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What You Didn’t Know About the World’s Top Three Productivity-Enhancing Drugs

What You Didn’t Know About the World’s Top Three Productivity-Enhancing Drugs
Is This Your Productivity-Enhancing Drug?

There are things people consume to stay awake longer, become more energetic or somehow increase productivity in other ways. They are usually things that people enjoy consuming – often in large volumes. Coffee, Coca-Cola (and other caffeinated soft drinks), and tea are the global big three productivity-enhancing drugs of choice. Most users think they are such great products that they can’t get through the day without. We suggest that quick energy boosts are a problem and that for optimal long-term productivity, users should kick the caffeine habit.

#1 productivity-enhancing drug: COFFEE

Coffee tops our list as the number one productivity-enhancing drug in the world. More than 500 billion cups of coffee are consumed each year – enough to give every man, woman and child on the planet 75 cups a year. There are some heavy users drink that much each week.

Coffee has been around for over a thousand years and is the most important mass produced performance-enhancing substance in the world. Have you seen any coffee-free workplaces lately? Probably not. Coffee has become the number one drug of choice to keep the world’s offices and factories running.

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Wikipedia provides the following statistics on the amount of caffeine found in various types of coffee. Caffeine is the operative ingredient in coffee and it is used in medicine as a heart stimulant.

Depending on the type of coffee and method of preparation, the caffeine content of a single serving can vary greatly. On average, a single cup of coffee of about 207 milliliters (7 fluid ounces) or a single shot of espresso of about 30 mL (1oz) can be expected to contain the following amounts of caffeine:

• Drip coffee: 115–175 mg
• Espresso: 40 mg
• Brewed/Pressed: 80–135 mg
• Instant: 65–100 mg
• Decaf, brewed: 3–4 mg
• Decaf, instant: 2–3 mg

These statistics do not include the “Four Shot Espresso” found at most of the 15,000 Starbucks locations around the world. If everyone started drinking these instead of regular coffee, the world would become a more neurotic place!

#2 productivity-enhancing drug: COCA-COLA

Second on our list of productivity-enhancing drugs is Coca-Cola. This includes both the original Coke that had cocaine in it when it first came out and the modern versions that still boast “secret” formulas but are known to contain substantial doses of caffeine and large amounts of sugar. The main difference between Coke at number two and coffee at number one is that coffee-users can self-regulate the amount of sugar that gets added to each cup. Not so for Coke. The average 355 mL (12 fluid ounces) can or bottle of Coke contains a whopping 10 teaspoons or 40 grams of sugar built into it. This is much more sugar than a coffee drinker, even if theyhappened to be a sugar-junkie, would add to a cup.

For extreme caffeine-hounds, there are extra potent versions like the infamous “Jolt Cola” that boasts “all the sugar and twice the caffeine.” There are all sorts of “energy drinks” now available and most of them are loaded with – guess what? – caffeine and sugar!

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#3 productivity-enhancing drug: TEA

Tea is number three on our list of productivity-enhancing drugs. It has a long history, much longer than coffee. Until the last century, tea was in more widespread use around the world than coffee. Tea has just as much caffeine as coffee does. And like coffee, the tea user can self-regulate the amount of added sugar.

But tea has an added bonus. It contains theobromine and theophylline which also affect performance. While theobromine and caffeine are similar in that they are related alkaloids, researchers have found that theobromine has a lesser impact on the human central nervous system and it stimulates the heart to a greater degree. While theobromine is not as addictive, it has been cited as possibly causing addiction to chocolate – turning some tea drinkers into chocolate junkies? Presently, theophylline is not a banned or controlled substance by the International Olympic Committee; however there is research that shows theophylline is an ergogenic aid.

Independently, green tea has been found by Japanese researcher Takatoshi Murase to boost exercise endurance in mice up to 24% while spurring the use of fat as energy. It might become added to the list of substances that baseball players and other athletes are tested for. Dr. Murase estimates that to match the effects on the mice, these athletes would need to drink about four cups of green tea a day over several weeks.

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Other Choices

If you are not content to use just these top three productivity-enhancing drugs, there are several other popular ones to choose from. These include beer, wine and other substances that contain alcohol. These are not usually classed as productivity-enhancers. Their depressant properties tend to mitigate the productivity-boosts usually derived from reduced inhibitions. When it comes to boosting productivity, the caffeine and sugar combination beat beats alcohol. Mixed drinks, spiked coffees and various caffeine-laced liqueurs impact productivity in less predictable ways.

Very popular in many countries are sugar-laced donuts and other high fat sweets. The sugar-high from these tend to give only a short term boost, much like the top three do. The problem is that the added fat on top of the empty calories cause moderate to heavy users to become sick and obese. The same could be said for most menu items from the button-popping fast food restaurant chains including McDonalds, Burger King and KFC (formerly named Kentucky Fried Chicken). An occasional quick meal from McDonalds including a Big Mac, Coke and fries might help with finishing projects on a deadline but too many of these over several years will likely clog your arteries.

A diet completely devoid of these productivity-enhancing drugs is the way to go for increased productivity, especially over the longer term. There is a small but vocal and growing minority who advocate avoiding caffeine and sugar as much as possible when looking for an energy boost. Both of he authors of this post are among this group that includes many vegans and other health-conscious folks whom you’ll rarely or never find at a McDonalds and who are less likely than others to land in a cardiac ward. Plain, ordinary, odorless, colorless, tasteless water is a popular beverage among this group. Not much of a productivity-booster but a fairly safe choice health-wise. Stay fit, get enough rest, eat and drink natural healthy stuff, and reorganize your life and daily processes so you won’t need to turn to caffeine and sugar laden products for quick energy fixes. Caffeine is especially good at masking the body’s ability to know where it is really at – not a good thing for those of us who are trying to tune into ourselves better.

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Where productivity counts, whether at home, work or play, don’t abuse one or more of the world’s top three productivity-enhancing drugs: coffee, Coke, and tea. Find healthier ways to boost your productivity.

Do you agree, disagree or have other ideas on this topic of energy boosters? Let us know in the comments.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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