But first, Coffee: The Right Way to Drink Coffee for Productivity

April 4, 2022

Reading Time: 9 minutes

But first, Coffee: The Right Way to Drink Coffee for Productivity

Whether you’re a coffee drinker, a green tea lover, or you’ve aways got a Diet Coke nearby, caffeine is helping many of us get through the day – or at least the morning. Now that I’m a mom of two and my sleep is interrupted nearly every night, my coffee intake has skyrocketed.

coffee for productivity

Episode 118 is all about staying awake.

If you’re caught up on the show, then you know that I’m the mom of two adorable precious girls who love to interrupt my beauty sleep just about every night.

My three year old, Camilla, is currently somewhere between afraid of the dark and afraid to sleep by herself, so more than a few nights lately, she’s ended up in a sleeping bag next to my bed.

And my one year old is just doing typical one-year-old things and letting out the most high pitched screams I’ve ever heard in my entire life every night around 3am.

Most nights I’m pulled out of bed for at least an hour getting someone back to sleep.

As you can imagine – that makes the next day pretty routinely rough. My coffee intake has skyrocketed and what used to be my morning cup, has turned into my morning cup, plus my second morning cup, followed by my afternoon cup.

All this coffee drinking got me curious about coffee and productivity. But not just coffee – what about caffeine in general if you’re not into coffee. 

Is it possible to drink coffee for productivity? Is there a best way to drink caffeine? The answer might just surprise you, and that’s exactly what I’m talking about in this episode.

So today, we’re talking about

  • How much caffeine is too much caffeine
  • Why you should be adding water to your caffeine routine
  • When to look out for your caffeine crash
  • The right way to drink coffee for productivity

The Restorative Retreat by The School of Styling

If you’re a small business owner, you’ll definitely want to listen up and consider joining me at The Restorative Retreat by The School of Styling. 

Owning a business can be hard. To-do lists are long, and you wonder if you’re really doing the things that move the needle. You want to use your time well and serve your people well, without depleting yourself in the process. 

The Restorative Retreat is happening over three beautiful and inspiring days at The Estate at Charropin Beach in historic Covington, Louisiana. From June 21 through the 23rd, join us for intimate workshops your business needs to grow and thrive, plus space to reflect and implement new practices, yoga poolside, mastermind groups on the porch, nature walks along the river, delicious cocktails over conversation, all in a setting that feels like a little slice of heaven.

I can’t wait to see you there, and if you have any questions about whether the restorative retreat is the right fit for you, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Is it possible to drink for productivity?

If grabbing a coffee or some jolt of caffeine is part of your morning routine, you’re not alone.

On average, adults consume somewhere in the range of 110 to 260 milligrams of caffeine every day.

Or 2 Grande Peppermint Mochas from starbucks.

That’s 2 little bottles of 5 Hour Energy – which I haven’t had one of those since a bachelorette party in 2011.

That’s 3 Red Bulls.

5 Diet Cokes

Or 9 cups of green tea That adds up to about 2 and a half cups of coffee.

According to the FDA, healthy adults should limit caffeine consumption to 400 milligrams max.

Here’s the link to that chart of the caffeine content of the different drinks I mentioned during the episode.

Too much caffeine can lead to restlessness, jitters and insomnia. If you’ve ever had the coffee jitters, you know they’re not fun. 

But don’t misunderstand me here – I’m definitely not telling you to give up caffeine. I’m certainly not giving it up anytime soon. 

Instead, here are three tips to help drink coffee for productivity without overdoing it. I’ll probably use coffee as an example a good bit, but if you’re a soda drinker, if you love energy drinks or you’re a big fan of green tea – it’s less about the drink itself, and more about the caffeine. Just wanted to get us on the same page. Awesome.

coffee for productivity

Coffee Tip #1: Don’t drink coffee as soon as you wake up

Turns out, a caffeinated beverage right after you wake up can actually decrease your body’s natural energy levels. Well that’s basically the opposite of what we were going for, right? 

In his book “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing,” author Daniel Pink says that the best time to have your first cup of coffee is about 60-90 minutes after you wake up. That’s because caffeine interferes with the production of cortisol, the hormone that signals your body to be awake and responsive. Cortisol levels usually peak around 8:30 a.m. 

Remember back in Episode 117 where we talked about morning larks, night owls and third birds? That’s the natural energy peak that larks and third birds feel, and that’s the rebound that night owls feel. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, go listen to Episode 117 and find out whether you’re a morning lark, a night owl or a third bird. 

Dan Pink says that people reach for a cup of coffee in the morning in an almost addictive way, but we’re much better off letting our cortisol peak, naturally, then when it starts to decline, come in and hit it with a caffeine boost from coffee.

Instead of heading straight to the coffee pot when your eyes open, consider drinking a glass of ice water. 

I actually shared this tip back in episode 93 Quick And Easy: 7 Simple Productivity Hacks That Could Change Everything. By the way, that is my most downloaded episode of all time, so if you haven’t listened to that one yet you don’t want to miss it.

When you drink a glass of ice water right when you wake up, you’re rehydrating yourself after 6-8 hours of fasting. Ice water helps you feel more alert, and supposedly there are benefits like jump starting your metabolism and helping you flush out toxins. 

To make this morning step a no-brainer – especially because I am NOT a morning person, I fill up an insulated tumbler with ice water and place it on my nightstand before bed. When I wake up, it’s right there and ready for me without having to make my way to the kitchen to fill a glass. Once I’ve had my glass of water, I enjoy a delicious cup of that life-giving coffee.

Do I wait until an hour after I wake up like Dan Pink recommends? No. No I do not. We’re talking like 15 minutes max. Maybe I’ll consider experimenting with waiting just to see if I feel a difference…  but don’t hold your breath. 

And yes – Just because something is recommended by an expert doesn’t mean I’m going to do it. Sometimes you’ve got to do what’s right for you.

Coffee Tip #2: If you drink more than one cup of coffee, drink a full glass of water between cups. 

So start the day with water… then have coffee for productivity. Then water…. And then another coffee if you want. That’s a lot of liquid.

Yes, you’ll probably be making lots more trips to the bathroom, but just consider it a great way to get your steps in.

Coffee – and actually all caffeinated drinks to some degree are diuretics – that means that they dehydrate your body. And the acidity of coffee and sodas can irritate your stomach. 

When you drink a glass of water between multiple caffeinated drinks, you’re able to replenish what the caffeine has dehydrated. And, disclaimer – I am not a dentist, but I’ve also read that drinking water right after having coffee can also reduce your chances of coffee staining your teeth. Of course, actually brushing your teeth is always your best bet, but drinking water is a good second option. 

Coffee Tip #3: Watch out for the dreaded caffeine crash.

A caffeine crash can look a little like this: feeling super tired in the middle of the day, trouble focusing, feeling irritable, and generally feeling out of it! For some, a caffeine crash can feel stronger, providing a hangover-like experience with nausea and headaches.

Basically, the opposite of what you were hoping for when you drank coffee in the first place.

Now here’s the interesting thing about the caffeine crash. As I was researching for this episode, I found a lot of conflicting info on when the crash actually happens. 

Some articles said the crash is typically 3-4 hours after having caffeine, but some said that it takes 8-14 hours for caffeine to metabolize… 

So here’s what I take from that – pay attention to your body. Whenever you drink coffee or caffeine next, pay attention to when you feel yourself losing focus or feeling fatigued. I’ll admit, sometimes it’s hard for me to tell if I’m tired because I was up from 3-4 rocking a baby, or if I’m tired because I’m caffeine crashing. 

Whenever you begin to recognize when you typically crash, here’s what you can do with that info.

Set your deadline

First – use it to set your caffeine deadline for the day. I know that if I’m going to have an afternoon coffee for productivity, I’ve got to start it around 2:15 and no later than 3:00. Any later than that and the caffeine affects my sleep.

Use it strategically

Second – when you know your crash time, you can use it strategically – let’s say you know you want to go to sleep at a certain time, or you want to sleep on a flight. If you know that your coffee crash happens at around the 5 hour mark, then have a cup of coffee about 5 hours before your flight, or whatever thing you want to fall asleep for. 

It’s an interesting little hack, especially since normally when we think of caffeine – we think of staying awake – not using it to strategically be tired. 

And you know – I know I said there’d be three tips, but I’m throwing in a bonus tip 

When he was writing the book The Productivity Project, Chris Bailey did tons of different productivity experiments to find out what worked and what didn’t. One of those experiments included giving up all forms of caffeine, alcohol and sugary drinks for an entire month to see what would happen.

He found that without alcohol, his energy skyrocketed, particularly on weekends. Plus – the amount of energy he had was stable, and didn’t fluctuate as much. Without caffeine, he learned that our bodies adapt to the amount of caffeine we have on a regular basis.

When your body adapts to caffeine

So let’s say you’re new to coffee. You have a cup for productivity in the morning – you feel super alert and focused. You have your one cup of coffee every morning, but after a while, you just don’t feel the same alert, focused feeling you once had. So you add a second cup of coffee, and it’s back. After that second cup, you’re feeling awake and ready for anything. But then… after a while… you guessed it, you notice you’re not quite as alert and focused as you once were… and do you see where this is going?

If you have a cup of coffee at the same time every morning, that becomes your body’s new normal. And with that new normal, it’s almost as if you didn’t drink any coffee at all. 

So if you really want to be strategic about coffee for productivity, instead of having a coffee habit, have a cup of coffee when you really need to focus, and only when you really need to focus. 
Again, I will not be doing this. I’m going to continue enjoying my morning cup about 15 minutes after my glass of water each morning. But if you want to try it, it really sounds like this is the most productive way to drink coffee – or your caffeinated beverage of choice. Not habitually, but strategically, when you need it. Yes -there is a right way to drink coffee for productivity.

Finally – shout out to Morgan Smith, a writer for CNBC make it. We talked a few weeks about how to set better work/life boundaries when you’re working from home and I mentioned I was working on an episode about coffee. She sent over this link to a story she’d written all about the right and wrong way to drink coffee. I loved that she included not drinking coffee as soon as you wake up, since I’ve been doing that one for years and love When by Dan Pink. Thanks Morgan!

Links & Resources Mentioned in Episode 117

coffee for productivity


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