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Tell us your tried and true techniques for focusing when that deadline looms and you need to get work done. In other words, how do you avoid wasted days and wasted nights?

I discovered a good method to keep the brain working at peak potential a while ago when I went back to school.

When it’s important to keep your brain going past the point where it usually gets exhausted, the trick is to alternate.  If you’re doing research or writing a paper and you get to that point where you have a headache starting and you can feel the pressure building behind your eyes and you want to throw the book across the room or shove your fist through the monitor screen.  You stop.  Breathe and start doing something that uses the opposite hemisphere of your brain.  If you’re writing or doing research, then do math, or computer programming, something completely analytical and logic based.  Even Chess.

If you’re studying math or chess, or anything logic based, do something creative.  Read, or write, or play a video game. 

This alternating keeps the brain working at peak output, but it lets the hemisphere rest so you can refocus without wasting time.  I’ve also found it encourages retention, and lowers recovery time.