I work and play in spikes and I’ve realized that I can neatly divide a typical day up by what cup of coffee I’m on.
This is the day starter. The most essential cup and very enjoyable. I usually enjoy this while reading, if I’m lucky, before anyone else is up. It fuels the better part of my morning as I make breakfast, drop the kids at school, and go running.
This is my “go to work” cup. Making this cup signals that I’m about to start a stretch of focused work for 3-4 hours. Probably my favorite cup of the day.
The afternoon cup, designed to push into a second stretch of work or, most likely, the school pickup and subsequent activities with the kids and cooking dinner.
My evening work cup. I often work after dinner for a couple hours, and this helps me focus. I’ve never had a problem going to sleep after coffee at this time either. Is that a good or bad sign?
Just for fun, I checked for how many references there are for “coffee” in Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, and it’s referenced 78 times. So, I’m feeling good about my coffee habit as putting me in the company of greats and, based on the stories, there are a lot worse things than needing a few cups of coffee each day.
Consider the routine of the superstar mathematician Paul Erdos for example:
“Erdős owed his phenomenal stamina to amphetamines—he took ten to twenty milligrams of Benzedrine or Ritalin daily. Worried about his drug use, a friend once bet Erdős that he wouldn’t be able to give up amphetamines for a month. Erdős took the bet and succeeded in going cold turkey for thirty days. When he came to collect his money, he told his friend, “You’ve showed me I’m not an addict. But I didn’t get any work done. I’d get up in the morning and stare at a blank piece of paper. I’d have no ideas, just like an ordinary person. You’ve set mathematics back a month.” After the bet, Erdős promptly resumed his amphetamine habit, which he supplemented with shots of strong espresso and caffeine tablets. “A mathematician,” he liked to say, “is a machine for turning coffee into theorems.””
Of course, I love coffee as a strong stimulant, but I also think the rhythm of my ritual primes me to engage with each part of my day. Could I substitute my favorite brew for a less-potent elixir and get the same result? I’d like to think so, but I don’t feel like experimenting with my ingestion schedule.
Why mess with something that isn’t broken (and tastes so good)?