5 More Ways to Increase Your Intelligence

In the feedback on my original post, 5 Simple Ways to Make the Most of Your Intelligence, two of the most common comments were:

1. 5 ways aren’t nearly enough

2. Nothing works for everyone

I whole heartedly agree with both of these statements.

One reader even went as far as posting his/her own 5 Ways in the Reddit comment thread. I thought they were so good that I wanted to share with everyone else. Here they are:

1. Cultivate friendships with people who think differently. I enjoy talking to people who really challenge my conception of the world. Artists (I’m not one), medical staff (I’m not one), construction workers (I’m not one) and so on.

2. Get outside your own culture through travel, social gatherings, … Travel is great (but the hit on the environment is large, so…. do a few long trips rather than many short ones perhaps?) especially if you immerse locally. Going to Cuba and staying in a western hotel is not travel. Going backpacking in Nepal is. Doing voluntravel (going somewhere to help, e.g. Medicins Sans Frontiers) is ideal. But in any event the challenge to your sense of normalcy is fabulous. I spent a month in western China with my kids. Watching them take in the local environment and adapt was a real eye opener to how stuck-in-my-own-ways I’d become.

3. Learn that it is okay to turn off your cell phone and email. Reflective thought and deep reading take time. Oh excuse me, just got an email, be right back. Nope, that doesn’t work. Its okay to be unreachable for hours a day. I aim to answer email for an hour at the end of the day, at most. For many hours I’m unreachable except by family. Since I started that my time for thinking and reading has risen dramatically.

4. Do less better. There’s always another project that we rush to, never finishing the one we were doing. Sorry, great works of science and art take great dedication, polish, and repolish! Sure, we’re not all Darwin or Monet, but we should ASPIRE to be. Just say no to some projects. Focus on a few (make your family a project… for extra points!).

5. In all things seek balance. I agree that exercise is good. So is reading. So is relaxation – and if a bit of TV is what works, great. I for one watch old romantic comedy movies when I’m brain dead (well, okay, when I’m especially brain dead). I also enjoy blending my activities – go for a long walk that ends up at a coffee shop where I read a paper or book and stare out the window.

These 5 things are a great compliment to the original article, but there are still many more the haven’t been mentioned. I’d love to hear what works best for you.

What are your favorite ways to make the most of your intelligence? Share them in the comments.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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