You work hard. Whether you’re swamped at home and don’t want to tackle that pile of dishes in the sink or you’re suffering at your desk, avoiding the unanswered emails in your inbox, sometimes you just can’t get yourself to be productive. To get your focus and your productivity back on track, you just need to give yourself a little boost of happiness. Why not try rewarding yourself?
Rewarding yourself for doing nothing may sound kind of counterproductive, but it can help you be productive when you’re uninterested and word. And, according to recent research, it’s because you just need a little dose of dopamine.
A new study published in Science discovered that triggering the release of dopamine can improve productivity. Researchers studied colonies of red ants, leaving some to work on their own and giving others a dose of dopamine. The ants that received dopamine were noticeably more productive than those that didn’t — the dopamine-fueled ants began leaving their nests more often to forage, increasing their eagerness to work and their dedication to the task.
Why does dopamine have such an effect on ants? Dopamine, according to Psychology Today, is a neurotransmitter that directly affects the brain’s pleasure and reward centers. And it works just the same way for humans. When we’re excited, pleased, or rewarding ourselves, dopamine gets to work. And dopamine makes us feel great.
That feeling of indulgence, happiness, and sheer satisfaction when you’re digging into a bowl of ice cream. The excitement and pleased feeling you get when you make a purchase just for yourself. Tossing back a tasty cocktail at the end of a long work day. These are all connected to dopamine. You’re rewarding yourself, and your brain recognizes that.
So, while the researchers didn’t exactly study the impact of dopamine on human productivity, the results still matter — and they could make a big difference for anyone who’s struggling to get to work.
If you’re struggling to get to work on any task, take a break for a bit. Give yourself a relaxing reward. Grab something small for yourself on Amazon. Zone out for 15 minutes in front of the TV. When your totally undeserved reward is complete, you’ll be happier and your brain will perk up thanks to that special neurotransmitter. And you’ll be more productive, even if just for an hour or two at a time.
Make yourself happy. Treat yourself! However you look at it, enjoyment and pleasure are both productivity boosters. The happier you are, the more you’ll get done.