Archive | Productivity

Preserving the Power of Coffee

The Best Part of Waking Up

You wake up, slip on your slippers. It’s 6 am. The world is just waking up, and you with it. First stop, bathroom. Second stop, the coffee maker. You make your AeroPress, or French press, or drip coffee, or whatever you like. It’s not about the coffee at this point, it’s about the ritual.

Their coffee might not be great, but Folgers had one thing right – it’s the best part of waking up.

Coffee is a wonderful beverage, habit, ritual, bringer together, and so much more. Even Jerry Seinfeld has an entire TV show based on it.

It’s also a tool. Coffee, or more specifically, caffeine, is a wonderful tool used by millions to give them energy, to open their minds, and to produce a more profound level work. I don’t mean those who drink coffee to wake up. No, I mean the people that know the true magic of coffee. A cup of coffee before writing can unlock worlds. Tim Ferriss was the first to introduce me to the use of caffeine as a tool, and I’ve used it ever since.

It’s self-medication, alright. In the best possible way.

But the effect of caffeine wears off over time. You build a tolerance to it. And like a crack addict chasing his first high, you can never get the same boost that you used to get. Especially if you consume it daily.

If you’re a daily drinker, then your body has probably built up quite a resistance to caffeine, and it might be time for a coffee reset.

Ever wonder why coffee works? ASAPScience breaks it down:

How to Keep the High

There’s a really simple technique for preserving that coffee high. And it’s going to be awfully painful for some of you to try, but I guarantee when it’s over, you’ll love it.

Quit drinking coffee for a week. That’s it. If you want to return to that amazing original effect coffee used to have, then quit drinking for a week. Every 4 weeks.

That’s right, every 4th week, drink absolutely no coffee. Why every 4th? 3 weeks on coffee is not enough to develop any dependency, and thus, you avoid the dreaded caffeine headaches.

If you want to go longer, that’s fine – experiment with it – maybe 6 weeks is better, or 8. But for me, it’s every 4th week. Three on, one off.

Set it up in your calendar, and set it on repeat. I go Monday to Sunday, but you might go Sunday to Saturday, if you’d like to have a day to ease into it.

Blast this Infernal Headache!

The first time you try going off coffee, you will almost certainly have horrid headaches. If that’s the case, you can power through them, and just drink plenty of water.

If the headaches are too much to deal with, then try cutting a glass of water with just a dash or two of coffee. Alternatively, if you have good coffee beans around, try munching on a few of them. Your caffeine headache will be gone in minutes.

Spend a few days weaning yourself off, then go a full week without coffee. If you’re a super-addict, then your first week off should be 1 week of reduced consumption (or decaf) and a second week with no coffee whatsoever.

Try this once. That’s all I ask of you – and after a week of no coffee, your first cup back will have some of that magical power you’ve been missing. The first time you do it, it might suck, but every time after that will be easy, and the payoff will be oh so sweet.

How do I know it? I haven’t written a blog post in over a year, and I just published one after my first cup back.

After a week off, the first cup of coffee is amazing.

My first coffee after a week-long hiatus

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Get your S!%T Done by Staying Accountable

You have goals. You have plans. You have a to-do list. Great. Awesome. You’re super!

I have goals. I have plans. I have a to-do list. I have not been great. I have not been awesome. I have not been super. I’ve been in a slump. This is a lack-of-focus slump. I am all over the place right now – starting lots of things, then not finishing them.

Having a to-do list is great, but it’s only the first step.

How in the world do you ensure you actually do stuff? For that, you need to keep yourself accountable. There are a few techniques you can use – I’ll tell you what I do.

I have been struggling recently to finish things, and to not drift into a Simpson’s or Frasier marathon. (One episode, just one more, that’s all I need…) So I searched all of my resources looking for help, and this concept popped up. I now use a Daily Accountability Form (I have it bookmarked as Accountabil-a-Buddy)

I stole the idea from Noah Kagan (who stole it from someone else) to create an accountability form. He uses it for marketing efforts with his team – it looks something like this:

I created a daily accountability form for myself using Google Drive. For those of you who don’t know how to create a form – look below for the video to do it yourself.
My form looks like a bit more polished than Noah’s – I used some formatting, but it took me 10 minutes tops to set it up.
The results are populated automatically into a spreadsheet with a timestamp.
My Neatly Organized Responses to Myself
So now I get a reminder every night at 10:00pm telling me to go do my accountability form. I fill out 6 questions, though they may change as my life goes forward.
  • How good do you feel about your day? (1-10)
  • What were three things you accomplished today?
  • What is one thing you could have done better?
  • Did you write something today? (Yes/No)
  • Did you eat 1 salad today? (Yes/No)
  • How good was your day really? (1-10)
The reason I ask myself to rank my day twice is that I want two measures. How I perceived my day to have been. Then, after thinking about what I did, deciding how good my day really was. I am measuring this to see if how I felt about my day is actually tied to how much I got done. It’s all data!
The best thing about this is that I can go back pretty much forever and see when I was most effective. If I see results in my other tracking (weight, cholesterol, bank account, etc.) I can look at the corresponding dates in my accountability form and see if I was doing something specific that led to more benefits. This is the same thing Nev from NevBlog does with his infamous to-do lists.
Then, of course, I wrap up my form with an inspiring image…

 What to Include in your Accountabil-a-buddy questions

I used a simple method to determine what questions to ask: I made them up.
However – the two Yes/No questions were generated based on habits I have developed, would like to develop, or have previously developed but am slipping on.
For example, I have been slipping on eating a truly nutritious diet, (I haven’t been eating unhealthily, but have not been a shining example of health like I have been in the past) and my weight loss has stagnated, so I added the one salad a day requirement. (edit: After less than one week doing this, I lost 8 pounds, and it appears my weight loss has started up again)
Every month or so, I write out the habits and lifestyle choices that are important to me. This is basically an audit of my behaviorS – at least what I wish it to be. It changes vastly over time, but a few key pieces tend to stay put.
My Desired Habits at a snapshot in time
I now take one or two items from this list which are not currently well-ingrained habits, and I add them to my Accountability Form. In this case, writing daily, and eating a salad. If it weren’t for my “write once a day habit” this post would not have been started, and you might not be reading it right now.
In this case, I’ve categorized it as Health, Wealth, and Love to help me focus. As you can tell, I’ve chosen to hyper-focus on health. That is due to my health being considerably lower than it should be, so I’m playing catch up.

Set up your own Accountabil-a-buddy

  1. Perform an audit of your current, desired, and potentially slipping habits
  2. Choose one to three of them that you’d like to focus on this month
  3. Create a Google Form with your questions (if you don’t know how, watch the video below)
  4. Bookmark the input form – make it #1 on your bookmarks bar
  5. Set up a reminder to do this daily (Any.do, Google Calendar, Outlook, Phone alarm, A note hanging above your bed, whatever)
That’s all it takes. I can already see myself being more effective with this Accountabil-a-Buddy, and I am clawing myself out of a slump I’ve been in.

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