Caffeine Killer (Productive Chaos: How to Hurry Without Rushing p. 2)

People really like their caffeine. I guess I should’ve realized that before, but I got a bit of  flack when I suggested that caffeine was not the most efficient way to get things done in my previous post.

Ok…I get it…coffee tastes great. Fair ’nuff. But I’m sticking to my guns and I’ll say it again:

If you have a cup of coffee every day, you’re not actually more awake and aware than if you didn’t have any caffeine at all.

But aside from the basic biological facts of your body normalizing to the amount of caffeine after a while, there’s a philosophical issue.

Caffeine is a crutch. Click To Tweet

A lovely lovely yummy crutch that I love in sugar coated form, but a crutch none the less.

When you’re working for “the man” and having to pour over expense reports, then it takes pretty much every trick in the book to stay awake and get the job done. I myself used to insert a coca-cola caffeine IV, prop my eyelids up with toothpicks, and start screaming like a scene out of Clockwork Orange.

Sometimes it had to be done. But that’s not the context here. We’re talking about startups, and we’re talking about your startup.

If you're not excited enough about your own idea to pull an all nighter, something is very very wrong. Click To Tweet

If you’re not excited enough about your own idea to pull an all nighter on determination and adrenaline alone, something is very very wrong.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with getting a little external help for tasks. I use an array of planners, buzzers, and time tracking devices I mentioned in my last post. I also take melatonin to get over jet lag, vitamins cause I don’t like green food, and taxis when my feet hurt.

But I think it’s important to be strategic about what mental functions I choose to outsource from my own body. Perspiration is your ally.

Evil Evil TV

A more relevant example: I have a huge TV problem.

When it’s on…I have to look at it. If it’s in the room, I have to turn it on. That’s a huge time suck.

My solution? No TV.

Got rid of it in college and haven’t owned one since. Well…actually I did own a TV for a bit, but even then, I made sure not to have cable or even rabbit ears. So the only thing I could do with it was watch movies. I knew that I didn’t have the willpower to have a TV and not watch it, so I made an external change to enforce my intellectual decision.

I justified that decision because I didn’t think “not watching TV” was a crucial skill that I needed to work on. Especially since I didn’t exactly have a rigorous schedule to keep in college.

Fast forward to today, I still don’t have a TV, but Hulu and Netflix have brought the TV to my computer, so I have the same potential problem today. But I’m not going to throw away my computer and I’m not at all worried about my ability to motivate myself to launch excel instead of my browser.


Because I like my job.

I like it a lot more than I like watching old episodes of Star Trek on Netflix.

If I didn’t like my job, I’d know immediately that I started the wrong company and I should do something else. After all, I can always go back to corporate world if I need a mind numbing job.

Why should I need any help motivating myself to do what I love?

Do Not Outsource Your Key Competencies

When you rely on an external agency to take over for a part of your brain, make sure it’s not something you’ll need later.

Can you remember your best friend’s phone number? I cannot.


Because my mobile phone does that for me and that part of my brain has consequently atrophied to nothing. As is, I’m not worried about my inability to remember a 10 digit code because there’s not a lot of call for digit memorization in my work. Also, I never lose my phone.

I have essentially outsourced telephone number record keeping to an external device.

All the conventional wisdom about outsourcing in your business applies to outsourcing in your body or in your brain:

Do Not Outsource Your Key Competencies. Click To Tweet

If you were a world class runner, you wouldn’t ride around in a wheelchair just because it’s comfortable. If you were a world class mathematician, you wouldn’t use a calculator to go dutch on your dinner bill. Not only is it not necessary, but you’d like running and you’d like doing math.

So why would anyone outsource their key skills?

Why would you want to outsource the most critical skill of any entrepreneur: Determination

We’re all fallible and have our weak points. We all need time to slack. We all need a hand wherever we can get it.

But let’s not forget that

The most valuable skill that we can possess is the determination to do whatever it takes to succeed. Click To Tweet

We don’t need a cheering section,we don’t need three cups of coffee to get excited about what we’re doing, and we certainly don’t need a nap.

So I’m going to have one less cup of tea today and when I get drowsy I’m going to listen to my body. I’m going to get up, stretch, take a 5 minute break, and come back with the same level of energy that I would if I downed another 50 CCs of caffeine.

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