You know the feeling when you score a goal? Hit a 3-pointer? Smack a home run? Nail a speech? Or just get a huge laugh with a snarky comment?
That’s a dopamine rush. And you can actually get many of them a day while you’re getting work done.
Every time you check off a task on a to-do list, your brain releases a puff of dopamine, the reward molecule. Not only does that rush feel good in the moment, but your brain, over time, rewires itself. It seeks out repetition to feel that rush again and again.
So here’s 3 tips for giving yourself little highs throughout the day:
- Create a To-Do task for Every Little Thing you know you need to do. The smaller the task, the better, but write down the big ones, too.
- Make the tasks as specific and measurable as possible. "Take the garbage to the street" is better than "Trash Day." That’s because your mind works best on very specific tasks. (It doesn’t like to waste energy converting an abstract idea like ‘Trash Day’ into a concrete plan of action, like ‘take the trash to the curb.’)
- Check off your work AS SOON AS IT’S DONE. Don’t wait. Get the dopamine rush you deserve when you deserve. That’s because the more time that passes between the behavior and the consequence, the less powerful the dopamine rush and it association to the action.
The other benefit of a lot of very small, hyper-specific tasks is that you can all see the tremendous progress you’re making. I’ll help you get started on this new feeling of power.
Do These 6 Tasks Right Now
- If you have a task management tool, open it. If not, get a piece of paper and pen.
- Write down two things you need to do today. Be hyper-specific. “Drink a 12-ounce glass of water” not “hydrate.”
- Do them.
- Check them off your list.
- Enjoy the rush.
Congratulations. You’re happier and more powerful than you were 5 minutes ago.