I realize that sounds completely counter-intuitive, but hear me out.
Last week I was a bit sick. I take care of myself usually, so when I feel a cold coming on I load up on Vitamin C, garlic, oregano oil and whatever else is around that combats things like this. I didn’t even feel like having coffee, because my body was telling me it didn’t want that jacked-up feeling I usually go through. So I had black chai tea instead. Just tea, with milk and some raw honey. And you know what? I found that it made me more productive than the days when I did have coffee. I stayed on one project for hours, while taking breaks of course, and was accomplishing lots of small tasks concurrently.
That was Monday, and Tuesday I decided maybe I had bounced back and decided to have a cup of coffee. I’m not a heavy coffee drinker, just one cup of french press a day. But the results were staggering. My mind was racing for a couple hours afterward as I wasn’t able to focus on any one thing. Then came the inevitable crash in the afternoon when all I can do is stare at tasks and just coordinate them for another day, and a nagging feeling that I just want a nap. I started coming to the realization that when I drink coffee I only get a couple hours of real work done a day.
So I inadvertently weaned myself off of coffee, partly because of the cold but also because I started a project that needed my attention all day to finish. Drinking just tea coupled with the 52:17 method has resulted in my being able to consistently focus on my work instead of getting distracted by my mind racing or stressing out over all the things I want to do but can’t stop long enough to do even one. I’m also sleeping better and much deeper than before. Curious about the actual effects of coffee, I found this article at Inc. about how coffee actually hurts your productivity.
“…once caffeine is in your system, it takes a very long time to leave. If your morning ritual involves having a cup of coffee at 8 a.m., 25 percent of that caffeine will still be in your body at 8 p.m. When you do turn in for the night, any caffeine left in your body will result in reduced REM sleep–the deep sleep your body needs to recharge.” — Laura Montini, Inc.com
No wonder I would have random nights where my mind just wouldn’t turn off in the middle of the night. I usually have a cup around 10 a.m. or even later sometimes. I’m not blaming it solely on coffee, and I’m sure it will happen again. But nothing has compared to the type of sleep I’ve been getting lately. It’s incredible.
What we have to remember is that caffeine is in fact a drug. The above-linked article mentions that most of us have that feel-good, do-anything feeling naturally, but when you are addicted to caffeine, you only get a short burst of it when you drink it because it lessens your withdrawals. I know you are all thinking this is crazy, and I would have too. But the results I’ve seen in the last week are drastic. I feel great throughout the day, not like I need to lie down and that the world is crumbling by mid-afternoon. That consistent, stable feeling is why I’m choosing to forego coffee on a regular basis. I urge you to give it a shot and see if it helps you with your workload.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the withdrawals were pretty bad. Most of which was the ever-present headache that would not go away. I did a little research and found out this is because caffeine constricts the blood flow to your head, so when it’s not there, blood is rushing to your brain again and causing intense pressure. You will also be a bit lethargic in the evenings. There were a couple nights that I wanted to do nothing but curl into a ball, watch Netflix and pass out before 10pm.
But it was all worth it in the end. Find your favorite tea, take some ibuprofen, and ride it out. I’m thinking of handling coffee as a nice treat once in a while, because I LOVE the stuff just like you do. Nothing beats a strong cappuccino with brunch or a perfect artisan latte from a local roaster. But maybe these should just be treats once in a while. You might appreciate them more, and get some more work done.
Have you already or thought about cutting coffee out of your routine to be more productive? Let me know your own experience in the comments!