A coffee-drinking habit that works: No more, no less

Coffee cups

How much coffee is optimum? Is moderation easier or harder than cold turkey? © Laura Eades 2013 all rights reserved

This is a new habit that I’m putting to the test right now as part of a series of posts called Cool, calm and caffeinated. I’ve been doing it for about three weeks and so far, it’s the closest I’ve come to a coffee-drinking compromise. I’m calling this habit No More, No Less. This is part of a wider habit change programme I’m planning for myself that’s going to try to tackle the way one bad habit depends on another (too much coffee=craving sweet foods=staying up late=sacking off morning exercise routine etc etc), called 66 days to overcome the Urge for More. More about that later, since I’m still testdriving various elements! Let’s look at this lynchpin habit.

A quick reminder of why

The reason for it is that, when I’m trying to be productive or creative, my caffeine intake slowly escalates until I have a sore throat and inflamed tonsils, am disconnected from my loved ones, I’ve lost focus and become easily distracted, and I’m racing through each day numbed out without really living. I use it like cocaine and then have a crash. Needless to say, my creative process comes to an abrupt end as I have to recuperate.

This time, I want a creative process which I can sustain over two whole months.

What’s the habit and how does it work? 

Simple. I have designated what I will have and when. And I will never NOT have it.

  • One cup of coffee with breakfast (which is at 6.50am, after running or meditation).
  • One cup of tea with lunch (which is at 12.30. I make the tea along with lunch and put it on my breakfast tray).

Does this sound nerdily rigid? It sure as hell is! Why? Because if I give myself an inch…

And because, when you’re trying to bed in a new habit, you have to do it exactly, every single day.

Provisions in the rules

  1. I will ONLY drink the cup of coffee and the cup of tea AT THE TIMES GIVEN in the plan. It is NOT an option to vary the times in the plan. It is NOT an option to replace one of the drinks with something different. Not even a green tea. There is no variation or negotiation. No spontenaiety. Kein fantasie, as my German teacher says.
  2. If I’m in a cafe, I’ll order exactly what’s in the plan. If I have a cafe day, I’ll wait on breakfast and then have my coffee and breakfast in the cafe, or I’ll have lunch and a cup of tea there.

Will it work?

I’m optimistic. I’ve tried cold turkey a couple of times this year, and it falls down. So this is a new approach: moderation. I’ve test-run it for a week or two and I find I’m really relishing the caffeine I have without searching for more. Result! Now the challenge is to run the habit for long enough that it sticks.

Note: If moderation sounds obvious to you, then perhaps moderation comes easily to you. Amazing: please do me a huge favour and write in the comments section at the bottom of the post (click on the grey plus sign in the circle to open up the comments section) what you think it is that allows you to ‘stop’ when I want more, more more. I’m genuinely curious!

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This is Post 2 in the Cool, calm and caffeinated series. To visit the series index page, click here.