Everyone needs a little influx of neurons once in a while. The problem for some of us in the office is that we tend to repeat the same patterns each day--browsing to the same sites, using the same email app, and heading to the same break room during lunch. To stimulate your brain and increase your mental energy, try these tricks to spark ideas.

1. Start using a challenging brain puzzle

I'm a big fan of brain puzzles, and I tend to keep a few on my desk at the ready. One of the latest puzzle games is called Playable Art Metal Cube. It's an attractive trinket to have in your office, and it's designed for artistic expression and spatial reasoning.

2. Read something you don't normally read

Cross-pollination is good for the mind. Lately, I've started setting down the business books and picking up a few mainstream books on innovation and world history. It's amazing how changing to a different topic in your reading pattern can spark new ideas.

3. Arrange a consultation with a really smart person

One way to get a bump in mental energy is to talk to someone who is really smart. One service I recommend is called Clarity. You arrange the call with someone like Eric Ries and chat for a while--that's it. It's spendy, but it can give you a burst of insight.

4. Put the coffee down

It's a travesty to think coffee might be slowing you down, and I'm not one to suggest you quit. However, I have found that the magic black potion can cause some issues with attention, focus, and fatigue. Take a break for half a day and see if you get a mental bump.

5. Go to a brand new place to work for the day

That's right--pack up right now and go somewhere you've never been before. This works for me every time and it will work for you. Going to the same place for lunch or coffee each day tends to soften up the old brain cells and make them a little slow to react.

6. Take a brisk walk in the cold

Want to be more alert and ready for that investor meeting? Start by checking the temperature outside. If you need to get up at 4 a.m. in California, go for it. A brisk walk in the cold, wearing proper cold weather gear of course, can stimulate your thinking.

7. Call an old friend

Sparking your synapses might require going back in time. Find an old friend or business associate and cold-call that person out of the blue. When you do, it seems to trigger some new thinking about the present because you are remembering the past.

Published on: Oct 17, 2014