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  • Jon Saft

The common thread between jogging, productivity, and cocaine

Updated: May 11, 2021

Don't do drugs, kids. Drugs are bad, but it would be naive to ignore their euphoric effects. In the immortal words of the late Rick James, "cocaine is a hell of a drug." But as James' early death would suggest, drug use can carry significant consequences.


But what if you could create a similar feeling to a night out with Rick James without the dangerous risks? In our quest to create a better task manager, we discovered that it is quite possible, and has been sitting right under our noses (metaphorically speaking) the whole time.


The Dopeness of Dopamine


When the body takes in drugs like cocaine or ecstasy, it releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. In the simplest terms, the more dopamine the body releases, the more pleasure the brain feels. As a result, every time your brain gets a dopamine hit, it will want your body to repeat the associated behavior to feel more pleasure. Repeat the cycle enough times, and we find ourselves in the struggles of drug addiction.


Drug use is not the only behavior associated with dopamine release, however. There are many healthier ways to send pleasure signals to your brain. Eating healthier, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, listening to music, exposure to sunlight - these are just a handful of tactics to increase dopamine levels that shouldn't surprise you.


Another way to increase dopamine levels without hitting the gym is by simply checking something off your to-do list. The more items you check off, the more your brain will want your body to repeat the associated behavior. Repeat the cycle enough times, and we find ourselves in the euphoria of a productivity addiction.

Trick the brain into pleasure and productivity


The counter argument to this type of biohacking is that anyone can very easily trick the brain into thinking you are making progress by checking useless items off of a list. But is that really so bad?


Large projects can be scary, daunting, and overwhelming. Sometimes, they can be so scary that we avoid starting at all. But if we break down those large projects into tiny, bite-sized tasks and start knocking them off one a time, eventually the brain will become addicted to checking them off the list. The first couple items may have been relatively low impact, but that doesn't mean they were useless. As the checkmarks pile up and the dopamine increases, motivation increases with it, and before you know it, that large project is complete and you can look back at the entire completed vision with a true sense of accomplishment.


“Your vision is your destination, and small, manageable goals are the motor that will get you there,” says Dr. Frank Murtha, a New York-based counseling psychologist with a focus on investor psychology, behavioral finance and financial risk taking. “Without the vision you’re on a road to nowhere. Without the goals, you have a destination but no motor. They work in tandem, and you need both.”

Here are some simple ways to boost your dopamine levels without getting Rick James involved:

  • Break large projects into small tasks. Rather than adding large projects to your Quatro, break them down into small, manageable tasks and celebrate each one as you cross them off the list. Don't worry about having too many - Quatro will always help you keep them prioritized and filtered so you never get overwhelmed

  • Share your wins. As you make your way through the task list, share your achievements with your teammates and friends. When you share, they will reward your progress with positive feedback, resulting in more dopamine

  • Keep the end in mind. According to a study by professors at the University of Michigan, focusing on on the feeling you'll have at the end of a project increases dopamine levels

  • and maintains high motivation

  • Stay healthy. Of course, productivity is not the only bio-hack available. Don't forget about taking care of your body.

With these simple tools, you'll find yourself feeling great, accomplishing more, and stressing less.

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