It’s not uncommon for employers and employees alike to reach for a caffeinated beverage when they need a bit of an energy boost. And while some might prefer to get their caffeine in the form of soda or an energy drink, the majority of consumers’ favorite mood-lifter is coffee itself.
That addiction is likely fueled by caffeine, which seems to have an impact on mental clarity and performance. The down side? Besides being addictive, caffeine can encourage weight gain and obesity.
But coffee has its plus side, too. First, we’re observing the growing popularity of bulletproof coffee, which of course is good for business and entrepreneurship. And, second, we’re also seeing that this popular beverage has been identified as an antioxidant.
So, overall, is coffee good for you? Does it truly increase productivity? Here are the issues to consider when you consider coffee.
1It improves mental performance and alertness
Medical writer Stephen Braun has said that caffeine blocks receptors for adenosine, a compound in your brain that causes drowsiness. This explains why many of us feel less tired when we consume coffee.
In low doses, caffeine also is said to improve mental performance and alertness. The caveat of course is that caffeine does not affect everyone the same way. Your personal response to caffeine could be vastly different from that of someone you know.
Other factors in your personal response include the dosage you consume, your weight and age and even the quality of your sleep. You should be aware that you can build up tolerance to caffeine over time, so one cup of coffee might not be enough to give you the same boost it used to.
In fact, some people don’t feel anything until they’ve downed two cups, though that may not be anything to brag about. It just means you’ve been hooked on caffeine a long time.
In shorter bursts, moreover, coffee can increase your cognitive functions, memory, alertness and energy. But as we all know, this effect can be short-lived, and you might crash later in the day.
2It can affect the quality of your sleep
In smaller doses, caffeine should not affect your sleep schedule. But if you consume too much, you may find it harder to fall asleep at night. This can unfortunately create an unhealthy cycle of not sleeping enough, stressing out and performing poorly at work. A longer-range result may even be burnout or an anxiety attack.
Overuse of caffeine, moreover, can result in an upset stomach, the jitters or even heart palpitations.
There is a greater focus on sleep now than the past, fueled by conflicting viewpoints between the hustle mentality that entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk and Grant Cardone promote, and the opposing perspective set forward by the likes of James Altucher and Arianna Huffington.
Only you can decide what’s right for you, but either way, it’s good to be aware that your sleep can be negatively affected by caffeine. So, be aware that moderation in coffee consumption is your best choice.
3It may enhance your willpower
By now, it’s a foregone conclusion that your willpower is depleted throughout the day as you make decisions. This might be one of the reasons Steve Jobs was known to wear the same outfit every single day. He didn’t have to think about what he was going to wear when he got up in the morning, and was thus able to save willpower for bigger decisions.
As it turns out, coffee can strengthen your willpower and self-control, particularly when you’re exhausted. Making a big decision when you’re tired isn’t wise. You could end up compromising your values, succumbing to pressures in negotiations or taking on new projects at inopportune times.
Drinking coffee beforehand, however, may help you stand your ground and make better decisions. This is a good thing to keep in mind if you’ve had a busy day and still have important decisions to make.
4Drinking coffee at the wrong time will lead to increased blood pressure and adrenaline levels
Entrepreneurs are constantly facing new challenges and putting out fires. In business, a strong mentality is a prerequisite, but even the best people can become frazzled and stressed out. If this continues over the long haul, you could even burn out.
The tendency is to become even more reliant on coffee when you’re drained. As it turns out, this is the worst time to load up your body with caffeine, as it can result in elevated blood pressure and adrenaline levels. As we’ve already seen, caffeine blocks adenosine, so the buildup can suddenly come flooding in as you crash, making you feel even more tired.
This might sound innocent in and of itself, but it’s a good way to trigger a panic attack, and once activated, anxiety often must be managed over the long haul. You may even wind up with an anxiety disorder.
You don’t need more caffeine when you’re coping with high levels of stress, despite its overall benefits when you aren’t under extreme pressure.
5It can help you learn faster
Many entrepreneurs are prolific consumers of content, whether it’s articles and blog posts, magazines, trade journals, books, podcasts or videos. This information helps them make decisions, innovate and implement new ideas in their business.
Ongoing study requires focus and attention, which, like willpower, can lessen throughout the day. It has been shown that 200 mg of caffeine can help you identify words and phrases faster than you could do without coffee.
Many entrepreneurs make it their goal to pick up new skills, learn technology or gain a better understanding of where their company stands among others in their industry. A cup of coffee – or two – just might be what you need to give your full attention to the material you’re studying and put it to use in your company.
It’s important to be aware of both the upsides and downsides of coffee. Moderate use, with accompanying attention to your sleeping habits and stress levels, can be beneficial. Meanwhile, be aware that overuse and misuse may agitate an existing health problem or develop a new one. Typically, caffeine abuse isn’t worth the trouble it brings, so set boundaries for yourself and stay healthy.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How To Work 10 Hours Less Each Week
We often equate working hard, long hours with being successful, when in fact, you’re just heading for a burnout. Here’s how to work less, while getting more done.
“The key to increasing profits is to convert unprofitable interactions into profitable ones.”
John D Rockefeller, a man who commanded incredible amounts of money, once said: “Those who have leisure time to spend pursuing their passions and dreams experience the real wealth in life.”
Knowing how to spend time is a more valuable skill than knowing how to make, manage, invest and spend money. It’s wise for entrepreneurs who want to be truly successful to master the use of their precious and irreplaceable time. What I have found most interesting is that those who know how to manage, budget and save time — rather than letting it manage them — will always find it easier to make money.
Learning how to lop ten hours off a typical work week without sacrificing any income may take practice, but it’s easier and faster to accomplish than most people think with these three steps.
Step One: Fire extraneous customers
The first rule of any time management system is to utilise the time we are allotted most wisely. As the saying goes; Time is money. The thief to be most wary of, is the one who steals our time.
So the rather controversial first step is to eliminate wasted time on customers who tie up sales representatives with inconsequential sales, steal your valuable time with constant complaining and waste your accountant’s time chasing them for payment. You need to either get rid of them or transform them into customers who proactively feed the bottom line. While this approach may sound radical, it makes practical sense to only focus on customers who respond with profitable transactions.
Firing customers may involve deleting dead-end leads from the client database. Or it may mean sending customers or clients to a business that more appropriately matches their price demands. Or you could adjust the magnets that are attracting those unwanted customers in the first place. Examples of this are discounts, freebies or products in the business that are not related to the core business model. Concentrate solely on products and services that produce the most profit and cull the dead weight ones that don’t contribute their share to the bottom line.
You could spin those lines off as stand-alone businesses and sell them to another entrepreneur or upgrade to premium versions that offer higher profit margins. Profit is always the goal and is the most important barometer of success.
Step Two: Double the conversion rates of transactions
Money is a fabulous timesaver and those who know how to make money more efficiently can leverage it to carve out more time for themselves. The key to increasing profits is to convert unprofitable interactions into profitable ones. This is a fool-proof formula for saving more hours each day without compromising on productivity or earnings.
Most people crawl toward retirement. Innovative entrepreneurs sprint there in record time. If you invest in a mutual fund or pension plan it may take decades to get enough of a nest egg to make it possible to semi-retire and take ten hours off each week to play golf or spend time with family. However, increasing profits in a business can be done in a matter of days or weeks.
To prepare for your profit-boosting initiative, gather accounting data and metrics to get a clear picture of where your profits come from, how many contacts are made with customers each month and how many customers make actual purchases. An easy way to harvest such information is by using software connected to point-of-sale terminals or cash registers.
Next, launch a marketing and advertising push to generate new customer leads, to encourage existing customers to buy more and to promote the most profitable products or services.
Part of this effort should involve a new way of looking at the business model. Most entrepreneurs see the future of their companies in terms of products and services that fill a particular market need or niche. Find the right merchandise and the customers will come. Build the best resort and it will be booked a year in advance. Another way to view the marketplace of opportunity is to reverse that point of view. Instead of looking for the ideal items to sell, invest in purchasing the loyalty of the perfect customer. Rather than chasing market share, chase ‘wallet share’ or more profitable customer-based transactions. No matter what a business sells, it’s ultimately the customers and how many times they spend money that generates the profits. Invest in attracting and retaining good customers and the rest will take care of itself automatically.
Instead of reinventing the wheel, find out who is buying wheels and make them your steady customers. Then sell them a premium wheel with a wider profit margin. Finally, ask clients to bring in their friends so that you can sell them a set of wheels too.
Once an expanding customer base is established, use incentives such as superior customer service, in-house financing, exclusive product lines and preferential customer perks to inspire clients to double the number of their monthly transactions.
Try up-selling customers to premium products. Cross-sell them to accessories or add-on features. Even down-sell to them by offering a more economical version of the product they can’t yet afford so that they don’t take their business to a competitor. At the same time, continually make a choreographed effort to generate fresh leads for potential new customers.
Step Three: Run your businesses on auto-pilot
Now the business owner has enviable options. One possibility is to close down the business for ten hours each week, take time off and settle for making the same amount of money monthly that was generated before boosting profits by 25%.
Another alternative is to leverage that newfound success for progressive changes and forward momentum. You can maintain the same hours of operation, capture the extra 25% in profits and then wisely reinvest those profits in greater timesaving initiatives.
By working smarter — not harder — through organised systems, cutting-edge technology, innovative advertising and dynamic employee training, you can prepare to put the business into the hands of capable others — which is the next step toward personal freedom. If somebody else is running the store — without any loss of productivity — it is possible for you to literally play golf all day without loss of income.
Distractions Are Hurting You More Than You Realise: Here’s Why
Research shows that returning to your original focus, following a distraction, takes, on average, a full 23 minutes and 15 seconds.
For most American professionals, distractions are a normal part of life. You’ll get an email notification in the middle of a project, or a text during a meeting, or you’ll notice an interesting article on social media when you’re trying to focus on a solo task.
Then you’ll dive down that rabbit hole to learn more about it.
On a surface level, distractions range from the pleasant and barely noticeable to the mildly annoying, but they may be affecting you more than you realise.
Building and getting back your focus
For some people, passing distractions never seem to cost much time. They’ll take 30 seconds or a minute to look at their phone, or even two minutes to scroll through their Facebook news feed; then they’ll return to work. But, if this doesn’t sound like you, you may be in the extreme minority, considering that 90 percent of employees self-report using social media during work hours.
Unfortunately, those minutes-long expenditures are only the tip of the iceberg. The time you spend on the distraction itself is trivial in most cases, but you also have to incorporate, in that “lost” time, the minutes it takes your brain to regain its focus on your initial task. And according to a study from the University of California-Irvine, that return to your original focus, following a distraction, takes, on average, a full 23 minutes and 15 seconds.
In other words, if you’re distracted at least once every 23 minutes, there’s a good chance you’ll never ramp up to your fully focused potential.
The dangers of multitasking
As if that weren’t bad enough, getting distracted also forces your brain to multitask; you won’t bring a project neatly to a close, so you’ll keep working on it to some degree while you attempt to shift your attention to another task competing for your attention.
This is bad for several reasons. According to Stanford neuroscientist Russ Poldrack, if you learn new information while multitasking, that information can get sent to the wrong part of the brain. You may feel that you’re paying attention in a meeting and reading up about a new creative brief at the same time, but chances are you won’t retain information from either source.
On top of that, the brain isn’t designed for multitasking; there are steeper metabolic costs to shifting your attention, which means the brain consumes far more oxygenated glucose during the changeover. If you switch back and forth between tasks often enough, you could feel disoriented, or even exhausted.
In addition, your brain will produce more cortisol, a stress hormone that often leads to irritability, aggression and impulsive behaviour.
The gateway distraction
It’s also important to consider the fact that most of our modern distractions have the potential to occupy far more than just a few minutes of our time. Most social media apps, for example, are designed to be addictive; they give you just enough of a reward to keep you using them; they provide no sense of completeness because of their infinite-scrolling potential and they constantly give you notifications so you can see what’s new.
If you aren’t careful, a quick look at your newsfeed can turn into a 30-minute long dive into the digital world.
When distractions are good
All that being said, there is a case for arguing that distractions can be beneficial. For example, there’s evidence to suggest that mental distractions can aid in pain relief, especially for sufferers of chronic pain. They may also provide short-term relief for anxiety and distress.
In addition, pulling yourself away from a task can give your brain some much-needed time to decompress and refocus. There’s a reason we tend to come up with our best ideas when we’re bored or otherwise unoccupied; the brain has more freedom and leisure to wander to new places and tinker with problems that exist in the background.
If you’re specifically using a distraction to help your brain refocus (and possibly de-stress for a moment), you can actually get some value from your distractions.
Despite some potential benefits (when your distractions are fully under your control), though, for the most part, distractions are damaging your productivity – and in multiple ways.
If you want to improve your overall output and de-stress in the meantime, your best option is to limit your distractions by turning off notifications, scheduling your breaks, staying more disciplined with sites and apps likely to steal your attention and communicating to your coworkers about your need to focus throughout the day.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Are You A Procrastinator? Don’t Be By Doing These 3 Things
Take control of your time and super-charge your day, making the most of your most valuable resource: Time.
The more time I spend thinking, writing and coaching about how to combat procrastination, the more I realise how much bigger this problem is than I initially thought. Every person reading this column will at some point have fallen victim to this avoidance behaviour. In fact, many of us fall prey to it daily.
If you’re serious about personal and business success, overcoming procrastination should be top of mind. If you’re able to master the ability to not procrastinate, you’ll supercharge your productivity and performance without the need for any new tools, techniques or information.
By simply doing what you are supposed to do, you become more effective. The most powerful truths are often the simplest ones too. Let’s look at three ideas that will help you create momentum.
One: Know Your Style
Did you know there are six procrastination styles? Thanks to the work of Sapadin and Maguire we have identified certain ‘archetypes’ that we can use to relate to procrastination styles. Going through the list is an interesting exercise for raising awareness. It won’t ‘cure’ procrastination but it gives you an interesting starting point for further exploration.
- The Perfectionist does not start or finish in case it is not perfect in the eyes of others or self. Typical for creatives and entrepreneurs.
- The Dreamer wants life to be smooth. They love to dream big without translating it into action. If their dreams never become reality, then they can never fail.
- The Worrier is always wondering “what if something goes wrong?” They get caught up in their heads and over-analyse the situation.
- The Defier is resistant to the instruction of others because they do not want to be told what to do. They procrastinate not because of the task at hand but because of their relationship with the task giver.
- The Crisis Maker likes living on the edge. They feel that the added pressure of a looming deadline makes them work better.
- The Over-doer takes on too much without establishing priorities and boundaries. They ultimately realise that they are overcommitted and start losing their grasp on the task.
Two: Time Immersion (TI)
I am currently completing my Master’s degree in Coaching. There have been times when I have found it incredibly difficult to motivate myself to do the work. One effective method that has helped me to progress is to focus on ‘time spent immersed’ instead of focusing on a specific outcome.
Instead of committing to a specific number of words or chapters I commit to just sitting down with the work for a specific amount of time. In my case, 45 minutes. This means that for those 45 minutes I immerse myself in the work. Reading a bit here, writing a bit there, and at the end of the 45 minutes I get up to take a break.
Time Immersion has two very important benefits. Firstly, we often procrastinate because a task is hard, and we don’t want to deal with the pain that comes with working on it. By committing to time immersed, hard things become easier. More importantly, they become easier without the judgement of whether you succeeded or failed. Secondly, it creates momentum. With every 45-minute TI session you will find yourself slowly chipping away at the frustration. We all know what happens when you chip away at a big problem with enough perseverance; it will be conquered.
Three: Let go of judgement
Those who procrastinate are not lazy. This is important to understand. True procrastination is a psychological phenomenon driven by our fear of failure, judgement and low frustration tolerance.
This is why procrastinators will often find other ways of keeping themselves occupied. Again, an avoidance behaviour, not just laziness.
If you identified your procrastination style, then this might have already given you some insight into why you do what you do. Knowing this, you can go beyond and examine the beliefs that you have that maintain your procrastinating behaviours.
Related: 4 Cures for Chronic Procrastination
One way to do this is to listen to your inner dialogue. That voice inside your head that loves to pull you down with negativity. Simply listen to the words that ‘he/she’ is using and then make a concerted effort to examine them. This is exactly what a coach would do.
If your inner voice says that you first need more information before proceeding with a task, stop, and ask yourself if that is really the truth.
If your inner voice says that you are a failure and that completing this task will expose you for the fraud you are, stop, and ask yourself if that is really true.
Usually, these irrational beliefs are easily refuted.
The truth is that you already know enough. You know what to do. You know how to do it. The thing stopping you is your relationship with yourself and the task at hand. You will find the key to overcoming procrastination inside yourself. Spend some time exploring the ideas that I suggested and see your productivity explode.
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