Coffee, Cortisol, and Productivity

Do you adore productivity and despise procrastination? Me too! I focus my days on 1 to 3 important things I can get done that day. Before I leave the office, I check what I got done and compare it to what was planned. This process has been extremely helpful in staying efficient and combating the anxious feelings I get around my to-do list.

Recently, I made one more change that has improved productivity.

I wait until I am about 5 hours into my day before I drink coffee, as opposed to having it right when I wake up or closer to 1 to 2 hours into the day.

I wake up at 6:30AM and don’t consume coffee until around 11AM. Most of the time I keep it to one a day, too.

Why does this help productivity? A few weeks ago I covered cortisol and sleep. Humans wake up with high cortisol levels. Naturally, cortisol diminishes as the day goes on. Cortisol is a hormone that is released when exposed to stress which produces more energy.

As a result, I use the cortisol I wake up with to fuel me five hours into my day. I get a few important things done when I first get to the office such as:

  • Emails from the day before that I missed.
  • Anything I can knock out or start on from my 1 to 3 item to-do list.

Around 11AM, I make my way to the coffee shop for some caffeine just when my cortisol levels begin to dip. The caffeine helps pick them back up, and I have a few more hours of productivity before lunch. The coffee carries me through most of the afternoon too so as long as I am well rested.

Personally, I am productive in spurts throughout the day (I am a dolphin). The late morning coffee has been extremely helpful. I suspect this won’t last forever. It’ll get old at some point but right now I am enjoying the feeling.

Let me know if you have any other productivity hacks. I could use them when this one runs out!