Your energy drives your productivity.
It’s no wonder coffee is seen as a cheat code to being more productive. But there’s a downside. Over time our bodies can build up a resistance to coffee. The productivity superpower can then be severely limited.
Most people, including me, overdo coffee. I’ve found a better approach to coffee you can use that helps me do some of the best work of my life.
Your Mind on Coffee
Michael Pollan wrote the book “This Is Your Mind On Plants.” In an interview, he shared his experience of quitting coffee for three months after Roland Griffiths, a leading expert on caffeine, said, “You’ll never understand your relationship to caffeine until you get off it.”
What came next was unexpected. Michael says, “One of the most powerful drug experiences I’ve had in my life was the first cup of coffee after three months off. It was psychedelic. It was incredible.”
I’d never heard of coffee being thought of as psychedelic.
Coffee alters consciousness. Michael says it “felt like there was this vail between me and reality” with coffee. He goes on to explain that a lot of what we describe as our self is actually a “caffeinated self.” Baseline consciousness is caffeinated. It’s weird to wonder what we were like before coffee.
Odd History of Coffee
Coffee was discovered in the 800s. The Arab world had coffee from the 1200s. Is that why they had so much science and literature back then? Who knows. One theory is that coffee in the Arab world led to a phenomenal golden age.
Writer Wolfgang Schivelbusch, who wrote “Tastes of Paradise,” says coffee is the perfect drug for mathematics. A lot later after the boom of mathematics, coffee went mainstream in the 1650s.
Coffee is one of the few drugs where we have a before and after. Human consciousness was very different before caffeine and that’s a fascinating thought to ponder. Did coffee lead to the industrial revolution? Possibly.
Capitalism would never have been so effective without coffee. The next iteration of coffee came in the 1940s when a Denver nick-tie company accidentally invented the “coffee break.”
The company’s workers struggled to make ties for more than 4–5 hours, so they introduced coffee breaks. Productivity exploded and they had a huge competitive advantage. The coffee break has been part of the workday ever since. Coffee equals more money for business. And caffeine in coffee is a legal drug used all over the world.
Think deeply about this idea: Your employer gives you a drug and time to consume it. Pretty freaking weird when you think about it.
The Superhuman Productivity Benefits of Coffee
I’ve quit coffee several times. I find getting addicted to coffee to be problematic. If I need coffee to function, I’m a mess.
The trick is to *not* drink coffee every day.
Daily coffee is addictive and trying to quit it will leave you with withdrawal symptoms. Too much of a good thing is bad, remember? I’ve found strategic coffee use to be much better. Only drink coffee on certain days. After I gave up coffee for a long time, I went back to drinking a small teaspoon once a week. Now I drink coffee only on my writing days — Thursdays and Saturdays.
Coffee is a must for flow states
My research into flow states is what made me fall in love with coffee again. Caffeine kickstarts a flow state and allows me to get focused. Without flow states, I’d never of written thousands of stories online. Coffee enables my flow state to begin and last until around 5–6pm.
Coffee causes ideas to overflow out of my brain
I’m an idea machine on coffee. Even after I finish writing, the ideas keep coming to me. I’ll try and do housework and my brain simply can’t stop.
Coffee stops me from procrastinating with creative tasks and pushes me over the edge. I don’t overthink. I simply take coffee-induced action.
Coffee is a mental bookmark
Coffee has become a trigger for doing my best work. I’ve trained my brain to understand that on coffee days, the two of us sit down, come up with ideas for writing, and execute on them. I’ve repeated this habit so many times that my brain now associates coffee with deep work and placing overthinking on hold for the day.
Coffee makes me feel like working
Some days I’m a blob of goo stuck to the couch. Coffee makes me feel like working. After I’ve finished writing, I can then go and do a task that should have been done weeks ago. Like yesterday — coffee helped me put old clothes into a vacuum-seal bag and pack them away. This should have been done weeks ago but I didn’t feel like it. Coffee makes you feel productive.
Coffee is motivation
Drinking coffee is an experience. It tastes good and warms the soul. By restricting the days when I can drink coffee, I now look forward to it much more and it motivates me on days where deep work needs to happen.
The coffee hack for sleep
I’ve found drinking coffee between 6am-7am to be the best. If you consume coffee too late in the day, it messes with your sleep. People who drink coffee after dinner blow my mind. You’re literally asking for a bad night’s sleep.
Coffee equals productivity and sleep equals non-productivity.
Let the effects of coffee wear off long before bedtime so you sleep, regain energy, and wake up fresh.
This is how to avoid coffee addiction
Drinking coffee 1–2 times a week works great and will help you not become addicted. I’ve found holidays from coffee are important too. When I go on vacation for two weeks a couple of times a year, I have a rule: no coffee while on holiday. This break from coffee helps reset my brain. Try it.
Bringing it all together
There’s no doubt coffee helps us be more productive. The trick is to balance the benefits of coffee with the addictive features it has as a drug.
Try drinking coffee once a week when you need to be extremely productive and focus deeply. Coffee and flow states can help you do some of the best work of your life.