How to Motivate Yourself to Tackle Boring Tasks
I sat at my desk in a stare-off against my to-do list.
The next item was “update this month’s cash flow projections.” Just thinking about it made my brain hurt. My mind began to wander, considering all the more enjoyable stuff I could do instead.
Sometimes tasks can feel like mountains to climb. We see them in front of us, and the idea of scaling them seems intimidating. So, we look for easier paths around them.
But there’s a currency your brain thrives on that can make even the toughest climb feel like a Sunday walk?
Enter the Dopamine Deal.
Everyone’s Been Blindsided
Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
It’s easy to be seduced by the fun and flashy — and shelve the stuff that feels like work for “later.”
But what if the mundane didn’t have to feel so…mundane?
The Sneaky Truth about Procrastination
Procrastination doesn’t shout “I’m here”.
It tiptoes silently into your brain. Making exciting tasks so attractive you can’t wait to start them. And boring tasks seem almost repulsive.
Here lies the heart of the problem, but also the path to a solution.
The Power of Dopamine
Dopamine, the neurotransmitter, is the puppet master for our motivation and attention.
- Low levels? You’ll view tasks as huge challenges.
- Boost it, and suddenly you’re the main actor in a blockbuster called “Getting Sh*t Done.”
So let’s influence Dopamine for our benefit.
Seal the Dopamine Deal
This is where the Dopamine Deal comes into play.
It’s a pact you make with yourself. A promise that a task, no matter how dull, can have a silver lining.
How? Attach rewards. The brain loves, and actively seeks them. And Dopamine is its currency.
Even the most boring tasks can be a Dopamine fuelled party — with the right perspective.
For instance, treat yourself to your favourite podcast only when handling accounts and admin work.
My good friend Miles Welch coaches leaders (go join his newsletter).
He does more than having meetings, speak with people and get paid. His Dopamine Deals are related to helping people find their courage, realise their potential and make a real impact.
Crafting Your Dopamine Deal
Use your M.I.N.D:
- Moment: Decide when. (Before, During, After)
- Item: State the task is.
- Nudge: Add a dopamine booster.
- Drive: Recall why it matters.
So instead of viewing your task like:
⛔️ “Write my newsletter”
Instead you apply a Dopamine Deal and now view it as:
✅ “When I sit down to write my newsletter draft — I will turn off my phone for the next 60 minutes, so that I can order a nice meal and spend the evening with my wife.”
This way, you’re not just ticking off items on a to-do list; you’re enjoying them too.
I apply Dopamine Deals to my Focus Drivers mental modes.
⛔️ “I will switch to PARK mode.”
✅ “IF I am finished SPORTS mode, THEN I move into PARK mode to shed mental focus and switch off for 5-90 minutes, SO THAT I can enter the next mode with clarity.”
Don’t believe that Dopamine is bad and it’s only found by checking your social feed or from unproductive distractions.
Dopamine can directed towards impact. Harness it. Make an impact. Start today with your own Dopamine Deal.
Make the average addictive — and it becomes effortless.