It works in a pretty simple way:
When you anticipate something good, as the arrival of a dish when you’re waiting at a restaurant table, or simply the results of your labor, dopamine gets released in your brain and it makes you focused on what you have to do to get what you’re anticipating.
Waiting for a dish in a restaurant is always easy, right? You don’t get unmotivated to just… wait, and get the fuck out, right? But when it comes to studying, working, or even cleaning your apartment, you might just procrastinate and accept not getting any reward yet.
It’s simply because the anticipation of the reward (a good grade, a salary, a tidy apartment) doesn’t give you enough of a thrill to wipe out your boredom.
In extreme cases, you won’t even cook yourself some food because you’ll be so depressed nothing will seem enjoyable enough to you anymore, not even filling your hungry stomach with spaghetti carbonara. It’s going to happen to you at some point, eventually. “Fuck it, my friend died, why not eat cookies for dinner.” Life can be hard, I’m not gonna lie. But let’s talk about common boredom rather than such a stage of depression, alright?
Some people are chronically bored. In other words, things don’t stimulate them as much as they stimulate other people. When they think about the results of labor, it doesn’t give them enough of a thrill to make them work. They want the results, but it’s not enough to give them the nice feeling called motivation that helps other people endure labor.
So what can be a shortcut to better productivity? Keep reading…
Anticipation of results that are distant in time usually gives less motivation. That’s why (if you’re not a very good student) you’ll suddenly work like a motherfucker the night before an exam. Anticipating the results of an exam that will happen in a few months is boring and doesn’t give you any motivation to start working right now. It’s like the exam doesn’t even exist. Thinking about imminent rewards is always more exciting. That’s why video games are so popular among kids with ADHD (whose brains produce less dopamine): they give numerous little rewards rather than a single large reward at the end of the effort. This way, video games can hook the attention of the most distractable ones.
You have projects and dreams but it’s not enough to make you enjoy working towards them? Try to gamify your work. Implement small rewards in your work process. Think about levels in a video game… when you’re gaming, you’re thinking about finishing your current level, right? Not just the game. That’s my point.
Don’t tell yourself: I’m going to work a long time to get one single reward at the end.
Tell yourself: I’m going to work little by little, considering every step towards success and giving myself a small reward every time I will pass such a milestone.
I personally work far better when I tell myself: I’ll only see my girlfriend, or watch a movie after I’ve finished my work.
That’s all you need, mate.
Eat a snickers bar every time you’ve written 500 or 1000 words for your book. Only play video games after you’ve finished doing your homework. Only jerk-off when you’ve finished reading a book. Have a drink after hours of studying. Work out in the cold just to be able to have that perfect steaming shower at the end. Learn to cook by trying to impress your friends with good-tasting dishes, etc.
I’m not saying you’ll never have to kick your ass on the regular to achieve your goals, but it’s definitely going to help a little if you reward yourself regularly.
Thanks for reading,
Signed, a lazy guy