The way we manage our time depends a lot on our will, dedication to certain goals and our decision making. It’s our biochemistry that sets the tone when it comes to prioritizing certain tasks and choosing to procrastinate on others. That’s why no productivity app or time-management hack will make you efficient in your work for long term. These are quick fixes that can be very useful to support you on your way to well managed time. But in order to manage tie efficiently, first we need to know what biochemical processes are behind our will and decision-making.

"You can only gain from a little brain science." - Agnese Rudzate

According to science there are 3 players in this game – serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. They are largely responsible for the intensity of attention, mood, decision-making, success and motivation.


It’s one of the major, leading hormones and neurotransmitters stabilizing our mood, and defining the feeling of well-being and happiness. Many cognitive processes, including mood, thought, learning, memory, depend on it.

Serotonin cannot be found in nature in a ready form, meaning that we are not able to directly take it as a supplement. It emerges when tryptophan (an amino acid found in food) reacts with tryptophan hydroxylase (a chemical reactor). But eating tryptophan-rich food alone is not a sufficient precondition for it to transform into serotonin.

Sufficient levels of serotonin largely define the power of mental energy essential for meeting a particular target.


It’s a neurotransmitter (messenger) that plays several important roles in the brain and body. It sends signals from the body to the brain. Dopamine plays a crucial role in feelings of pleasure and reward, as well as self-satisfaction and success.

The importance of dopamine is in shaping mood and motivation, as well as in the sustainability of decisions made. It has a great impact on a person’s ability to concentrate.

Dopamine has 5 major receptors, who are responsible for memory, attention, and decision-making as well as for the formation of emotions, impulse control, attention and sleep.

The comfortable level of dopamine in the human brain largely determines the capacity of mental energy needed to perform a specific task.


Or noradrenaline, is a chemical substance naturally found in the human body, acting as both a so-called stress hormone and as a neurotransmitter. It is released into the blood as the brain perceives stressful events. (It doesn’t matter whether there is an actual, objective danger. The subjective sensation of danger plays the main role.) As the body responds to stress, norepinephrine impacts the brain’s ability to pay attention and react to events. As a neurotransmitter of the central nervous system, norepinephrine somewhat defines one’s degree of consciousness and attention.

It is really hard to successfully manage your time, to identify your goals and implement them without comfortable, balanced levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. The lack of these neurotransmitters is what causes feelings of inefficiency, weakness, apathy, confusion, and despair, as well as the absence of motivation.

In medical terms, the imbalance of dopamine and norepinephrine levels is associated with a wide range of mental disorders, that is, when our mental state that doesn’t allow us to rationally evaluate the present or future.

I know it’s a lot of science, but I hope it gives you a better perspective on what’s actually behind well managed time.

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