F For being someone into lifestyle and biohacking, I did find the basic idea of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) interesting but few of the details grabbed me. One exception: the concept of anchoring. Anchoring is when you associate some external factor with a certain state of mind. You use that external force to trigger you to get into the right frame.
Say you want to train yourself to get more exercise. Your workout clothes are a good choice for an anchor. I have dedicated gear that I wear only when I want to get pumped. By lacing up my running shoes as a pre-workout exercise, the very act of getting dressed to exercise puts me into the mood.
Ways you’ll see it in an office environment include having a certain way you set up your desk or a ritual you always follow when it’s time to work. Many people have used newspapers in the past, or these days news sites, where they read a few articles, then get started for the day. Another use is for sleep: I’ve trained myself to associate turning my dutiful LectroFan white noise machine on and reclining with my Kindle as my “it’s time to wind down” habit.
This same concept works both for and against nootropics. On the pro side, you can absolutely anchor productivity by tying it into nootropics. That’s part of why I don’t generally use them for socializing, even though they can give me a mood boost. I’d rather reserve them for work sessions, so I don’t dilute their effect.
It’s the exact same thing as habitually sitting down with a cup of coffee in front of your computer to say “go time” for work. You can extend that to any of them. In my case, I specifically reserve modafinil for intense work sessions and will not take it on a day where I plan on R&R. It gives me a double boost: both the focus from the nootropic and the anchoring of a productivity habit.
I mentioned a negative, and here it is: you risk psyching yourself out if you don’t have your anchor. In this case, it’d be the equivalent of sitting down to work during a caffeine break, and puttering around thinking that you can’t get started without a cup of coffee (replace with whatever nootropic(s) work(s) best for your work sessions). This is part of what leads to psychological—not physical!—dependence, as you’ll see in all of the rituals people have for public speaking, interviewing, and other high-stress events where they think they “need” something to perform.
The answer is to:
- Always cycle your nootropics
- Regularly take a baseline day to assess and reset if needed
This lets you enjoy the positives of anchoring with a given nootropic, while avoiding the negatives and having off-days whenever you go without.