Ten Tips For Being productive While High

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Ten Tips For Being productive While High

We all know how fun cannabis can be—but can recreational weed be used for more than just recreation? In this guide, we'll look at the relationship between weed and work, and offer 10 tips on how you can optimize your weed use for productivity and creativity, while avoiding common pitfalls that many workday smokers fall into.

As weed becomes more mainstream, getting high is no longer just for stoners looking to eat Cheetos and play video games (was it ever?). Cannabis is becoming serious business, and more and more people are looking to get serious business done while high. Is it really possible to be productive on cannabis?

Happily, it is. For many, smoking weed has opened up new avenues in work and art. Weed has the potential to be hugely beneficial for productivity, but, as every pothead known, it can also backfire. To better understand what we’re dealing with, we’ll start with some background info on the brain before plunging into our ten tips.


To understand productivity, we need to understand dopamine. Dopamine is associated with reward, pleasure, and productivity. Scientists used to believe that when we achieve something or carry out productive work, our brain releases dopamine to reward us. It also releases dopamine in response to cheap pleasures, like candy or cigarettes. This can make it harder for our brains to muster up dopamine to reward us for what matters. This view of dopamine suggests that the best way to be productive is to live an austere life, only allowing our dopamine to spike when we’ve earned it.
New research suggests that the picture is a bit more complicated. A recent study showed that dopamine actually tends to be released before we begin to act, suggesting that dopamine is as much motivation as reward. This view of dopamine suggests a different approach for productivity: instead of avoiding all external sources of dopamine, it may be beneficial to “dose” with external sources of dopamine while we work, to increase our motivation and jump-start our productivity.

It turns out this is exactly what people do; thus the popularity of workday coffees, sugary snacks, and cigarette breaks. Weed is far healthier than common 9–5 dopamine-boosters, and tends to release dopamine more gradually, allowing for a more gentle and prolonged boost.

So why do we go out and work in coffee shops instead of vapour lounges? Aside from the legal question, weed has qualities which make it a more finicky productivity-booster than coffee. However, if you can handle the complexity, THC offers several advantages over caffeine; for one, it’s less addictive, and for another, it can be better at preserving and enhancing creativity. Read on to become a pro being productive on weed.




Our first tip follows from the dopamine theory we learned above. The motivation theory of dopamine does dovetail with the older reward theory in at least one respect: both suggest that spiking your dopamine for pleasure rather than motivation can sap your resources and make you insensitive to dopamine when you need it.

If you want to be productive while high, you may want to limit your cannabis use to work hours. In his book, Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good, producer Kevin Smith talks about how he started using weed in exactly this way: “If I was blazing, I was writing, podcasting, or editing at the same time.” He continues, “I wouldn’t allow myself to simply smoke weed and watch movies or TV; if I was going to be irresponsible every day, I had to couple it with productivity.”

If you have a habit of getting stoned, watching a movie and eating candy, you’ll have a hard time being productive on weed. As soon as you blaze, your brain will go, “Yay! Time for a movie and candy.” When you then try forcing it to work, it’ll grow resentful and resist the attempt. Research has also shown that chronic weed use can lower dopamine release in the striatum, a part of the brain associated with writing and creativity.

If you’re not willing to cut out fun times with weed entirely, consider cutting them back for a period before you launch your productive weed habit. You may want to consider splitting your weed use by type: strict Indicas use for chilling out, and strict Sativas use for work. This will help your brain develop different conditioning for different weed contexts. As we’ll see, strain will be key in more ways than one.

Associate weed with productivity


Let’s be real: you probably don’t want to take the elephant tranquilizer of all Indicas before sitting down to build a website. When smoking for productivity, Sativas are your homies. Go with Sativa-dominant hybrids, or if you’re especially sensitive to the effects of Indicas, stick with pure Sativas.

You may want to get even more specific depending on the kind of work you’re doing. If you’re doing intense, left-brain work, a focused, clear strain like Power Plant XL would be a good choice. If you’re doing artistic work, a creative, expansive strain like Choco Candy might be better. Play around with different Sativa strains until you find the one that’ll help you get into the zone and stay there. Other strains lauded for their productive effects include NYC Diesel and Green AK.


So you’ve got your strain, and you’re building good habits. Time to get wicked blazed and pump out some work?

That might work amazingly for some people, especially if those looking to do something weird, wild and creative. But for many, smaller dose are ideal for productivity.

Cannabis has been shown to follow a biphasic dose-response pattern, where a small dose can have the opposite effects of a large dose. Small doses of THC have been found to reduce anxiety, sharpen cognition, improve working memory, and increase energy. High doses were shown to do the opposite in all three regards.

A productive work day seems much more compatible with effects at the lower end of the dose spectrum. Smoke your weed in microdose form to get the most out of your workday.

Cannabis microdose


CBD and THC in combination have been shown to produce an “entourage effect,” where each helps enhance the effects of the other. CBD taken in combination with THC has been shown, among other things, to reduce anxiety, and improve working memory.

Your perfect productivity partner may be a Sativa-dominant strain with high-CBD levels, like White Widow. You may want to consider supplementing with a CBD tincture alongside your Sativa strain.

Add some CBD Oil


We all know that it’s easy to get distracted while high. Before you take the plunge, set up your environment to encourage single-minded focus. Get your canvas ready before you start. Open your laptop to the appropriate documents. Put the video games in a drawer.

It might be a good idea to work away from home. Home tends to be full of fun, comfortable things which will pull at your attention, either ripping you away from your work entirely, or draining your energy as you try not to notice them. If you have a fun-time weed smoking pattern at home, it’ll be even more challenging to avoid falling into your usual haunts.


Decide ahead of time what you want to accomplish on the high, and write it down. This will create clarity and help you keep yourself accountable. Try to set realistic goals: don’t go too easy on yourself, and also don’t overburden yourself. You can adjust your goals for next time depending on what you did and didn’t manage to achieve: If you get your goals done too quickly, set more extensive ones; if you worked productively for the whole high and still didn’t get very far into your list, try to set goals that are more achievable.

One way to set achievable goals is to break a project into smaller parts, and identify which milestones you hope to accomplish in a given period. This can also help you track your progress at a finer grain level. It’s more useful to plan to “set up hosting and build two pages,” than to “work on website.”


This is key! If you start your high with a fun activity, say watching some youtube videos, then you’re not only wasting time: you’re priming your brain for a fun time, which will make it very hard to pivot to real work. Launch right into work, and reward yourself at the end, once you’ve accomplished something.


Could anything say “productive day” better than a cup of coffee and toke of Sativa? Unfortunately, this combination might not be ideal. Caffeine combined with low doses of THC  has been shown to produce memory deficits as severe as those on heavy doses of THC. Caffeine has also been shown to intensify the effects of other dopamine-producing drugs, including weed. This could transform the gentle dopamine boost of cannabis into a sharp spike and drop, narrowing your productivity window.

Be aware that caffeine is, at best, a mixed blessing when combined with weed. If you must drink coffee, keep it to a minimum.

Avoid caffeine


Weed has a reputation for creativity. Steve Jobs has been quoted as saying, “marijuana and hashish… make me relaxed and creative.” Some studies bear this out. Getting high has been shown to release dopamine in the striatum, an area of the brain associate with writing and creativity (though, as discussed above, chronic use can lower activity in this area).

That being said, research into the effects of weed on creativity is mixed. One study found that THC seemed to improve creativity mainly in people who don’t consider themselves very creative to begin with. Another found that small doses of THC improved divergent thinking (a common proxy measure for creativity), while medium doses worsened it. Yet another found that high doses of THC can harm divergent thinking abilities. Creativity can be hard to study, and more research is needed to achieve clarity in this area.

That being said, many artists and creators find weed an incredible jumpstart to their practice. Others don’t touch it. The most likely explanation is that weed affects different people differently, and has different effects on different kinds of art production. If you’re a creative type and want to introduce a new element to your work, weed might be exactly what you’re looking for.


It’s all too easy to forget the basics. Keep your brain hydrated and nourished to optimize your productive flow. You don’t want to overeat—nothing kills productivity like an overburdened digestive system—but you want to make sure you’re blood glucose isn’t dropping through the floor. Bring along a bottle of water and some good healthy snacks to keep your workday going smoothly.

With this guide, you should have all the tools you need to rock a productive work day on weed. Best of luck with your cannabis-infused endeavours!