In the mornings, however, coffee has become a crutch for me. Since my ridiculously long morning commute usually leaves me pretty sleep-deprived, I often rely on my $0.65 cup of coffee just to feel “normal” for the workday. Over time, I’ve realized that I’ve become more and more reliant on caffeine just to stay awake, which is a terrible state to be in. Also, the sugar that comes with it is probably the main culprit to my ever-increasing waistline. 🙁
I don’t spend very much on it (my regular cuppa costs me $0.65 a day, or around $13 per month), but who wouldn’t mind an extra $13 a month? That’s $156 a year, which funds most of my annual ebook purchases.
I’m going to try to kick the addiction with this LifeTest. I’ll always love drinking coffee in cafes, but I no longer want to be reliant on that morning cup just to get through my day. With this LifeTest, I hope to answer two questions:
- Is caffeine really necessary to get through a normal workday?
- Are there other things I could do (like sleeping early, taking more breaks, drinking water, etc) that I could use to keep my energy up?
These are the rules:
- I’m not allowed to drink coffee, tea, or Coke from midnight to 8pm on weekdays.
- Other drinks such as water, soya bean, Milo, fruit juices, etc are allowed.
I’ll be logging my experiences here, so stay tuned 🙂
1 Apr 2013, Monday
I found myself waiting for my carpool at 715, feeling half-tired and half-optimistic for the start of the week. It’s a strange feeling to have, and I’m pretty sure coffee would have made me feel better, but I’d already made the commitment to abstain. A yong tau foo breakfast with my carpool colleagues helped me to take the focus off the need for coffee. Distractions are good when it comes to temptations – the less you think about something, the less you get tempted.
Fast forward to the end of the day, and I feel surprisingly good after a full day of working. Maybe it was my sleeping 7 hours last night, or maybe it was the absence of a mid-afternoon caffeine crash. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.
2 Apr 2013, Tuesday
Helluva busy at the office today, which meant that I didn’t have time to miss coffee today! Despite the lack of coffee, I didn’t even feel any dip in productivity whatsoever. Maybe it’s what I’ve suspected all along – that coffee doesn’t really help productivity at all, and that I’d simply been drinking it everyday out of pure habit. Still, I did get 6.5 hours of sleep last night. Need to check out how I function without coffee AND sleep, which might happen sometime soon.
3 Apr 2013, Wednesday
So the subway broke down this morning, which turned my 90 minute commute into a 150 minute commute to work. I got annoyed, so I stopped by a McDonald’s to grab some breakfast and cheer myself up. At that point, I could have really used a coffee to perk me up, but I opted for an iced Milo instead. Abstaining totally isn’t fun when you have cravings.
Still, I didn’t really feel the effects of the lack of coffee till after lunch, when I started feeling a little hazy (probably from getting stressed about getting to work in the morning). Drinking plenty of water and multiple trips to the bathroom helped a LOT though. First signs of weakness due to a lack of sleep! We’ll have to see how it pans out tomorrow. (It’s 12.45 am, so yeah, I’m not getting 6.5 hours of sleep again tonight. Dang it.)
4 Apr 2013, Thursday
Woah. Super sleepy today. A carb-and-MSG-filled lunch, coupled with less than 6 hours of sleep last night led to an afternoon of zoning in and out of lala land. You know what I mean – that familiar urge where all you want to do is to slump over your desk and take a catnap, but can’t cause your colleagues will totally judge you. A huge cup of coffee would have perked me up at least till the end of the day, but a commitment’s a commitment. So, I resorted to:
- Gulping huge amounts of water and going to the bathroom literally every 30 mins
- Downloading JT’s “Suit & Tie” (don’t ask me why) and singing along to it while I crunched numbers and had colleagues giving me weird stares.
The result? No after-work crash, which gave an enjoyable date night out in the evening 🙂
5 Apr 2013, Friday
The final day of the week and my body/brain’s a little weary. Similar to yesterday, the post-lunch no-coffee drought was hell. Bathroom breaks and constant water-gulping kept me awake, but did nothing for my morale. Perhaps I should start finding other ways to motivate myself in the afternoons, like annoying my colleagues or something 😀
But really, the most effective way to keep awake is to sleep at least 6.5 hours a day, preferably 7. I did that on Sunday and Monday nights, and the following days were fine. Compromise that, and the craving for coffee comes back with a vengeance.
8 Apr 2013, Monday
Nothing destroys a case of the Mondays better than a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, I don’t have that option this week, so I had to self-motivate. Once I got into the office cafeteria, I did a weird little psychological self-psych to get myself excited about work this week. Couple that with a hot, steaming bowl of yong tau foo, and I was good to go.
Other than that, I was too busy to miss coffee at all today. Of course, the 6.5 hours of sleep last night helped a little. But I’m beginning to start to feel like I don’t really need coffee at all in my life: 1) I don’t need it to stay awake, and 2) I don’t need it to motivate me on a Monday morning if I can do it myself. Is this the start of my independence from coffee?
Sidetrack: I allowed myself one cup of DECAF coffee at Starbucks tonight because I had a coffee meeting with the guys behind MoneySmart. Still within the rules because I drank it after 8pm 🙂
9 Apr 2013, Tuesday
Today, I got into the cafeteria and something strange happened: I didn’t even feel the urge to get any coffee. It wasn’t that I was feeling exceptionally perky (I wasn’t). It was the complete absence of the urge to walk to the coffee stall. Maybe I’m finally ridding myself of the daily morning coffee habit?
The day passed by uneventfully – Busy as usual, but no sleepiness, which is always a good thing 🙂 If I can keep this up for three more days, I think I can say I’d have successfully kicked the coffee habit. I -may- extend this challenge to another 7 days for next week, just to make sure.
10 Apr 2013,Wednesday
MSG is deadly. A little bit of it (in the form of an ever-so-delicious chicken wing) was enough to make me crazy sleepy in the afternoon. As usual, gulping water really helped, but I found yet another solution: Wander around the office and annoy people. I walked to another department, talked to a colleague, and discovered a hidden corner behind his desk where you can literally doze off without anyone noticing. Tempting, but by the time I was done talking I was awake again. Life win!
11 Apr 2013, Thursday
It’s amazing what 7 hours of sleep can do for you – Throughout the day, I was alert, productive, in control, and totally not thinking about coffee. I started this exercise wanting to see if I would miss coffee, but I’m starting to realize that it’s more about how to keep my energy levels up – and part of it starts with sleeping more every night. Maybe that should be my next LifeTest. 🙂
12 Apr 2013, Friday
Well, that’s it – that’s the end of my very first LifeTest. I was toying with the idea of extending it for another 7 days, but I don’t think I’ll glean a lot of further insights even if I do. I think the time would be better spent pursuing another LifeTest.
The last day of the test turned out to be the most challenging of all because my colleagues picked a lunch place with FREE FLOW COFFEE. Also, one of our managers was retiring today, so he bought everyone hot coffee and snacks around 3pm today. Couple that with only 5+ hours of sleep last night, and we’re talking about real temptation. Woah.
Still, I kept to my promise of abstaining for the entire 14 days, and I totally didn’t regret it. I’ll be typing up my thoughts in a more detailed “Results” post, so definitely keep a lookout for that. In the meantime though, I’ll probably not be drinking too much coffee even though I’m off the hook now – I don’t really feel the need to 😉
Check out the Results post here.