • Live in the moment, be present and concentrate on what you’re doing now.

8. Take a Break 

There is nothing wrong with taking a short break. You are not unproductive or lazy. It’s comparable to going for a run and then taking a moment to breathe. You can’t just have your brain perpetually operating at full capacity. During your eight-hour day, it would be a good idea to take 10 minutes for every hour you work. It doesn’t need to be an elaborate break; you can sit at your desk and look out the window or stand up and stretch your muscles.

Any little thing that’ll allow your brain to catch up should be utilised.

9. Read More 

No, scanning through tweets and perusing a takeout menu don’t count as reading. We are talking about sitting on a comfortable chair, opening a book and reading from front to back. Like conversations, the art of reading is dying, which is probably the most tragic development of modern times. But you don’t need to contribute to its demise.

So, pick out a novel and use your free time during your lunch break or your commute to read. That’s all you need to do, and it’s a lot better than chatting with Billy, the intern or staring at your mobile device. By the end, you’ll probably capture a new habit – and that’s the greatest one of them all!

10. Don’t Forget to Breathe 

Right now, pause for a moment and notice your breathing. You are probably taking short breaths or not breathing at all! This has become far too common for a lot of people because of anxiety, a lack of rest and poor posture. By not breathing correctly, you are not maintaining a steady flow of oxygen to your brain, which places a barrier on your path to better intelligence.

When you are buried in work, it can be hard to remember to breathe the right way. But what’s the right way? Here’s how:

  • Sit up straight.
  • Contract your abdomen.
  • Breathe through your nose.
  • Release tension from upper neck, chest and shoulder muscles.
  • Maintain a breath rate of 10 to 12 breaths per minute.

We live in an information economy. Ascending to the top of the food chain is all about accumulating information, executing strategies to take full advantage of the data and then profiting from your efforts. 

Of course, to achieve this, you need to develop intelligence, which involves cultivating your thought process, enhancing your idea generation and improving your concentration. Is this impossible? Nope, but you may need to put down the channel changer and glass of wine and, instead, drink some water and read Crime and Punishment (the abridged edition, if you like).

Have you got any useful tips? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!