How to Trick Your Brain Into Being Productive

By: Charlie Hobin

The self-help industry is one of the fastest-growing markets of the 21st century. It’s expected to surpass $13 billion dollars in the next two years- but don’t be surprised by this rapid growth. According to a study done by the PEW Research center, Americans spend over 4 hours a day on their smartphones. This newfound world of distracting content has prompted many to seek methods of utilizing their time more efficiently… by viewing more content. 

I’ll admit, I’m completely guilty of participating in this vicious cycle of internet self-help. I’ll catch myself wasting my time, which provokes me to watch a video about creating good habits. From there, it’s a continuous spiral down the Youtube rabbithole. I’ve tried journaling, meditating, block schedules and other productivity methods, yet I continue to find myself trapped in a cloud of procrastination fueled by resistance.

Resistance. The indescribable feeling that holds us back from accomplishing the simplest of tasks. Mindless duties such as emptying the dishwasher or sending an email are made practically impossible thanks to resistance.

Understanding the art of productivity begins with understanding the reasons for resistance and it’s polar opposite: flow. Both of these are influenced by the deficit- or abundance- of chemicals in our brain known as Catecholamine.

Catecholamine is a neurotransmitter that comes in 3 different forms: Dopamine, Adrenaline and Norepinephrine. These three chemicals control motivation and focus- and productivity.

The secret to mastering productivity is understanding how you can prompt the release of chemicals in your brain to reach your most productive state. By tricking your brain into releasing these chemicals, you can achieve a peak state of productivity. Many common productivity hacks such as journaling, meditating, and sleeping optimize the release of Catecholamines. Though these practices are beneficial, there are methods of stimulating the brain and achieving “flow” that are even more effective. 

1. Eating Tyrosine-rich foods

Tyrosine is necessary to stimulate the release of dopamine in the brain. Foods such as bananas, avocados, eggs, beans, and chicken are all rich in Tyrosine. By simply choosing to have avocado toast and a banana for breakfast rather than your usual Cocoa Puffs, your productivity for the rest of the day is drastically altered.

2. Instrumental Music

According to numerous brain scan studies, listening to music increases activity in the rewards center of the brain- which is where Dopamine receptors are present. There are many playlists on Spotify and Apple Music that are primarily instrumental and have a steady beat, which are less distracting than songs that contain words. 

3. Natural Light

Don’t worry- I’m not suggesting that you drink reduced-calorie beer to improve your productivity. Instead, try to expose yourself to sunlight daily. Sunlight has been proven to activate Dopamine receptors in the brain, and a lack of sunlight is the primary reason for seasonal depression. In order to be productive, try opening your blinds or taking your homework out to the porch.

Hopefully these hacks help you reach your peak state of “flow” in 2020. Just remember, the most critical factor in getting sh*t done is taking action. After you finish reading this last paragraph, go do that one thing that you’ve been putting off for a while, and make 2020 your most productive year!

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