I found by trial and error that Iâ€™m more focused when Iâ€™ve had a bit of caffeine. Itâ€™s my theory that caffeine, like Ritalin, is a stimulant, thus it works on my brain in a similar way. Iâ€™ve never done the research to see if that jibes with anyone elseâ€™s experience or any trials, but so far itâ€™s worked for me. If I keep a slow but steady drip of coffee or soda into my system all day, Iâ€™m more productive and able to focus.
The problem is that if I have too much, suddenly Iâ€™m more hyperactive and impulsive than when I started. Itâ€™s especially perilous because the line between moderation and overindulgence is variable, but quite abrupt. I canâ€™t predict when Iâ€™m going to cross the line, but once I do, itâ€™s pretty damn unambiguous.
Letâ€™s take today as a prime example. I didnâ€™t get into work until lunchtime, because Iâ€™m on part time and Iâ€™ve been sick lately. I had a Coke mid-morning, then brought another in with me to work, hoping that it would be a nice, steady start of the ideal drip-feed. After lunch at my desk, I made the critical error of going out for a cup of coffee. I drank it too fast and from that point on my attention span was shot. I jumped restlessly from Twitter to news sites to back to work, then round again. Just to make the situation more confusing, I work in social media, so the line between productive work and goofing off is rather blurry.
Then, for reasons I canâ€™t begin to fathom, I found myself with a second cup of coffee in my hand, which I proceeded to drink. Then I was completely fucked and it took me an hour to get through the work-relevant article I was trying to read. Â I finally gave up at four and decided I couldnâ€™t even pretend to be doing billable work anymore.
As I write this, Iâ€™m trying to stop my leg from shaking the whole floor (it does that all the time, but worse when Iâ€™m caffeinated) and Iâ€™m having trouble focusing for long enough to get out more than a sentence at a time, despite having planned the whole post during the ride home.
So, what does this mean? Has anyone else had a similar experience self-medicating with caffeine? Is there any clinical evidence out there to support or debunk my thesis? Do I need to swear off the black stuff for a while?
While you ponder these facts, Iâ€™m going to go put on some fast music so I can dance this off.