Posted by: David D. Daggett | April 5, 2018

Turbocharge Your Brain (and Life!)

Turbocharge Your Brain (and Life!)

            “He must be crazy” the younger guys observe.  “How does he keep doing it after all these years?” They were talking about me swimming in the same pool every weekday morning for more than 30 years.  I have previously talked about integrating our training into all aspects of our lives to enhance everything we do.  I use the daily routines of swimming in the morning, running most days at lunch, and long bike rides on the weekends as a slight edge (a topic of a future article) and a professional competitive advantage.


In his book Spark author John Ratey, MD, basically reviews how exercise, particularly first thing in the morning, can enhance every aspect of our lives including health, academic performance, and occupational success.  The good news is that if you are disciplined enough to make this exercise part of your daily routine you beat 90-plus percent of the competition from the very beginning because they simply won’t do it.  That’s a slight edge.

So, you ask how does he do it?  Doesn’t it get boring?  Believe me, my attention span is as short as anyone’s.  However, I have developed a three-step trick that helps me get through the workouts and enhances the other aspects of my life.  Of course, the daily swim is for fitness and to prepare for competition.  I swim by time, not by distance, and it is largely unstructured.  However, I have had successes over the years including several first out of the water awards at Ironman™ events.

My three-step routine is actually very simple and includes 1) spending time in meditation/prayer/being grateful, 2) outline my day/morning/afternoon in bullet points, and 3) troubleshoot whatever is my biggest issue/problem/etc. that I am facing.

First, spending time in meditation, prayer, and being grateful is positive for your personal psychological health and helps enhance your interpersonal relationships, spiritual connection, and occupational attitude all while engaging in a positive fitness activity.  I joke that I like doing this while I swim because nobody can interrupt me.

Next, I spend time outlining in bullet points, usually three very well defined, my tasks for the day, morning, or afternoon.  Research shows that time spent outlining and visualizing what you need to get done yields extremely high productivity and efficiency.  In fact, research shows that your time exercising is more than paid back through the resulting productivity and efficiency.  So it is a bonus that you actually get time back when you take time to exercise.

Lastly, I spend time troubleshooting whatever the biggest problem, issue, or event that I have upcoming.  Believe me, as a lawyer I have plenty of these issues to think about and contemplate.  Again, research shows that exercise yields creativity for problem-solving.  In fact, as soon as my workout is over I need to immediately write down some of the notes of all of the great ideas that I have generated during my workout.

Doing the above mental routine, I many times swim longer than I had planned due to being so engrossed in the mental aspects and my thoughts.  The same goes for running or biking.  I really believe, and research supports, that if you use your training time to positively influence your brain and thought processes you can have greater successes in all aspects of your life.

Once you make this sort of simple mental routine a habit it is like putting a turbocharger on your brain and will make the rest of your life better as well.



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