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How to Defend Your Coffee Habit

How to Defend Your Coffee Habit
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    I don’t think I’ve read a productivity blog yet that didn’t suggest kicking the coffee habit. I’ve kicked many bad habits in the last few years, something that seemed impossibly hard at first—such as dumping dairy—but coffee is one thing that I never succeeded with. That’s probably because I never really wanted to.

    While it truly is best that you cut caffeine out of your diet or curtail your consumption, for many of us it’s the one thing we’ll hold onto even when making other drastic changes in our lives. Never fear—there are still many benefits to drinking coffee, and I’ll show you how to defend your manic addiction to the world when confronted by an overzealous stampede of crusading lifehackistas!

    A Reduced Risk of Disease

    Have you seen all those tea advertisements that claim it’s the best source of antioxidants? Apparently, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet. Tea comes second. Of course, that’s a statistic measured on the level of consumption rather than the quality of the source.

    Antioxidants prevent and slow disease and oxidative damage. When the body uses oxygen, the process creates harmful by-products that antioxidants destroy. This reduces the risk of disease and promotes optimal health.

    This is one of the few benefits of coffee not derived from its caffeine content, so if you want to avoid high blood pressure or a heart attack, you can drink decaf without losing any health points—if you have a stomach strong enough to keep it down.

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    Counter-defense: fruits and vegetables are an even denser source of antioxidants.

    Increased Mental Performance

    This is why we start drinking coffee in the first place, right? I started binge drinking coffee in order to stay up all night working on various projects, though it didn’t take long for coffee consumption to become a hobby in its own right.

    Drinking coffee improves your concentration, alertness and staves off a tired mind. For me, work comes to a halt when I’m missing any of the above, especially concentration or alertness. Ten or twenty minutes after a cup of coffee, I can be back to work for a few more hours.

    Apparently coffee improves your short term memory, which indicates that I’m not drinking nearly enough of it. Did I mention that coffee improves your short term memory?

    Counter-defense: eating a diet low in meat and dairy and high in vegetables and fruit will provide increased mental performance and higher energy on a more consistent basis.

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    Make Shift Work Slightly More Tolerable

    Shift work forces the body into strange sleeping patterns, or more accurately, a lack of a sleeping pattern. Your body relies on patterns to tune and operate the whole circadian process which tells you when you’re in need of sleep or when it’s time to be awake. Lacking a solid pattern means you’ll be pumping melatonin or adrenaline through your body at very strange times.

    I know someone who took their car through a street sign (and escaped without getting caught) because of the way shift work destroys your sleeping patterns, so for these workers caffeine is not as much of a luxury – it becomes a necessary part of safely performing the work and getting there and back. Drink 200mg (two espressos) to keep yourself attentive on the job for a period of five or six hours. If you’ve got a killer twelve hour shift, throw back a few more halfway through.

    Drinking 400mg of caffeine in one night isn’t the healthiest thing you could be doing, but neither is shift work.

    Counter-defense: become a freelancer!

    Improve Endurance and Stamina in Physical Activities

    It is well known that coffee improves endurance and stamina in physical activities, especially sports. The last time I played any team sport, I could count my age on two hands. Nevertheless, a cup of coffee before the morning run makes it go that much faster and easier.

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    If you’re starting an exercise routine (or returning to one) and having trouble with the adaption, drinking a cup of coffee before starting may make it easy enough to get over the hump and make it a habit. If all you need is an adaptation tool you can stop drinking it once you can get through each session on your own.

    Counter-defense: with stamina and endurance training, you don’t need a cup of coffee to enable your body – you can apply these traits at any time.

    Improve Your Ability to Socialize

    A few cups of coffee can really help the introvert or cynic to come out of the shell and enjoy social situations. Coffee houses first formed in the Middle East hundreds of years ago and became popular as social locations, a tradition that has continued to this day. It’s got to do with not only the great atmosphere, aroma and architecture of most coffee houses, but of course, the effects of caffeine kicking your mind into gear and boosting your mood.

    There is evidence to show that coffee doesn’t boost your mood so much as reduce stress by eliminating the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for the frazzled, distressed feeling brought on by day-to-day stress.

    This one works well for me—especially for making visits to the wife’s family much more bearable!

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    Counter-defense: get a life, make some friends!

    Truly, there is no substitute for replacing a caffeine dependency with the optimal diet for your body and lifestyle. Drinking too much coffee can wreak havoc on your system, especially your sleep patterns and blood pressure.

    The latest research shows that drinking 200mg of caffeine or more a day can double the risk of miscarriage in pregnant women. If you’re pregnant, watch your intake, or better yet, just stop consuming caffeine altogether.

    That aside, coffee drinking has a far worse reputation than it deserves; the benefits are real, and in moderation, it’s actually a good idea to get some coffee in your system. Go ahead. Have a cup—you know you want to!

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    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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    Last Updated on October 15, 2019

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why we procrastinate after all

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    So, is procrastination bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How bad procrastination can be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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    8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

    Procrastination, a technical failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

    Reference

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