How I Tricked My Brain To Start Doing Hard Work

Three steps that I used to detoxify my brain

Ankit Das
Ankit Das
Sep 1, 2020 · 7 min read
Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

ou might be struggling to do the hard things, or at least the stuff you are supposed to do, be it preparing for the test you have to take tomorrow, or an assignment you have to submit. You are procrastinating. But not anymore, because I am going to show you a strategy that will help you to never procrastinate again. You will not have to force yourself to study or work.

By taking the three simple steps that you will learn here, preparing for that final exam, or working on your side hustle is going to be much easier. I have been using this recipe for a long time, and believe me! It works. And once you start implementing these three steps, everything is going to change for you. You will finally find the willpower and motivation to do all of the things you have been procrastinating on.

1. Your brain hates uncertainty

Photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash

If I would offer you one hundred dollars today or 150 bucks one year later. Most of you would probably choose one hundred dollars now because a year from now looks like a long time. You aren’t sure what’s going to happen by then, so better take a hundred dollars today. You can invest it and make much more than waiting for another year.

When something is vague and uncertain, your brain tries to avoid it at all costs because it might consume a lot of energy, it’s counterproductive since your brain is trying to optimize and save that energy for later. Your brain starts coming up with every excuse to delay that task.

Say you want to prepare for tomorrow’s test. You skipped many classes, and it seems unreal to read the entire book in one night. You certainly need much more time. You don’t even know where to start, what are the topics you have to study first? Your brain will give you every excuse to postpone it or avoid it entirely by saying that “your friend is going to sit next to you and is going to help you”.

Or let’s take another example, every time you want to start doing something productive, your brain jumps in and says, “Let’s make a coffee, or how about you check your Instagram and find out who commented on your last picture”. And that’s because the task that you have in front of you is vague and uncertain.

A simple way to fix that is to break that task into a few small steps. Instead of getting ready for the test, set a goal to read just the first chapter that will take around 10 to 15 minutes. It’s going to be much easier to push yourself to focus for 10 minutes. Once you are done with the first chapter, move to the next.

What I found out works the best is that, instead of setting a goal of accomplishing something, create time blocks. Set a goal of working for 30 minutes, for example, and then take as much break as you want. That’s much better than setting a goal to study for the entire day, but, in reality, you will be procrastinating by watching YouTube videos or Netflix.

2. Your belly controls your neurons

Photo by Lily Banse on Unsplash

The food you eat directly impacts your brain. And since your brain controls the rest of your body, whatever you had on breakfast will impact your mood, willpower, and overall motivation throughout the day. When you look at the grocery stores’ shelves, most of the products are filled with sugar that is named differently.

Sugar is named in 56 different names, such as Dextrose, Fructose, Glucose, Dextrin, and many others. There are just various forms of sugar. But the side effects of consuming so much sugar are severe. One of the main reasons you are lazy and can’t stay focused for a longer period is because you have been consuming too much sugar.

Your brain is a complicated object. But what we know for sure is that it functions through hormones or neurotransmitters. One of them is dopamine that’s responsible for your reward system. When you socialize, have fun, grab a slice of a cake, or even get good grades, it sends a signal to your brain and releases dopamine.

It feels good, that’s why you decide to eat another slice of that cake to experience that dopamine spike again. That’s why beverage companies add a lot of sugar to their products to make you come back for their products. There is nothing wrong with that, but when you consume more sugar than you suppose, your dopamine levels start spiking higher and higher, and at some point, that becomes your new normal.

So things such as socializing or the satisfaction you get after submitting an assignment do not produce enough dopamine to spike it higher since your new dopamine level is already too high. In other words, you destroyed your reward system.

That’s why you find it difficult to do anything meaningful. You can’t even stay focused for 20 minutes, because your brain is craving for that dopamine boost, so you quickly check your Instagram or Facebook to release those neurotransmitters. Heroin, for example, releases even more dopamine than sugar does, that’s why it’s addictive. Once you get addicted, your new dopamine level will be so high that nothing else will be interesting enough for you to do other than consume that drug.

So how to do the hard things? Control your reward system by controlling your diet. Try to get rid of sugar completely! A single coca-cola can have 40 grams of sugar and a sneaker bar 12. Most people have destroyed their reward systems, so no matter what technique you are going to use to stay focused, study for that test, or work on your side businesses, you can’t until you fix your diet.

Start by replacing all of your drinks with water or fresh juice. If you add 2 teaspoons of sugar to your coffee, cut it by half. Replace your sneaker bar with a banana or watermelon or other kinds of fruits. Your dopamine level will start slowly decreasing to its normal level, and you will find it much easier to stay focused.

3. Don’t be a Koala

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Koalas are one of the dumbest animals out there. I am not trying to be disrespectful (sorry Koalas, just in case you are reading this), but the fact is Koalas have an unusually smaller brain. And the size of a brain also reflects the intellectual ability of an animal. Before you feel sorry for them, hear me out! Koalas don’t need a bigger brain since they sleep for 18 to 22 hours a day, and when they are awake, they eat leaves. Koalas are known for being lazy.

In this modern world of technological innovation, most of our jobs consist of sitting in front of a computer. We move much less than our grandfathers did. You see, our bodies are built to move, and our ancestors had to constantly move either to hunt and put food on the table or run away when they came across a predator.

Sitting reduces your blood flow, and less oxygen enters your brain and your bloodstream. And guess what your brain needs to stay active? Exactly! Oxygen and bloodstream. So if you are sitting for 10 hours a day, don’t be surprised that you find it difficult to stay focus. I am not even going to talk about its side effects.

National Institute of Health study concluded that adults who spend most of their time sitting have a 50 percent higher mortality rate. If you sit for more than 6 hours a day, your risk of death increases by a rate similar to smokers.

So, a simple way to make it easy for your brain to focus is to move. For every 45 minutes, you sit, stand up and stretch for 10 minutes. If you can work while standing up or walking, do it. Of course, from time to time you have to sit, that’s not a big deal if you are moving enough. Studies show that students with high fitness scores have almost always higher test scores.

So if you want to make it even better, exercise, go for a little jog every morning. If you never exercise and suddenly want to run a marathon, you will probably struggle and won’t be able to run for more than a hundred meters. Then what makes you think that if you don’t keep your brain in shape, you can stay focused and have enough willpower to do the hard things all the time? That’s why you have to develop a certain lifestyle if you want to be productive all the time.

So, those were the three steps that I used to detoxify my brain and tricked my brain to start doing the hard things. I hope this would be useful.

Thanks for reading!

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Ankit Das

Written by

Ankit Das

An engineer in the making, a consistent learner, and full of enthusiasm. Pursuing B. Tech in IT. Writes about self-improvement, fitness, and sometimes money.


Outstanding stories objectively and diligently selected by 40+ senior editors on ILLUMINATION

Ankit Das

Written by

Ankit Das

An engineer in the making, a consistent learner, and full of enthusiasm. Pursuing B. Tech in IT. Writes about self-improvement, fitness, and sometimes money.


Outstanding stories objectively and diligently selected by 40+ senior editors on ILLUMINATION

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