5 Caffeine Strategies That Help Me Get the Most Out of My Day
And 3 that don’t work
It’s the world’s 2nd largest traded commodity after crude oil
It’s 2nd most beloved beverage after water.
It’s a fruit and Beethoven loved it.
What am I talking about? Coffee, of course.
In my love-hate relationship with coffee, I’ve had months where I never missed a cup and months where I didn’t go near it. I’ve spent the last 5 years actively searching for ways to get the most out of coffee.
Whether I was a student, a writer, an entrepreneur, or a coder — these strategies have helped me use coffee to help me rather than dragging me down.
On the way, I also found some popular and obvious tips on the Internet that never worked for me. I hope this inspires you to start your never-ending experimentation with coffee and fall in love with it.
Let’s start with what works
If you’re new to the concept, it’s pretty simple — chug a cup of coffee as fast as you can and then go for a 20-minute nap. To make it easier, put ice in your coffee so that you have no problems drinking it quickly.
It has been one of the most effective hacks that have helped me with my caffeine intake. The reason this works is caffeine takes about 20–30 minutes to hit your nervous system and give you a boost in energy. It goes through your intestine, enters your bloodstream, and then hits the brain.
By taking a nap, you’re well-rested. And then when you wake up, the caffeine is ready to kick your gears into action.
It’s like using a nitro.
There are not hundreds of studies to prove this but there are a few. From personal experience, it works like magic.
Let’s get this out of the way. You probably know that caffeine, sugar, alcohol, etc come with an asterisk — with every high, there’s a low. If you couple any two of these together, the damage will be worse.
First, it can interfere with your nap-a-latte routine. Second, it makes the adenosine hit harder. (A chemical that attaches to the neurons in your brain when you’re tired).
Sugar consumption is a complete demon in itself so we’ll skip that. But remember this next time you buy a drink at Starbucks or any coffee shop for that matter. Make sure it comes with no added sugar.
If you’ve been drinking coffee with sugar for a long time, it’ll be difficult to stop. It’s like having dark chocolate the first time — you have to acquire the taste before you start to love it.
Here’s how I did it. Drink almost 75% of coffee without sugar. Then add a little sugar to the amount that’s left. If 75% doesn’t seem right, switch it up. But take small steps today to cut it out over time.
Keep Your Important Tasks In Mind
Caffeine benefits performance in distinct ways, so it’s a good idea to be selective about the tasks you’ll complete when caffeine is coursing through your bloodstream.
Before you go overboard with caffeine, use it at times when you really need it. If you feel it’ll make you restless for the task at hand, then try to avoid it.
For instance, I don’t drink coffee while I’m writing because I want to be calm and rested. I want to keep my butt in the chair for as long as possible and my fingers moving as my thoughts flow. To do this, I need to minimize any restlessness or tension in the body.
On the other hand, I need coffee in the morning to get myself ready for meditation. If I’m too sleepy or groggy, I’m not able to concentrate. So an espresso shot works best for me then.
Bulletproof coffee is popularized by Dave Asprey who originally got the idea from Tibet where people drink Yak butter tea. The reason it works so well is that it has all the healthy fats you need to start the day right. This improves metabolic function and mental clarity.
The recipe is pretty simple — brew the coffee with Bulletproof upgraded beans, add 2 tablespoons of grass-fed butter, and 1 tablespoon of brain octane oil (an advanced extract of coconut oil). What you get is a latte-looking coffee that tastes much better and does not give you the crashes as a normal latte does.
Now, I’ll be honest here. I do not use the same three ingredients because I live in India and it’s not widely available here. So I use normal coffee with ghee and coconut oil. Still the results are amazing.
Avoid Jitteriness With These Fixes
We all have been in a situation where we’ve consumed too much. Either by choice or by chance. If it negatively affects your performance, here’s what you do:
Use a small cup to prevent yourself from going overboard.
Decrease the number of coffee beans or powder by just a little bit every day until you feel comfortable. Don’t go cold turkey, you’ll have terrible withdrawal symptoms.
Identify hidden sources of caffeine like dark chocolate, “decaf” drinks, coke, sodas, etc. Be mindful of how much caffeine you’re actually consuming.
Hydrate more than you think you need. It flushes the toxins out of your system
Finally, listen to your body and go to sleep. It may be best to take a nap or call it a day. Caffeine only masks fatigue — the real solution is sleep (along with proper diet and exercise, of course)
What Didn’t Work
As a coffee-lover, I’m always looking for ways to optimize it to make it taste good and feel better. Here are some popular pieces of advice I came across that didn’t work for me.
The Caffeine Sleep Rule
I’ve seen this all over the Internet and on Medium too. The general advice is, don’t have coffee 8–10 hours before you go to sleep and you’ll be fine. But I often have coffee in the afternoon and sleep by 9 pm. I’ve also had days when I have tea around 5 or 6 pm.
When I started tracking my sleep using Fitbit, I found no correlation whatsoever between the time I consumed my last cup and my sleep quality.
I still try to avoid it later in the day but I haven’t seen worse consequences when I do.
Skipping The Morning Cup
The argument here is drinking coffee first thing in the morning is not good. This is because our bodies produce energy-boosting cortisol between 8 and 9 am. Drinking coffee during high cortisol levels diminishes the effect of the caffeine itself.
Again, I drink a small cup as soon as I get up. And I get as much as a kick out of it as any other time.
Not using it for creative tasks
The common argument is that caffeine increases your speed when you’re doing repetitive tasks. But it may not be good for tasks that require cognitive power or creativity.
I’ve found this to be true sometimes but it’s not a ground-rule. My day job is in tech and I code almost 4–5 hours every day. Most of my daily coffee consumption happens between those hours and it doesn’t harm my creativity in any way.
The reason I wrote this article is to show how the strategies are different for everyone. Instead of saying “9 coffee hacks, you should try today” articles should be more focused on individual experience.
Every article comes with a line at the end — “Caffeine sensitivity is different in people so results may vary.” Which should be stated at the top of the article instead.
Don’t be dogmatic about your methods, try them to see if they work. And if they don’t, chuck them out no matter how popular or widely accepted they are.
I showed you what worked for me and what didn’t. Now, it’s your turn. Let me know what works for you down in the comments!
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