It has been nearly four years since giving up caffeine and I am proud to say that I am still on the wagon. I haven't had coffee in a long time and I have soda infused with caffeine maybe twice a year. When I drink the soda, it's only semi-conscious, but I realize how much an effect caffeine still has on me when I wake up tired the next morning. I think this only continues to prove my point that giving up caffeine is essential to being more productive in your creative life. I figured that since it has been years since I've last updated on this subject, it was worth looking back into.
What is a life like that has been off of caffeine for multiple years? It's extremely productive. Before I'd ever gotten into caffeine, the early mornings of my high school years were great. I would occasionally have to take a cold shower to burst into being awake (which I attribute to occasional diet soda drinking causing morning sleepiness) but I frequently used my mornings for exercise and my first few periods usually went off without a hitch. When I got into the caffeine life in college and later working at a popular coffee shop, I noticed that it took a lot to get me out of bed in the morning. I was like everybody else, I'd been duped into being part of the caffeine consumer culture.
Giving up caffeine made me productive again, not in bursts, like a cup of dark roast or a can of cola would provide, but productive throughout the day without needing to take a nap. I realize now though, that my attempt to kick coffee to the curb would not have worked if I hadn't added some complementary practices to my life. Without a regular exercise plan, I would have still been in trouble. Caffeine increases your endorphin levels, which make you happier. Exercise also does this and unlike caffeine, it tends to make your sleep more natural. I also began an attempt to sleep over seven hours every night and going for eight whenever possible. I realize that this has caused me to miss hours of television and late night drinking, but looking back on it, I barely miss those practices in the slightest. Maybe that makes me a little less fun to be around, but I'll trade that image for the productivity of my last two years in a heartbeat.
Giving up caffeine in the first place isn't easy. You get headaches and you feel tired. Like giving up any addiction, it's a matter of will power at first and then putting new habits into place to give your will power a break. If you go into a coffee shop every day and have been substituting tea for coffee, a weak day of will power will get you right back into the coffee habit. If you instead skip the shop all together and brew your own decaf tea at home in the morning, you'll save money and you'll avoid temptation. Get coffee and soda out of the house and find a replacement decaf beverage of choice. Write down your goal to kick the habit as well, since that makes it more likely to happen in the first place.
When you are able to ditch the caffeine addiction, you'll find an incredible clarity. After all that time without a cup of coffee, I'm able to concentrate much better throughout the day and I'm much less scatterbrained. My brain is no longer manic, it's mellow and I've found a greater handle on emotional control as well. To lead a happier, healthier and more creative life, giving up caffeine is essential.