I have a strange relationship with caffeine. A normal person has a cup of coffee and it wakes them up. That much caffeine cracks me out so badly you’d think I was hitting the really hard stuff. If I drink coffee, it needs to be when I’m either completely exhausted (read as, undead) or when there are many hours between that cup and bedtime. The rare time when I do have a cup of coffee with my husband, we make it half decaf and even that messes me up. So coffee is not really my friend.
I get a similar effect from too much soda (when I used to be allowed to drink it), iced tea, etc. My body just doesn’t like caffeine.
Every morning, I have a small pot of black tea, the entire pot made with a single tea bag. This is enough to wake me up but not enough to make me feel like I have X-Ray vision. If I need another hit of caffeine later in the day, I switch to green or white tea (same deal, one tea bag for a pot). No milk in it, of course. The very idea of milk in tea grosses me out big time.
Tea purists and people related to me usually have a fit about my only using one tea bag and that fit gets even worse when I then use that same original tea bag to make a second pot of tea (the second pot, of course, then being decaf as that is how it works). Why are other people so concerned about how I drink my tea? This remains a mystery. But if someone sees me make tea for myself, I will find myself micromanaged and harassed.
But I digress. Caffeine was the real topic. I start work at 7 AM mostly every day and I’m not good about going to bed at a reasonable hour. I’m usually pretty groggy in the mornings unless I get some kind of caffeine in my system. But while it’s a blessing to be able to wake up, caffeine is also my own personal curse.
Once caffeine hits me, I get this crazy laser focus. The problem is that, once it hits, I devote 100% of my attention to… whatever I’m pointed at. If I’m pointed at something on my To Do list, awesome! Sadly, often I’m pointed at something really random instead.
Maybe I’m supposed to be working on an eBook I’m readying for release but, when the caffeine hits, I’m fixing a simple issue on my website. Well, then I spent the next few hours obsessively tweaking my website until the caffeine wears off and I emerge, blinking, trying to figure out why I just wasted all that time doing web work when it wasn’t the most important thing I had to do.
The one blessing is that it’s always work, never Facebook or another distraction, but doing the wrong work, even if it’s something that needed to be done eventually, isn’t particularly helpful with making my day go smoothly. I try to not take a single sip of caffeine until I have the work I’m supposed to be doing open in front of me but there’s always some crisis or email that sucks me into a whole other task that wasn’t supposed to be on my radar and off I go.
I always think of the part in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince when he takes Felix Felicis (luck potion) and is supposed to go see Slughorn but his mind is like “Just kidding, let’s go hang out with Hagrid!” I find myself pulled into another task that feels like the right thing to work on at that moment and it’s only later that I realize I was suckered into working on something that didn’t need to be done just then. It boils down to: a little caffeine is great for getting work done… I just need a way to make sure it’s the right work.
What would you recommend?