The Focus / Dopamine Regimen

Once you Have all of your great ideas written down, you need to actually get them into action.
By definition, creativity means ideas that are acted upon–ideas that are not are simply exercises in “imagination.” A great, fun thing to do, but not what we are after.

To do this, you actually need to LEAVE the IMAGINATION mindspace and enter the DOING mindspace. You need to leave your acetylcholine behind and pick up some dopamine, kid!
Leave the DMN “task-negative mind-wandering” state (admittedly GREAT for imaginative thinking) and enter the “task-positive state.” Different brain activity pathways, different brainwave frequencies, different neurotransmitters. Wow. Different mindset, different BRAINSET!

A great way to enter this brainset is to FOCUS. Ah, I know that sounds like hard work. But once you get in that brainset, you may not want to quit. So be patient and hold up.

The following show a few different ways to FOCUS. Remember, once your brain is in the FOCUS state, you can take advantage of it and pile on a bunch of work. And it will all seem MUCH easier. But the main thing is to set up your brains state BEFORE you attempt to get much done.

Hack # 0: Setup: grab a half cup of coffee, and some quick calories, OJ, a banana, an apple, etc.

Hack # 1:
Add up the following numbers:

56987
54789
38974
19879
69874
38648

Put your mind to this. Once you have them added up from top to bottom, then add them up again, FROM BOTTOM TO TOP.

So your work will look like this:

458927
56987
54789
38974
19879
69874
38648
458925

Ooops–did you notice that the answer at the top is not the same as the one at the bottom? As you fix this problem, you will find that your focus just about triples–you will WANT to get to the bottom of that problem. Good.

Hack # 2
Look at your list of numbers. Look at the first number, 56987, then immediately look away and repeat it, out loud, BACKWARDS.

Both of these exercises will engage your working memory area of the brain, essential for focus.

Hack # 3
Pull on your hoodie top, and pull it waaaay forward. That’s right, make it look like you are a Trappist monk. Your peripheral vision will be obscured, and you will be FORCED to look ahead, and narrow your FOCUS. Ever wonder why the President of Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg, is famous for his hoodies? Coincidence?

Hack # 4
Plan your activities, then make index cards of the steps, and sequence them properly and put them by your workstation or work area. Follow along. Do NOT give yourself a high-five as you nail each item. Counter-productive, believe it or not!.

Get into the work, and be cognizant that you may resist your mental switchup. That is natural. Of course, your brain wants to stay in its DEFAULT MODE state. Only natural. Know, though, that not much will get done in that state, that is why it is also called (in some circles) the Task-Negative state. What you want (for now, since you need to focus) is the Task Positive State. That requires activation of the Executive State, requiring FOCUS.

As you carry along in your focused work, DO NOT EXPECT TO FEEL SATISFIED OR ‘CONTENTED’ with your progress. This is ironic, but also the way the BRAIN works. What you will feel after some time, is more AMBITIOUS, more YEARNING for results, more WANTING. If you finish one part of the task and feel ‘MOMENTUM’ to continue, then you KNOW that you are entering the Dopamine state. So keep on keeping on. That is what the dopamine state FEELS like and that is where you will get tasks DONE.

Here is a final, blessed irony. We tend to base our self-esteem based on our ACHIEVEMENTS. So long-term, it is very HEALTHY to institute the Dopamine network and GET STUFF DONE, even though SHORT TERM you may not feel great DOING that work. Later in the day, or in the week, we WILL feel satisfied, so keep at it. Lounging on the couch will make you feel comfy for the immediate hours you do it, but later in the day you will lack the self esteem only gotten through achievements, and, finding yourself wanting of those achievements, you will feel EMPTY. So feeling comfortable all day will not make you comfortable in the evening. Weird, hunh? The fact is, you need ALL of these neurotransmitters to be active in your brain to feel whole and integrated and happy, so you need to feed each of these activities—couch surfing **and GETTING IT DONE!–

ps Once you try this a few times, you will find that you will get things done without so much **effort. The reason for that is that you will be sending all of your energy to the project, and not to AVOIDING distractions. So HALF the effort is saved! Good luck!