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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!

    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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    Published on April 8, 2021

    10 Simple Ways To Refocus a Wandering Mind

    10 Simple Ways To Refocus a Wandering Mind

    Want to know what Steve Jobs thought was the ultimate key in achieving success?

    “Focus and simplicity… once you get there, you can move mountains.”—Steve Jobs

    And this belief is even more important today than it was years ago. At your fingertips is a literal world of information and entertainment. So, it’s no wonder we all have such wandering minds nowadays.

    Thanks to the internet and smartphones, attention is practically a currency we should be more budget-minded about. In fact, a person who can stay focused is not only more likely to get more done but also be more satisfied at the end of the day because of it.

    Going further, a person who’s focused will more easily achieve their goals—anything from losing 20 pounds to getting a promotion at work is within the reach of this type of person.

    So, in the spirit of that idea, here are 10 ways to tame that wandering mind of yours and turn it into a laser-focused brain that gets things done.

    1. Find Your Totem

    Remember the totem in the movie, Inception? It’s an item that reminded people they weren’t in a dream when they touched it, and it was able to keep them grounded in reality.

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    You can replicate this idea when it comes to staying focused as well. All you’ve to got to do is find something to be your “focus totem,” and it’ll remind you that you should stop daydreaming and get back to work. Ideally, it’s something you can see and touch.

    In the movie, a chess piece and a spinning top were used—both are good ideas. You could also use a picture of your family, a mini trophy, or even wear a ring to focus your mind as well. (In fact, a green lantern ring might be kind of cool for this.)

    2. Promise a Reward

    Incentives are an obvious way to go. Having gold at the end of any journey makes you want to press forward just for the sweet results. In general, rewards should correlate to the difficulty/length of the work.

    For example:

    • Finish a quick house chore = a piece of chocolate
    • Complete an annoying administrative task = 10 minutes of Youtube
    • A successful day of work = a whole movie on Netflix

    Pretty simple stuff, right? But you’d be surprised how often you forget to reward yourself for doing solid work on the regular.

    3. Make It Stupid Easy for Your Wandering Mind

    I don’t know about you, but if I perceive my work to require more effort than I care to use, I’m instantly turned off. This then leads to distraction and procrastination. But you can offset this by breaking a difficult task into a bite-sized piece.

    Case in point, what seems easier: 30 pushups or 3 pushups?

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    It’s obvious, but sometimes our brains need to be “convinced” we’re only doing a small amount of work to get things going.

    But here’s something cool about this tactic: You can (and most likely will) keep going past your stupid easy benchmark. You don’t have to, but my experience tells me once you get going like this, it’s easy to go beyond your bare minimum goal.

    4. Empty Your Mind With Journaling

    Sometimes, there’s too much stuff floating around in your brain that is making your mind wander. In that case, it can help to spill everything in your head onto a journal to free up some space. You can use a pen and pad for this or something digital like Evernote.

    There are two basic ways to go about it:

    1. Freestyle – where you just write whatever randomly flows through your brain without thinking or pausing. This is great if you’ve got a million different ideas racing through your brain.
    2. Focused – where you create prompts or an outline to streamline your thinking and you just respond to the questions or format. This is best when you want to grasp a certain topic.

    5. Use the “Just 5 Minutes” Method

    Try telling yourself that you’ll work for “just 5 minutes” and then you can stop. You’ll find that the task feels far easier to handle. And like the “stupid easy” method, this tricks your brain into thinking the task is lower effort than it really is. After all, 5 minutes for even the worst task is psychologically manageable for any person out there.

    The key is to honestly allow yourself to stop at 5 minutes—no matter what. That’s what allows your brain to accept the method as legit and also lets it overcome the mental hurdle that makes your brain want to wander around and focus on anything but your task.

    6. Recite a Focus Mantra

    I like to think of mantras as a totem you can take with you anywhere you go. They serve the same purpose—reminding you to stay focused—but can be done anywhere and anytime.

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    I find the most powerful type of mantra to be based on reality. I learned this approach from Dr. Jon Fader—a performance coach who was on “Good Morning America”—and his book Life as Sport: What Top Athletes Can Teach You about How to Win in Life. He calls this “objective optimism.”

    Basically, you create a mantra that’s based on personal success in your life. That way, the mantra isn’t just a fluffy positivity statement, there’s also the weight of real-life success giving it power

    Some examples:

    • If you’re struggling to make yourself go to the gym but have technically been there many times already, you could say, “just another day of heading to the gym—easy.”
    • If you’re suffering from impostor-syndrome after accepting a promotion, just say, “I’m here for a reason” to remind yourself that your efforts were recognized by others and are the real deal.
    • If you’re nervous about an upcoming sports competition but have trained diligently for it, you could say, “I’ve done all the work possible” to remind yourself that your earlier efforts have created the best version of you for the event.

    As you can see, the most powerful mantras are evidence-based and positive. So, just find proof of relevant success in your life and transform it into a motivating mantra.

    7. Use the “Multi-Yawn” Approach

    One of the best ways to be distracted is to be tired. And sometimes, you’ll be tired in such a way that you’re “sort of” working but not realize that you’re actually constantly distracted.

    If you can notice when you do this, one thing I like to do is crank out as many big, satisfying yawns as possible. Olympic athletes sometimes do this before their big events. It calms them down and helps them perform better in the process. And it works just as well for us regular folks. I find it has a similar effect to taking a good nap (and actually works best in unison), so you can imagine how effective this can be.

    8. Find an Easy Win

    Nothing feels good like winning. So, it can help to find a few simple tasks you can do with little effort and just get them done immediately. This will create momentum and propel your productivity forward. The feeling of success will lock your focus in on the task at hand and refocus your wandering mind. Use this when you feel “resistance” to getting your work started.

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    9. Create a “Wins” List

    Feeling like a capable person who can win at life is motivating in and of itself. In light of this fact, it can help to have an ongoing “wins” list to prove you’re an able person.

    Just keep track of all your daily wins—big and small. And whenever your focus starts to wane, give that list a peek and remind yourself that you’re more capable than you realize.

    10. Add Stakes to the Mix

    If you were to lose $20 if you failed to complete a task, would you be more focused on completing it? Of course!

    Try and find ways to put something on the line when it comes to completing your tasks, and you’ll find your focus, motivation, and ability to things done to be higher than ever before.

    For example, if you’re at work, you could involve a co-worker by saying you’ll buy their food if you don’t complete a task before lunchtime rolls around. At home, you could say you’ll also mow the lawn if you don’t remember to wash the dishes before the day is over. Or you could just use something like Beeminder or TaskRatchet, which actually charges you cash for failing to complete a task or goal on time. (It’s scary but effective)

    All are viable methods, so just give one of them a shot.

    Who Else Wants More Success?

    Of the many methods of winning at life out there, focusing is definitely a top-three contender. You can’t get anything you want in life if you don’t buckle down and get your work done—a wandering mind won’t create success.

    But with these 10 focus tips, you’ll be ahead of the competition and be closer to a fitter body, higher income, and a flat-out better life than before.

    More Tips on Sharpening Your Focus

    Featured photo credit: Clay Banks via unsplash.com

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