By the time most of us have reached adulthood, we already heavily rely on caffeine to fuel our days. Most of us acquire a taste for black coffee when pulling all-nighters at university, or learning to get through eight-hour work days. After that, there’s no going back—and you find yourself reaching for the cafetière each morning.
What you perhaps didn’t know is that after your coffee hits, you’re at your prime for multi-tasking. You should harness this energy to be at your most productive for the day, if only for an hour.
A recent study by Professor Daniel Levitin, a neuroscientist at McGill University, showed that multi-tasking drains your energy much faster than focusing on one task. He found that switching between tasks makes you feel tired much more quickly, because it uses up more oxygenated glucose in the brain each time you begin a new activity.
What better way to pitch to your boss and for free coffee in the office?
Levitin also found that people who took a 15-minute break every couple of hours were the most focused and productive—providing those 15 minutes are spent away from a screen. He suggests reading, going for a quick walk, or even just sitting and having a think away from your work station.
15 minutes is the perfect time to grab a coffee, find a comfortable spot or bench outside, and relax with your thoughts before getting back to work.
Science says coffee + fresh air = the perfect break. With a refreshed mind and feeling refueled, you’ve built more energy reserves for that multi-tasking necessary to get your deadlines done.
This explains why your coffee break makes you feel like a superhero, and leads to you accomplishing much more than when you try to fight through the fatigue.
If you have group tasks to do, why not suggest doing them over a coffee? Mornings are the best time to do this, when everyone is alert and hasn’t yet been worn down by their daily business. Afternoons are the worst time to hold meetings—people feel fatigued after a big lunch and experience a dip in concentration levels.
Holding a morning meeting with coffee ignites creativity and spurs on the multi-tasking necessary in most people’s work days. It encourages social time for discussing ideas over your cappuccinos, before getting down to business.
If you’re a student, make sure you have a morning coffee before heading off to class or the library. When studying, you’re most likely multi-tasking on multiple projects and assignments, and feeling especially tired. (Remember being constantly tired as a student? Now you know why!)
Follow the coffee and fresh air rule and you should notice a big improvement in your productivity levels.
Remember that morning is the most productive time of day for the majority of people—but many students often miss this prime opportunity by staying in bed. Set yourself a rigid schedule for study to take advantage of your best working hours—fueled by your coffee of choice!
A word of warning: for night owls who work best by twilight, coffee may not be the best idea. Sleep experts suggest your last cup of coffee should be at 5pm at the latest.
Caffeine not only keeps you awake, but affects your internal body clock. It takes between 4-6 hours to exit the body, so bear this in mind when you brew a cup at 10pm.
Unless you’re already nocturnal, you could find it very difficult to get your recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per day. This leaves you extra cranky and in need of (you guessed it) coffee the next morning, starting a terrible caffeine dependency cycle.
While you may want to impose a cut-off point for your favorite beverage, coffee is amazing for giving you a boost in the daytime and helping busy workers with essential multi-tasking.