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Published on December 11, 2020

Does Coffee Really Improve Work Performance? [Experiment + Infographic]

Does Coffee Really Improve Work Performance? [Experiment + Infographic]

It’s hard to imagine an office without a coffee machine. If you recall the morning atmosphere in a standard pre-pandemic office environment, you’d probably think of several colleagues standing around a coffee machine chatting or heading to a meeting with a coffee mug in their hand.

For most, this is not their first coffee of the day. The majority of people reach for a cup of the energizing brew soon after they open their eyes in the morning – 65% of all coffee is consumed during breakfast hours.[1]

Coffee is not only a cult drink but also an industry with millions of jobs worldwide related to its production, distribution, and serving. With 64% of Americans drinking at least one cup of joe per day,[2] coffee has become a staple of everyday work life – be it in the office or in a remote work setting.

The Experiment: Coffee Machine + Productivity Tracker

Even the smell of coffee stimulates energetic and productive vibes. But how much of the coffee phenomenon is just our imagination and self-suggestion? And how substantial is the scientific part behind it?

That’s what we set out to find out with an office experiment (conducted before the pandemic and the remote work wave). We used the Draugiem Group as a sample base – an office space with approximately 150 employees of different tech-based companies. As all the people in this office use DeskTime productivity tracking software and almost all of them drink coffee, we decided to explore how coffee impacts their performance.

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We connected the office coffee machine to a telemetry device[3] that counted the number of coffees made and at which times during the day. Later we cross-referenced the peak coffee consumption times with the spikes in work performance from the DeskTime software. The experiment lasted for a week.

The Results: Wake up and Smell the Coffee!

In one day, an average of 215 coffees are consumed within the Draugiem Group office. With just over 100 employees, that averages out to about two coffees per employee. But what did we learn when cross-referencing coffee drinking stats with data from productivity tracking software?

First of all, we confirmed that coffee does increase the overall work performance of office workers. Productivity levels soared for most of the people right after drinking coffee, peak consumption times being around 9am, and then again roughly at 12:30am.

However, the productivity upsurge didn’t last long.

Within 2.5 hours after coffee consumption, employee work performance levels went as low as they possibly could – even lower than before workers set out to make their coffees. This means that coffee could provide only a temporary productivity boost.

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Does Science Agree?

Scientists have long-since touted the benefits of coffee – the energy boost thanks to caffeine, the antioxidants that stave off the damage caused by free radicals. However, coffee has also been known to have negative effects – dehydration, insomnia, and addiction, to name a few.

The results of our experiment are in line with what scientists say about coffee’s impact on productivity. Caffeine has been proven to provide a short-term increase in cognitive performance after being ingested. 200mg of coffee has been found to help identify words and phrases faster.[4]

However, this effect wears off in time. Our findings support that, in fact, the post-caffeine slump is inevitable and a tangible thing. And rather than returning to your beginning position of productivity, you dip far below your default caffeine-less self.

Coffee can be seen as a temporary solution for reducing the feeling of tiredness and enhancing brain performance.[5] However, similar to nicotine addiction, caffeine addicts are rarely brought back to their average comfort & energy levels after the initial boost dies down. Instead, their energy – and productivity – levels keep falling until the next cup of coffee saves the day.

How Coffee Impacts Your Productivity [Infographic]

This infographic will help you understand how coffee works and how it impacts your productivity.

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    How to Consume Caffine Smartly and Improve Work Performance

    We credit caffeine to start our day, often citing it as a driving force behind our ability to work. No wonder coffee has become the most pervasive drug throughout America, with 25% of coffee drinkers identifying as addicted to coffee.[6]

    That said, there’s no harm in drinking coffee if you do it smartly and with moderation. Follow these tips to benefit from your relationship with caffeine:

    1. Study your own productivity routine and choose to drink coffee at times when you feel you need it most.

    Record the times when you drink coffee and note the effects that it has on you. If you feel more alert and productive, how long does this effect last? If a couple of hours later you feel lower than ever, does the next cup of coffee bring instant recovery?

    Also, choose to drink coffee between 10 and 11:30 AM and between 2 and 5 PM, when your cortisol levels dip naturally. Your body will most appreciate a caffeine boost at these times.

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    To improve your memory, drink a cup of coffee right after a learning event (not before).

    2. Substitute coffee drinking with a walk or exercise.

    There are many other ways to boost your productivity apart from drinking coffee. For example, a study of 10% most productive employees found that 52 minutes of focused work and 17 minutes of breaking is one of the most productive workday patterns.[7] There are also many office exercises that help your brain relax and reload while bringing many health benefits to your body.

    3. Switch to beverages that contain smaller amounts of caffeine.

    Tea is a good example and it offer plenty of benefits. You may want to consider green tea, oolong tea, or early grey tea.

    4. Next time you’re in a good mood, take a cup of joe to prolong that feeling.

    It is proven that coffee stimulates the release of dopamine that produces euphoria and pleasant feelings.

    Whatever your coffee-drinking habits, be careful not to find yourself inside a daily vicious circle pumped by caffeine!

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    More About Coffee And Productivity

    Featured photo credit: BRUNO EMMANUELLE via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Ieva Sipola

    Ieva helps tech startups access big markets and is a passionate advocate of alternative work formats.

    How Social Media Can Hurt Your Job Search And Your Future Career How to Change Your Mindset for a Happy And Successful Life Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress Does Coffee Really Improve Work Performance? [Experiment + Infographic] How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

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    Last Updated on June 22, 2021

    How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    Every one of my team members has a bucket load of tasks that they need to deal with every working day. On top of that, most of their tasks are either creative tasks or problem-solving tasks. Each one of them has had to learn how to prioritize tasks in order to get everything done.

    Despite having many tasks to handle, our team is able to stay focused and creative and work towards our goals consistently in a set amount of time.

    I’m going to reveal to you how I helped my team get more things done in less time through the power of correct prioritization. A few minutes spent reading this article could literally save you thousands of hours in the long run. So, let’s get started with my method on how to prioritize things:

    How to Prioritize With the Scales Method

    One of our new editors came to me the other day and told me how she was struggling to keep up with the many tasks she needed to handle and the deadlines she constantly needed to stick to.

    At the end of each day, she felt like she had done a lot of things but often failed to come up with creative ideas and to get articles successfully published. From what she told me, it was obvious that she felt overwhelmed and was growing increasingly frustrated about failing to achieve her targets despite putting in extra hours most days. All of this was making it impossible for her to develop a good work life balance in the long term.

    After she listened to my advice about utilizing the Scales Method, she immediately experienced a dramatic rise in productivity, which looked like this:

    • She could produce three times more creative ideas for blog articles.
    • She could publish all her articles on time.
    • And she could finish all her work on time every day (no more overtime!).

    If you’re curious how she did it, read on for the step-by-step guide:

    1. Set Aside 10 Minutes for Planning

    When it comes to tackling productivity issues, it makes sense to plan before taking action. However, don’t become so involved in planning that you become trapped in it and never move beyond first base.

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    My recommendation is to give yourself a specific time period for planning, but keep it short. 10 or 15 minutes should be adequate to think about your plan.

    Use this time to:

    • Look at the big picture.
    • Think about the current goal and target that you need/want to achieve.
    • Lay out all the tasks you need to do.

    2. Align Your Tasks With Your Goal

    This is the core component that makes the Scales Method effective as you learn how to prioritize.

    It works like this:

    Take a look at all the tasks you’re doing, and review the importance of each of them. Specifically, measure a task’s importance by its cost and benefit.

    By cost, I am referring to the effort needed per task (including time, money, and other resources). The benefit is how closely the task can contribute to your goal.

      To make this easier for you, I’ve listed below four combinations that will enable you to quickly and easily determine the priority of each of your tasks:

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      Low Cost + High Benefit

      Do these tasks first because they’re the simplest ones to complete, but they’ll help you get closer to your goal.

      Approving artwork created for a sales brochure would likely fit this category. You could easily decide on whether you liked the artwork/layout, but your decision to approve it would trigger the production of the leaflet and the subsequent sales benefits of sending it out to potential customers.

      High Cost + High Benefit

      Break the high cost task down into smaller ones. In other words, break the big task into mini ones that take less than an hour to complete, and then re-evaluate these small tasks and set their correct priority level.

      Imagine if you were asked to write a product launch plan for a new, diary-free, protein powder supplement. Instead of trying to write the plan in one sitting, aim to write the different sections at different times (e.g. spend 30 minutes writing the introduction, one hour writing the body text, and 30 minutes writing the conclusion).

      Low Cost + Low Benefit

      When learning how to prioritize time and tasks, this particular combination should be your lowest priority. Either give yourself 10-15 minutes to handle this task, or put these kinds of tasks in between valuable tasks as a useful break.

      These are probably necessary tasks (e.g. routine tasks like checking emails), but they don’t contribute much towards reaching your desired goal. Keep them way down your priority list.

      High Cost + Low Benefit

      Review if these tasks are really necessary. Think of ways to reduce the cost if you decide that the completion of the task is required.

      For instance, can any tools or systems help to speed up doing the task? In this category, you’re likely to find things like checking and updating sales contacts spreadsheets. This can be a fiddly and time-consuming thing to do without making mistakes. However, there are plenty of apps out there that can make this process instant and seamless.

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      Now, coming back to the editor who I referred to earlier, let’s take a look at her typical daily task list:

        After listening to my advice, she broke down the high cost + high benefit task into smaller ones. Her tasks then looked like this (in order of priority):

          And for the task about promoting articles to different platforms, after reviewing its benefits, we decided to focus on the most effective platform only, thereby significantly lowering the associated time cost.

          Once you’ve effectively analyzed the cost and benefits of your daily tasks, you can dive into this Full Life Planner to make sure you complete everything on your list in the best way possible.

          Bonus Tip: Tackling Tasks With Deadlines

          Once you’ve evaluated your tasks, you’ll know the importance of each of them. This will immediately give you a crystal-clear picture on how to prioritize based on which tasks would help you to achieve more (in terms of setting goals). Sometimes, however, you won’t be able to decide every task’s priority because there’ll be due dates set by external parties, such as managers and agencies.

          In cases like these, I suggest that, after considering the importance and values of your current tasks, align the list in a way that helps you meet deadlines and adjust the priorities accordingly.

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          For example, let’s dip into the editor’s world again.

          Some of the articles she edited needed to be published by specific dates, so these are urgent and important tasks. The Scales Method allows for this, and in this case, her amended task list would look something like this:

            Hopefully, you can now see how easy it is to evaluate the importance of tasks and how to prioritize them into a workable order.

            The Bottom Line

            The Scales Method is different from anything else you’ve tried. By adopting the Scales Method, you’ll begin to correctly prioritize your work and boost your productivity by up to 10 times!

            Unlike other methods that don’t really explain how to decide the importance of a task, my method will help you break down each of your tasks into two parts: cost and benefit. My method will also help you to take follow-up action based on different cost and benefit combinations, which can boost your career development overall.

            Start right now by spending 10 minutes to evaluate your common daily tasks and how they align with your goal(s). Once you have this information, it’ll be very easy to put your tasks into a priority list. All that remains is that you kick off your next working day by following your new master list.

            More Productivity Tips

            Featured photo credit: Scott Graham via unsplash.com

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