If you're a daily coffee drinker—by the potful or one K-cup at a time—you have…
Focusing at work is hard, and it’s become even harder during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you’re working from home or still working on-site, it’s challenging to maintain focus on the tasks at hand when our brains can run wild with preoccupied thoughts. Many of us reach for caffeine — coffee, tea, energy drinks, and/or soda — to get us through the day, but caffeine isn’t always the healthiest substance for us to consume large quantities of on a daily basis.
According to Food Insight, caffeine typically takes between 15-45 minutes to digest into our bloodstream and therefore take effect (if you “feel” it immediately, you’re likely experiencing a reaction to the idea of drinking the caffeine, not the caffeine itself). Because of this, many people reach for cups of coffee or cans of soda all throughout the workday to keep themselves focused and motivated. However, there may be drawbacks to this.
There are clear signs you’re drinking too much caffeine, and some of these signs are also reasons that you should slow down your consumption. For example, caffeine can cause sleep problems, and when you don’t sleep enough or well, you can’t focus at work, at home, or anywhere. If you’re jittery from too much sugar and/or caffeine, this breaks your focus, too. Still, the connection between caffeine and focusing on work goes deeper than you realize.
Caffeine can make you sick or irritable
The truth about caffeine and focusing at work is that you might be craving caffeine for reasons other than needing it to focus on your job. Caffeine, like most substances, can be addictive, and Healthline notes that you can experience sharp withdrawal symptoms when you cut back or quit it altogether. Because of this, people drink more of it to not experience these symptoms — and increase their focus — but it may backfire. According to Partnership Employment, you’re likely to experience a caffeine crash at work when living like this, meaning you won’t get any work done. Therefore, the focus you tried to gain lived in a very short window.
Too much caffeine can also cause you to feel sick. It can cause general feelings of anxiety, and it can make your stomach upset. All of these sick feelings detract from your focus and from your work. In 2013, Forbes noted that the national average caffeine consumption in the U.S. was approximately 200 mg, or about two cups of coffee, which means people may have needed a second cup as a pick-me-up from the prior’s inevitable crash. Worth noting too is not only the sick feelings that may come with too much caffeine consumption but also the irritability. Caffeine can cause someone to be uncharacteristically rude or combative, which should have no place in the workplace.
Still, the issue with caffeine is that everyone’s different. What works for one person may not work for another, and everyone can handle a different amount. You can ultimately only do what’s best for you. So, what are your thoughts on caffeine’s relationship to workplace focus?