There's a Starbucks on almost every corner. If you happen to need coffee before you get to the next corner, there's always Dunkin' Donuts, or McDonalds, or the Keurig in your kitchen or the ubiquitous coffee pot in your workplace. American business gets done because of coffee.
Or maybe it's actually killing your productivity. That's the theory posited by Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-founder of emotional intelligence testing and training company TalentSmart, in a recent post on LinkedIn. Coffee has been shown, in the past to give a boost to mood and makes you feel more alert. But, Dr. Bradberry warns, new research shows that that "boost" is merely in response to your caffeine withdrawal. He writes:
New research from Johns Hopkins Medical School shows that performance increases due to caffeine intake are the result of caffeine drinkers experiencing a short-term reversal of caffeine withdrawal. By controlling for caffeine use in study participants, John Hopkins researchers found that caffeine-related performance improvement is nonexistent without caffeine withdrawal. In essence, coming off caffeine reduces your cognitive performance and has a negative impact on your mood. The only way to get back to normal is to drink caffeine, and when you do drink it, you feel like it's taking you to new heights. In reality, the caffeine is just taking your performance back to normal for a short period.
Think about that for a second. Coffee isn't boosting your mood and your alertness, it's bringing you back to normal. And why weren't you at normal to begin with? You were in caffeine withdrawal.
So, what if you want to get back to true normal. That is, a life without a coffee addiction. What can you do to truly boost your performance instead of just bringing it to a normal level? Try these 5 tips:
1. Exercise. Exercise actually produces endorphins that can make you feel better, without the withdrawal. Not to mention, you'll improve your overall health, which increases your productivity just by having you at work more often.
2. Use social media. While your boss may think it's crazy to spend time on Twitter, a recent survey by Microsoft indicated that 46 percent of workers felt their productivity actually went up when they used social networking at work. Sure, if you're just tweeting to your friends about your weekend plans, that's probably not going to help your productivity, but using social media tools to share research and collaborate with coworkers on projects can really boost what you can accomplish in a day
3. Take a break. Your brain can't go at full speed all the time, so to boost it, let it rest for some time. This could be in the form of a vacation, but on a daily basis you can take a walk around the block, take a true lunch break instead of working at your desk, or read something completely unrelated to your work.
4. Take a (short) nap. If you feel you need a bit of a boost, try closing your eyes instead. Not for long, though. Research shows that a 15 to 20 minute nap in the afternoon can refresh you and increase your productivity. Of course, this may not be feasible in your workplace, but WebMD suggests that you take a short nap between 1:00 and 3:00, in a dark room with a blanket if you want to maximize the benefit from your power nap.
5. Schedule a meeting after a project ends. Instead of just heading onto the next task when you finish a major project, Management Guru Alison Green says you should schedule a meeting instead. By doing this de-brief with the other people who worked on the project, you can figure out what went right and what went wrong and, therefore, make your next project even better. Improving your processes will help increase your productivity overall.