Upgrade Your Chess Brain

If I had a pill that would improve your focus, mood & memory, would you take it?

I bet you would. And you would even pay quite a bit for it.

Sadly, I don’t have such a pill. But in this Newsletter, I will show you four ways to improve your focus, mood & brain power consistently.

Without drugs, promised! 🙂

Human Brains are supercomputers. They are plastic. Which means you can upgrade your brain with repeated learning.

Upgrade #1: Treat Your Body Like A Champion

A mediocre brain with a healthy body is way more powerful than the best brain with a horrible body.

A Tesla can’t function properly if you fill it with gas instead of electricity. The same goes for your brain. If your body gets too little sleep, only crappy fast food, or not enough movement, your brain won’t be able to work at full power.

If you want a well-functioning brain, you need to take care of your body. Do so in four ways:

  • Get Enough High-Quality Sleep
  • Expose yourself to sunlight every day (even on cloudy days, some sun shines through)
  • Move to stay healthy
  • Feed your body with high-quality nutrients

Together with social connection, those are the ​5 pillars​ for your physical and emotional health, according to ​Dr. Andrew Huberman​.

Brain Upgrade Action #1:

Think about your current daily routines. Which of the four things above do you neglect the most? Get a book or listen to a podcast on this topic and start implementing small changes in your daily routine. Focus on that point exclusively for a month.

Then, re-assess your situation and focus on another point.

Simple goals for each section could be (all challenges I did in the past):

  • Sleep: 8 hours sleep every day.
  • Sunlight: Walking outside in the mornings or on Lunch break for 15 minutes.
  • Movement: Get 10,000 steps every day for 30 days
  • Nutrition: Pre-cook healthy meals. Avoid snacks on 6 days of the week. Define 1 cheat-day where everything is allowed.

Upgrade #2: Clean Your Brain

Old computers slow because they are full of unnecessary files, caches, cookies, and documents that slow them down.

The same happens to our brains. Especially in our digital world, we overload them with information, which makes them slow down tremendously.

If you want to get better ideas (e.g., think of better moves), you need to make sure your brain does not waste energy on non-important things.

David Allen’s Book Getting Things Done opened my eyes to how many things we store in our minds at all times. Using his GTD methodology, I wrote down over 100(!) tasks/ideas that were overloading my brain.

“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them” – David Allen.

The idea behind this process is simple: if your brain is holding so many things at once, it gets overwhelmed and can’t work properly. Now whenever I feel overwhelmed and unable to focus properly, I take a diary and write down my thoughts. It is incredible how much better I’m able to think after that.

Brain Upgrade Action #2:

If you want the full brain cleansing, get David Allen’s book and follow the instructions. It is highly effective both for work & private overload of ideas.

For a more simple way to start this journey, get a paper diary and write down your tasks, ideas & to-do’s before every Chess training session. This helps your brain focus exclusively on chess moves and not on your grocery list, your mom’s birthday present, and the TV program tonight.

Upgrade #3: Learn Something New Every Day

Your Chess won’t get better if you don’t train it. The same goes for your brain. If you only do the same simple tasks every single day, your brain will feel no need to grow.

The solution is simple but hard: challenge yourself and do things you aren’t able to do… yet. Embark on a lifelong journey to learn new things, not only in Chess.

Pick up a Rubik’s cube, learn a new language, start to play an instrument… There are so many cool things you can learn. Pick something that intrigues you and let your curiosity drive you.

One key characteristic I see with successful chess improvers is that they are curious and ready to get something wrong. This allows them to learn new things quicker and tackle hard things.

Those hard things are usually the things that make them improve once they grasp them. While your brain might resist hard and new things initially, it will get used to it with time.

The more you study new and hard things, the easier this will get. At some point you might find yourself enjoying a hard challenge.

Brain Upgrade Action #3:

Stop trying to confirm what you know already. Instead, go tackle new things that seem a little too hard at the moment.

In chess, that would be solving difficult positions. Be curious about what you come up with and why this might be different than the right solution.

If you get everything right you don’t learn anything. So getting it wrong is actually the point here.

Upgrade #4: Read Read Read

The fact you came so far in this newsletter is a big advantage for you. Reading is the single most powerful thing you can do. Period.

I’m not a scientist, nor a productivity expert. Didn’t get born a chess genius. Nor do I have a special talent for Online Businesses.

Yet, I’m writing a Chess Newsletter on the internet, stil am the youngest ever Chess Grandmaster in Switzerland and know how to improve my body to maximize my physical & emotional health.

How did I get here? By learning from many experts. Most of them are way smarter than me.

Reading is the simplest way to do so. Experts usually spend years and even decades figuring out some things, then take the time to write a book and condense all their finding in less than 300 pages.

In less than 10 hours you can get what others spent a decade working on. That is a pretty good deal.

So my last advice to upgrade your brain is to read, read, read. Or listen to podcasts & audio-books.

Why try to figure out things on your own when someone likely has obsessed about this specific thing for years and gives away their knowledge (nearly) for free?

Brain Upgrade Action #4:

Pick one of the resources below and start reading/listening. If nothing inspires you right now, find a book that will be fun to read and start reading.

As Naval Ravikant famously said:

“Read what you like until you like to read”

Naval Ravikant

If you need more inspiration, check out the ​book summary list​ of Derek Sivers, a very unique and inspiring guy that reads a lot (also my favorite author).

I Have A Bad Memory

Just like a human body isn’t just determined to be fat and untrained, the human brain isn’t just programmed to be good or bad.

So please stop using “I have such a bad memory” as an excuse. What you are saying is that you aren’t training your brain enough. Put in the time and you’ll feel a difference. Will you be the next Carlsen? Probably not.

Life isn’t fair. We all have different starting points. Your task is to make the best out of yours. Training your brain (and body) is part of that.

And always remember: hard training beats talent if talent doesn’t train hard.

Keep improving,

Whenever you’re ready, here is how I can help you:

  • Sign up for the waitlist of my upcoming course, Beginner Chess Mastery. You will get behind-the-scenes insights and a special discount code for the launch on March 19th. Learn more and join the waitlist here.
  • Check out my video course, Next Level Training. It is the Adult Improver Blueprint to Chess Training. This course taught 550+ students the How of Chess Training. Create your own high-quality chess plan and learn how to study each part of Chess, from tactics to openings & endgames. Curious? Learn more ​here​.

This article was initially sent out as a Newsletter to 16,000+ chess improvers. You can join them in getting a free Newsletter every friday by signing up here.

I firmly believe that

anyone can improve their chess through the right mindset and training techniques.

I’m here to guide you on your journey to chess mastery.

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