The INBOUND 2024 Session Catalog is live! Get a first look at our announced sessions(opens in a new tab) (with many more to come!)

Inbound

Andrew Huberman on How to Boost Focus and Creativity with Dopamine

Andrew Huberman on How to Boost Focus and Creativity with Dopamine

What does dopamine have to do with focus and productivity and how does that relate to your work day? Andrew Huberman, neurobiology professor and host of Huberman Lab Podcast, joined us at INBOUND23 where he sat down with Brian Halligan (HubSpot’s co-founder and executive chairperson) to talk all things dopamine, neuroplasticity, and the importance of routine for fueling motivation, productivity, and creativity. 

Here are some key takeaways from their conversation and how you can tap into dopamine to get the most out of your work day.




[Photo credit: Ben Esakof/Halo Creative for HubSpot]


WHAT EXACTLY IS DOPAMINE?  

Simply put, dopamine is a chemical that is produced in our brain. Everyone has a baseline level of dopamine and throughout the day, it is either released or not released at varying levels. “The most important thing to understand is that dopamine is like a propeller,” said Huberman.

Its main function is to drive our sense of motivation and pursuit.

Consider that daily baseline level of dopamine as your reservoir for motivation. Each night that reservoir gets refilled with deep sleep. And as such, Huberman points to the importance of learning how to become a better sleeper or getting in stretches of non-sleep deep rest as a way to reset dopamine levels. 

Long arcs of dopamine releases can help increase motivation, focus, and alertness. Things like cold showers, non-sleep deep rest, and thinking about the positive anticipation of your goals and what you’re trying to pursue can generate large increases in dopamine that last hours, and sometimes days, which in turn increases your level of focus and energy.

You experience the greatest increases in dopamine when you anticipate you are on the right path to the things that you want that are currently not in your physical or emotional possession.

[Photo credit: Ben Esakof/Halo Creative for HubSpot]

 

THE IDEAL MORNING ROUTINE 

What does a neuroscientist’s ideal morning look like? Wake, hydrate, sunlight, movement, caffeine, cold shower. Let’s dive a little deeper.

💦 Hydrate: As soon as he wakes, Huberman reaches for water and typically drinks 16-32 ounces to get his day started. Why? Dehydration can reduce alertness and cognitive focus. 

☀️ Sunlight: No matter the outdoor conditions, he tries to make a beeline for sunlight (even if the morning is overcast). Why? “Light is the most powerful driver of these neural chemicals,” he noted. Sunlight increases the catecholamines (like dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine) as well as cortisol which helps provide a boost of energy and something you’d typically want to have elevated earlier in the day.

🤸 Movement: Huberman recommends a mix of resistance training and cardiovascular training. Why? Because of the way that cardiovascular training impacts blood flow to the brain (due to the repetitive nature of movement), it has been known to put people into states of better cognition. On the other hand, resistance training is more about maintaining neural function and off-setting cognitive decline by engaging neural pathways and keeping them active. 

☕ Caffeine: Depending on your relationship with coffee and how you tolerate caffeine, Huberman recommends drinking it before resistance training in the morning. For those who experience an afternoon crash, he suggests delaying caffeine intake by 90-120 minutes after waking. Why? It taps into mechanisms related to adenosine clearance and cortisol, and by delaying coffee consumption you won’t have as much or any afternoon crash, which in turn, means your performance will be at a more elevated level. 

🚿 Cold Shower: As unpleasant as it may sound, a cold shower can increase your level of focus and energy. Why? During a cold water shock, “dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine are released and those increase motivation, focus and alertness in profound ways, as much as 150% above baseline lasting as long as 2-4 hours,” Huberman explained. 

 

Following a daily morning routine can help set up a productive architecture for each 24 hour cycle.


[Photo credit: Ben Esakof/Halo Creative for HubSpot]

 

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR WORK DAY 

Dopamine can be leveraged to help fuel motivation throughout the day. It can support goal setting and achieving new milestones for projects — each step that is completed releases dopamine which makes you feel a sense of accomplishment and motivation to get to the next milestone. When your mind and body are used to predictable patterns in energy and focus, you can set yourself up for long term success. To break up your workday, Huberman recommends looking at it in three components:

  1.  Waking - Six Hours Later: Focus on tasks that are things you already know how to do. Think, implementation and plug and chug-type tasks. “Bouts of early work in the day for most people tend to be the most effective if they are linear processes,” Huberman underscored.
  2.  Afternoon: Shift to more creative brainstorming projects. An afternoon bout of 45-90 minutes on creative thinking, note taking, and perhaps a few linear meetings is ideal. 
  3.  Evening Reset: After a full day, it’s time to get ready for deep sleep and a reset. According to Huberman, “let’s face it, six or seven hours after that your brain and body are cruising into sleep states.” He added, “Get into those deep rest states so that you can reset.”

Each work day is filled with deadlines, tasks that change in priority, and at times, stressful projects to manage. The main takeaway?

Match the type of productivity that you are trying to accomplish to the state that you are in.

TAKEAWAYS

You have the power to make small changes in your daily routine that can have a massive impact on your overall focus and productivity. And resetting your dopamine levels can help with that. As you start each day, remember to prioritize sunlight and movement. Break your day out into sections and if possible, focus on implementation tasks earlier in the morning and brainstorming and creative ones in the afternoon to maximize your effectiveness. Most importantly, make sure you are taking the time to reset your body after each day with deep sleep.

Want more inspiration and expertise? Subscribe to our email list below for first dibs on session highlights, recaps, and all things INBOUND:

INBOUND Team

INBOUND Team

Providing year round news, trends and inspiration from the editorial desk of your favorite immersive experience.

Join us in person at INBOUND 2024

INBOUND is THE place to up-level your skills, learn new tactics, meet new people to build your professional network, and take your career to new heights. Are you ready to build your future in the heart of Boston? Let’s Grow.
REGISTER NOW(opens in a new tab)