Changing Habits

Take a Break from Coffee – Not a Coffee Break

How taking a break form coffee improves productivity
wrote this on December 8, 2011 / 4 comments

The smell, the taste, the steamy warm feeling you get when you hold the mug during cold winter mornings…

Coffee is without a doubt one of the cornerstones of our lives, fueling our days (and nights) with “wake up juice” that keeps us productive even in the harshest non-sleep conditions.  We consume 3.1 cups of coffee per day and coffee sales are increasing at a rate of 20% per year in the US alone…That’s a lot of coffee! But do we really need so much coffee to get things done?

It began during my childhood

I remember when I was a kid I hated the taste of coffee because it was not sweet; I actually thought it was disgusting since it didn’t taste like chocolate.

As I grew up, my sense of taste changed.  I wanted to be more like my parents and sipped the brown elixir of grownups every opportunity I had.  By the time I reached college, coffee was a good indicator for “my productivity” and my social life…

  • I met friends in coffee shops and drank espresso and it felt great.
  • When I hit the books, coffee kept me up and running during the late nights and the harsh mornings that followed, “Can’t focus? Pour yourself some coffee” – there are no “I was too tired” excuses during college!

By the time I got out of college, I was drinking about 4-5 mugs on average per day, with a steady increase of one mug per year.

Coffee break with IQTELL

After a few years of having a cool, trendy, yet well hidden mini-addiction, my lingo changed from “I want another” to “I need one more”.  I felt like I always needed a cup to go with my brain activity…I realized that pretty soon I’ll have a problem that will probably cost me my health and my sanity.

When you’re body tells you it’s time to go to sleep, he’s not saying – drink more coffee!

Usually when you don’t know anything about detox, you go cold turkey.  I emptied the kitchen of caffeine (probably somewhere between $50 – $100 worth of products that contained caffeine), told Sergio – my favorite barista goodbye (not without tears) and hit the brick wall of fatigue the very next day!

After regrouping, I realized that I’m fighting against a symptom of the underlying real problem.

Drinking coffee became such a need for me because I wanted to keep working and feel productive.  Keeping yourself at top performance and actually being productive is a function of your organization, methods, and giving your body enough sleep.  Since I did not focus on organization in my earlier years (who does?), my method was a simple 3 step process:

  1. Procrastinate.
  2. Drink a lot of coffee.
  3. Cram everything the night before.

After uncovering the root cause of my coffee addition, I focused on getting organized and coming to the “revelation” that when you’re body tells you that he’s tired, he’s not saying – drink more coffee!

I started planning my days to get everything done and get a good night sleep…

Planning the day or week ahead helped me not only to sleep better; it also improved my productivity, ability to concentrate, and helped me reach my goals.

I am happy to announce that I’ve reduce my caffeine consumption to 1-2 cups a day.  I decided not to detox completely since there are some health benefits to drinking coffee sanely :)

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  • http://www.theothersideoforganized.com Linda Samuels

    It’s all about doing some searching and finding the balance that’s right for you. Great post, Haim. It’s very honest and I’m sure this will resonate with many people. I have to laugh. I read it as I was just finishing my morning cup of coffee (decaf.) I keep my coffee consumption also to 1-2 cups daily. Of course chocolate is an entirely different matter! :)

    • http://iqtell.com/ Team IQTELL

      Reading a morning blog with a cup of coffee sounds quite productive…a good habit to have :)

  • http://www.calahansolutions.com Stephanie LH Calahan

    I can appreciate your story Haim.  I too was once a multi-pot-a-day coffee drinker.  I dropped coffee about 3 years ago for my health reasons and I’m glad that I did.  Your point about organization and getting the right sleep is really key.  The one other point I’ll bring to the discussion is your water consumption.  Many people don’t realize that when you drink caffeine you can get dehydrated.  Since our brain is largely comprised of water, dehydration causes foggy thinking and difficulty making decisions.  Then, we jump for another jolt of coffee, thus making the circle go round and round.  I have found rather than jumping for coffee, I go for a great big glass of spring water.  Works every time!

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