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Caffeine, whether it’s Dillon Francis a few years back making Bulletproof coffee part of his Snapchat brand or even Kokiri in the latest episode of Your Music Industry pointing out he regularly drinks coffee. Caffeine whether in the form of Coffee, Tea or other caffeinated drinks seem to be a big part of being active in the studio.
Being a regular coffee drinker, I wanted to do some digging to explore if an effective approach to caffeine exists, as I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to be the most productive I can. In this short article, I’ll be passing on to you what I’ve learnt about caffeine and give you some tips on how you can use it as more of a tool for focus and productivity.
Before we get started though, I want to quickly point out the different levels of caffeine in a range of different drinks:
The key thing to remember with caffeine though is that we all react differently to the compound and you may have a prior tolerance, so use this content as a framework to experiment and find what works best for you.
Uses for Productivity in the Music Industry
In my research, I found that it was conclusive: caffeine boosts mental and physical performance in pretty much every measurable way. Looking into how this can work within the Music Industry, I found 3 areas I believe are most suited to our musical world. In general, these positive uses diminish after the consumption of approximately 200 mg of caffeine. So be aware of how much you are consuming.
1: It deepens our focus
Regardless of whether a task is simple or complex, caffeine narrows our attentional space, which in turn, means it is easier to focus solely on one task. Whether we are in the studio EQing a kick drum for hours on end or tackling a deadline, caffeine is a well-researched tool which can be a part in helping you achieve the productivity you wish.
2: It helps us persevere
In our musical world of working in the studio hours on end, tiredness and fatigue can become a pressing issue, especially when working to tight deadlines. Caffeine boosts our determination no matter of how tired we are by blocking Adenosine receptors in our brain. Adenosine is one of our brains sleep inducing molecules. Through this process, we can give ourselves a mental and physical boost meaning that we can keep on working if tired.
I would, however, like to say that this is more of a last resort than anything, like any drug, If you aren’t careful it can be more bad than good. I’d also like to add here that caffeine takes an average of 8 to 14 hours to metabolise out of your system, so if you intend to go to sleep a few hours after drinking, the caffeine can impact quite heavily on the quality of your sleep.
3: It improves our performance
Caffeine improves our performance on tasks that require verbal memory or a quick reaction time. In the context of the music industry, caffeine can be a beneficial tool for live performance. Whether in the form of vocalist needing a helping hand in remembering her words or a Live DJ set that requires a quick reaction time, caffeine can aid in improving your performance on stage.
1 - Limit the amount of coffee you drink in the 6 hours prior to getting in bed ,as it will only negatively impact on sleep, making the following day less productive.
2 - If you are working on more technical tasks, have around 60-100mg of caffeine to help narrow your focus on the task ahead. Caffeine on average takes around 20 minutes to kick-in.
3 - Try not to drink over 200mg of coffee as it will be more counter-productive by impairing your performance and increasing anxiety.
4 - Become aware of how much caffeine you regularly intake as you could have already built a tolerance, everyone is different so use these tips as a framework and experiment with your own approach to caffeine
As I’m writing this article, I’m consuming my own approach to caffeine for focus and productivity. This comes in the form of Mushroom Coffee, you are probably thinking… WTF, EW! It’s actually not in any way bad. Mushroom Coffee is a product by Four Sigmatic, a US based company who create a whole range of products based around Fungi.
So why Mushroom Coffee? Each cup contains 50mg of coffee along with a range of different mushrooms including the nootropic mushroom ‘Lions Mane’. Despite only containing 50mg of caffeine, when combined with the mushrooms, all I can say is it seriously lights you up and deepens your focus and I would argue better than solo caffeine does. Another benefit is the fact it only has a small dose of caffeine, which in turn doesn’t give you any of those higher dose side effects such as stutters and shakes.
P.S. This article isn’t in anyway affiliated with Four Sigmatic or Mushroom Coffee.
In conclusion, research shows that Caffeine helps deepen our focus, our perseverance and improve our performance yet, there is a fine-line between using caffeine for productivity and it becoming counter-productive. This fine-line arrives at around the 200mg mark which is approximately less than 2 average cups of coffee. Remember though, caffeine affects everybody differently so use these numbers and approaches as a frame-work and experiment with your own levels.
Thank you for checking out the very first Know-How! This is a new weekly piece of content that I have personally wanted to get off the ground for months. I’m a keen believer that if we take time to learn about our bodies, circumstances and industry - we can be smart in our own approach and not only look after ourselves but also how we can become the best version of ourselves.
Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey (Penguin Random House, 2018)
A review of caffeine's effects on cognitive, physical and occupational performance by John McLellan (Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews, 12/2016, Volume 71)