Lessons from Andrew Huberman to outwork myself as a solopreneur to get results faster and not burn out.

Angela Shurina
11 min readMar 28

Work smarter. Harder isn’t enough.


I’m Angela, a solopreneur, a brain-body coach in the middle of building, testing, growing phase of my business.

I have a vision.

I want to transform productivity, performance coaching and education so we all know how to do our best to bring our world-changing ideas to life faster and better. I want to help many purpose-driven solopreneurs to unlock their dormant very often wasted potential to move things forward faster. I want to help myself to give my idea life.

Not so long ago I hit a point when I knew I needed to do more to deliver results but I also felt like I was already at my limit.

How can I work more if I’m already giving it all?

At least in my industry, where I connect neuroscience and health research with coaching methodology and the science of behavior change, I have to be always on top of things. I need to learn every day, I need to figure out how to market my business, I need to figure out where the world is and what problems entrepreneurs are facing.

It’s a lot of work and time.

And I can’t just coast and outsource it. You can’t outsource skill development or prolific insights that come from deep work, experience and studying. You can’t outsource becoming the version of self that brings something unique into the world.

I realized I needed to get much better at using one resource that would make it all possible — my brain.

I couldn’t use stimulants and just push myself into burnout — it wasn’t sustainable or desirable if I wanted to stay healthy and well. And it doesn’t allow the brain to produce its best work — chronic stress isn’t exactly a way to prolific creativity and business models, or to delivering the best content, workshops and coaching consistently.

I had to figure it out. Or stay where I am.

I asked myself a question, “Is there a smarter way to work?”

Can I have more energy, focus, mental endurance, and also creativity and enhanced learning to work and study, to deliver high-quality results to my clients, and to work on my business at the same time?

And if there’s a smarter way, who can I learn from?

While interviewing a former Navy Seal commander Rich Diviney, currently a business, optimal performance coach, consultant for leaders, teams and companies, the author of the book “Attributes: 25 Hidden Drivers of Optimal Performance” — I had this AHA moment that changed everything.

Rich talked about this concept of energy management.

He explained to me that Navy Seals are able to accomplish any mission, however long, however hard, whichever time of the day because they mastered better than other people this concept, this skill of energy management.

Navy Seals learn how to switch between states of complete “combat readiness” and focus, and states of complete relaxation of the mind and body, between rest-and-digest and fight-or-flight states rapidly, almost like flipping a switch somewhere in their brains.

I realized the problem for most of us, purpose and passion-driven entrepreneurs is that we don’t ever flip that switch. Always-ON from the moment we are up till the moment we are in bed, burning that candle from both sides non-stop.

Imagine a real candle.

It has a limited capacity to produce energy and light. And if you only use it when it’s absolutely needed, adjusting the intensity, putting the fire out when it’s not used — it’ll last much longer. And if you leave it ON all the time — it’ll last a fraction of the time.

The same principle works in our nervous system — enter the science of dopamine, focus and brain energy optimization.

Let me introduce you to Prof. Andrew Huberman and other prolific neuroscientists and optimal performance coaches.


Start right to finish strong.

The first problem to address is creating optimal brain chemistry to start each morning with a strong focus, drive to achieve aka motivation, and a lot of energy to take action.

How do you do this?

I learned a lot from Andrew Huberman (the superstar neuroscientist and podcaster from Stanford), and other neuroscientists about dopamine, the molecule of motivation, energy and focus, and about the essential practices to have consistently higher levels of it — effective work and learning aren’t possible without it. Lack of dopamine drives procrastination.

I learned about the importance of natural light in the morning, getting outside for 10–30 minutes, close to sunrise time.

It’s important for dopamine, sleep, cortisol and adrenaline, for serotonin — for so many molecules in our brain and body that keep us energized and focused.

It’s not just good-to-have practice — it’s a must-practice for a focused, effective, productive brain.

I learned about movement, and how that changes brain chemistry immediately, optimizing dopamine, blood circulation, blood sugar, removing the sleepy molecule fast (adenosine).

A learned about cold showers and hyperventilation breathwork, and their effects on dopamine and adrenaline — the molecules that keep us alert, focused, and energized.

And I applied it all.

Each morning I wake up. I’m out for a walk when the sun is up. I do a workout — sometimes longer, sometimes 5 minutes of jumping jacks. I take a cold shower. I do my hyperventilation breathing right before work.

I’m ready to go — I primed my neurobiology for optimal brain-body chemistry to get into my focused zone of effectiveness consistently faster.

Of course, also, a solid night of sleep on the same schedule is a non-negotiable must for a powerful brain that requires no stimulants.


Get focused faster and distractions jiu-jitsu.

A lot of my clients complain about distractions — hard to manage the outside world, technology, hard to manage distracting thoughts and feelings.

I battled with those too, until I learned the best practices of focus priming and distractions management aka distraction jiu-jitsu.

I asked experts. I listened. I experimented.

I interviewed Emily Balcetis, another prominent neuroscientist from New York. Emily studies motivation and focus among other things, she is a professor of psychology, the author of “Clearer, closer, better. How successful people see the world”. I learned that a) we can control our focus b) how we manage our focus changes our energy (physically), our motivation, and how effectively we get things done.

High achievers in all domains manage their focus effectively.

From Prof. Emily Balcetis I learned that if I want to focus easier on the right things instead of battling with distracting thoughts, self-doubts and anxieties, battling with devices and people that will always be there, if I want to have strong motivation — I need to create the right kind of environment first.

When I sit down to work I need to create a clear picture of “done”, a clear to-do list, clear outcomes to focus on to help my brain filter out the irrelevant noise. I need to break down bigger tasks of the day into smaller chunks with incremental accomplishments along the way to keep the dopamine (that loves rewards and progress) flowing.

I learned that if I want to focus faster I got to stare at one spot for about 30 seconds to start the flow of focused chemicals like dopamine and acetylcholine, which I’d then direct into my work. (Focus Toolkit, Andrew Huberman).

I learned that our eyes, the way we direct our gaze, what we look at and how — these are actually very powerful tools to manage our attention, focus, our mental state — from closed-minded focus to open-minded creativity.

Then I read more research and studies as I do every day. It turns out — our phones’ proximity is draining our brain power, and we have less of it available for work (“Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity”)

I learned that If I don’t manage distractions in the room, people, notifications — I’ll be losing as much as 50% of my effectiveness on average, taking 50% longer to accomplish any task, making 50% more mistakes (Friederike Fabritius, “The Brain-Friendly Workplace”)

I read. I listened. I changed things.

I created a very simple protocol I call “FOCUS PRIMER”, it only takes a couple of minutes and gives you a lot more productive time and results instead of wasting your time on distractions and foggy, unclear thinking.

a) Eliminate all visual distractions — good light and facing something like a white wall. Don’t let your eyes wander and your brain won’t either. (Did you know that your eyes are a part of your brain, and vision takes a lot of the brain’s processing power? Do you really want to analyze random people and movements around you instead of getting results on your mission?)

b) Eliminate noise — another data stream you don’t want to be wasting your brain power on. I also use Brain.fm to strengthen my focus.

c) Turn off all notifications and communicate your availability to everyone so people know when to reach out to you for chats and updates. Announce your “closed/open door” hours for real-life and digital communication.

d) Put your phone in the other room, or at the very least somewhere non-visible (remember that brain drain effect?)

e) Sit down to work and write down what done looks like, and compile a short to-do list for the next chunk of work to help your brain filter what’s important and what’s not, and to boost dopamine with milestones.

f) Stare at the wall in front of you for 10–20 sec.

And get to work without skipping a bit.

If I get ideas or distracting thoughts — I open up a simple note app and type it all in for future review.

It took me a lot longer to type it all here but the protocol takes just a couple of minutes to implement.

And it gives you many more minutes and hours of uninterrupted focus, saving energy at the same time (goodbye fatigue and burnout)!


Respect your brain cycles — you can’t outsmart biology.

Any professional athlete (I worked with many as a coach) knows that your body, and your nervous system have limits.

You can’t just decide to run non-stop and do it — you’ll hit the wall sooner than later. The more intense you go — sprint/slow pace — the sooner you hit the wall and will need to recover. The more efficient you are with your technique (read the focus primer again) — the less energy you waste and the longer it would take to hit that wall.

Any athlete who makes a living doing it knows — If you want to go far and long, you’d better learn how to recover like a beast.

Play hard, rest even harder — when it comes to sustainable high performance.

It’s true for athletes. It’s true for mental work.

I learned from Andrew Huberman that the brain works in cycles. They call them ultradian cycles. It’s the time frame when our brain can stay effectively focused before we’ll need to take a break. Each cycle is around 90 minutes long.

And then we need to take a break to restore some of that capacity of our brain, our nervous system to perform again.

Did you know that our ability to stay hyper-focused is limited?

Focus is a resource-intensive mental process — it requires energy, neurotransmitters among other resources.

Focus isn’t free.

It’s more like renewable energy. It has its peaks and lows but it always comes back.

Andrew Huberman says that from the data we have, it seems that we have the capacity for 2–4 cycles of intense focus per day, and earlier in the day our ability to produce strong focus is better due to many neurobiological factors. (More dopamine, more adrenaline, less byproducts of nerve function)

And the better we recover — the better our ability to focus throughout the day is.

Not all breaks are created equal.

Forget your phone for sure. Checking your social media isn’t a brain break.

The best kind of breaks allow the nervous system and the brain to recover, to restore neurotransmitters among other resources, and to save energy while not used (putting that candle out when not needed).

Effective brain breaks are breathwork (physiological sigh), yoga nidra (body scan), going for walks, especially in nature, disconnecting from social media and any focused work, staring into the sky focused on breathing and present moment.

I personally take a short break every 30 minutes.

I move a bit, I relax my eyes, I do some breathwork. 5 minutes or less. I incorporate movement to stimulate blood circulation to my brain with all the oxygen and nutrients to fuel the work.

Then every 90 minutes I take a longer break, maybe 10 minutes of yoga nidra, some movement again, allowing my brain to fully switch off.

I might take a longer walk in the middle of the day — no phone allowed.

Movement, by the way, is a great way to invigorate your nervous system — it changes brain chemistry (more dopamine), it delivers oxygen and nutrients to your brain, it helps the brain to wander, to come up with insights to connect the dots.

At the end of my work day, around 5 pm, I eat, I go out for a walk, I disconnect, and then I’m ready to study, or to finish a project that needs to get done today.

This routine of focus and rest, on and off, allows me to completely eliminate daily fatigue and, regular before, bi-weekly mini burnouts, when I wanted to see and talk to no one, just watching TV or something.

I used to not be able to do much after 5 pm! Just completely exhausted from my brain-ineffective day.

Now I have no problems putting in extra work at night, my studies and business — I need it to make progress and get ahead now.

I get a lot more done — simply because I’m not wasting brain power on distractions, trying to push my brain through fatigue with stimulants and whatnot (which always backfires). I’m more relaxed, I get more ideas flowing, my mind feels so much clearer, more focused and effective.

You see, what I learned from some of my inspiring, purpose-driven clients like Ryan Morris, Ceo of Turntide Technologies — it’s not the resources we have that matter, it’s how effective we are at using them, instead of wasting them on “bad technology” or sloppy usage.

It’s true in renewables — true in the human body.

If what you read hits home for you, and you and your team are on a mission to make something extraordinary happen — LET ME TEACH THESE IN REAL TIME and SIGN UP FOR MY FREE ZOOM WORKSHOP WE DO ON FRIDAYS.

We will learn together. We will discuss the best practices and personal hacks. We will ask questions and you get 3 bonus gifts — “Breakfast for Dopamine Optimization” printout, the simplest, no-simulants, focus-boosting supplement protocol, and a PDF report on outsmarting afternoon slump, featuring Alex Hormozi, Andrew Huberman, and Sundar Pichai.


Work smarter. Harder is not enough!

Thank you for reading! Brought to you by your brain’s coach — Angela Shurina — Executive Brain, Productivity Coach, committed to sustainable productivity and human potential.


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Angela Shurina

Brain Coach for Entrepreneurs, Leaders, Teams. 🧠𝐅𝐫𝐞𝐞 𝐁𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐓𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 WEEKLY http://www.brainbreakthroughcoach.com/newsletter