Let’s face it – no matter how much we might want to be ‘that student’ who LOVES doing work and gets A+ grades because of it, it’s simply not that easy. For most of us, studying and working just don’t provide the same ecstatic emotions that games, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, or any other ‘fun’ activities do.
This doesn’t make you worse than anyone else, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed about it at all – these activities are engineered to release as much dopamine as possible, and you’re only human! However, having these fun options available are what make it so hard to start work, stay focused, and avoid procrastination.
Luckily, there is a way to make studying easy and enjoyable!
Your brain is constantly comparing which of your options provide the most dopamine. This means that when you have the option of A) binging Netflix shows or B) starting a homework project, option A will almost always feel like the better choice. You’d need to have some incredible self-discipline to be able to choose the less enjoyable option every single time – but it doesn’t have to be that hard.
Your body is constantly regulating itself, even with dopamine! This means that, for example, if you scroll through Instagram for one hour every day, it’s going to feel less rewarding on day five than it did on day one.
The Solution – Step One
For one day every week, focus on not indulging in any activities that bring you instant gratification. These might look like eating unhealthy food, scrolling on social media, watching TV shows, playing games, or everything at once! This gives your brain and body a break, and most importantly, will reduce the stress caused by trying to push yourself through activities you dislike when there are other ‘better’ options.
The Solution – Step Two
Change Your Options
Rather than forcing yourself to choose between an activity that provides instant gratification (like scrolling through social media or gaming), allow yourself to choose between something that’s not quite as ‘good’ – try one of the following:
- Exercise (walking, yoga etc.)
- Self-improvement (podcasts, books, videos etc.)
Make these activities your new alternatives to things like study, homework, or working.