Daily Routines

Coffee is a staple of my morning routine. Like many people I start my day with coffee, and I continue to drink coffee throughout the morning. This blog, is about how I get my coffee. Now before you go on leaving because you think getting coffee is boring, let me say that I think how you get your coffee, or really how you do any routine, can be an exciting part of your day. We will get there.

My First Coffee Habit

During my years in college you might say that I was an atypical student, because I never got into the whole coffee thing. At Southern Illinois University Edwardsville we were even able to buy Starbucks on our meal plan. For the most part I never participated, except for the White Chocolate Mocha. To this day I think Starbucks puts crack in that thing.

My first real experience with a coffee habit came when I got my first career job, technically after my second internship. I worked for a company that made scoreboards. It was a fun job, but as far as engineering companies are concerned , they lacked a few perks. One such perk was a coffee maker. Now you may be wondering how you can have a company without a coffee maker, but what they lacked in coffee makers they made up with some of the best people I have ever had the pleasure to work with.

That is not quite the point, however, the point is the coffee! So, in lieu of a coffee maker, we had access to a coffee vending machine. This machine could make coffee in various ways. My favorite came to be the cappuccino. Just try to imagine how I would have spelled cappuccino without google! Back on subject. My cappuccino cost 25 cents a piece, it was a somewhat small cup, and it was hotter than Richard Simmons after a nice workout.

I'm what some may call, impatient when it comes to my hot drinks. I want to drink them immediately, and at a constant rate to enforce my creacher of habit. My Richard Simmons cappuccino, therefore, posed a problem. I could accept that there would be a small amount of time at the beginning of my day in which I would not be able to drink, but after that I needed coffee, caffeine, or crack, at a constant rate.

The First Approach

Over the course of a few months, I observed my problem set and began to make incremental changes to my routine in order to make myself happier. It started, by getting a broader rimmed cup to increase the surface area of the hot liquid, and therefore increase the rate in which it cooled. It also helped that my wife had made said cup in her pottery class, which added to the sentimental benefit of using this cup.

After getting my faster cooling system in place, I was faced with a separate problem. How do I keep my liquid at a consistently warm temperature while in this super cooling cup? The answer took a little while to come up with, but after trying the microwave, various timing techniques, and poring strategies, I came up with a two cup system. Since the cups that the cappuccino came in were tall and slender, they maintained their temperature rather well. After being transferred to my cooling cup, the liquid cooled quickly. Therefore, I kept a certain portion of my cappuccino in the original cup to keep it warmed, and put the rest in the more broad cup. This system became a three cup system eventually, which involved two slender cappuccino cups, but I think the point has been made.

What Is The Point?

The point is this. Seeing a problem that I am faced with daily, hot coffee, I decided to fix my problem. In the act of fixing my problem I engaged my brain in an activity that was outside of my normal scope. I think of this as stretching the brain. My theory is simple. At the basic level, out brain is made up of a bunch of neurons that have made connections between one another. By forcing my brain to think of things that it normally would not, I'm forcing new connections to be made.

This goes well beyond the normal routine. In fact, you can seek these opportunities to make new brain connection virtually anywhere you would like to. Here are some things that I like to do:

  • After feeling an intense emotional feeling, I write a poem about it. Not because I'm good at writing poems, but because it forces me to verbalize my emotions.
  • When I watch a commercial, I try to analyze why I feel good or bad after watching it. I connect that with the intention of the commercial to decide if it was good.
  • I am a religious person. I also have books on my bookshelf about topics that are explicitly against my religion. I do this to stretch my thoughts, and understand what others believe, which creates more neuron connections.

The point, is to daily think about something in a different way. Doing this with something that you do daily can produce, well, daily results.

My Second Coffee Habit

After working with the scoreboard company I moved to Asynchrony, where I have happily been for three years come January. I was gaining a little, girth, in places where I didn't want to from the cappuccinos co I decided to switch to straight black coffee. The transition was rough, but I find that making transitions are easier when making other life transitions that are more concrete. I took a new job, I related drinking plain coffee with my new job, I can't easily change my job, therefore I am stuck drinking plain coffee. Just a small anecdote.

Asynchrony, does have a free coffee machine, and a Keurige machine. Two options are great, but of course I have to narrow the choice to one. This only took a few weeks. After coming to the normal coffee machine a few times in a row to find that there is no coffee, you give up on being the only one who actually makes the coffee. As an interesting point I have observed this to be a problem area in many companies, and I think it goes far beyond making the coffee.

Two Reasons For Not Making Coffee

You choose to not make coffee when you take the last bit for one of two reasons. The first is because you think the company values your time more than mine. Think, is the main word here because really our employer has deemed us both worthy of spending the time to allow us to get coffee, and has not provided a separate person to make the coffee, therefore they accept that I, as a coffee drinker, may have to make the coffee. Just saying.

The second reason I would not make a new pot of coffee is far more serious. I do not care about what the company thinks, or who spends there time making coffee, I deserve it, and I'm not going to waste my time making it. The reason this is an issue has nothing to do with coffee, but with the persons initiative. They have obviously decided that they are entitled to not preform the job of a lowly coffee maker, and thus, have placed their own priority on their time based on their pride.

Conclusion

I don't point these things out to say that Asynchrony is filled with coffee pot snobs, we have tons of great people who fill the coffee pot regularly. I say this to point out how what you don't do, speaks as loudly as what you do do.

In particular to this post, I think that when you fall into a rut, or quit caring, you stop making new neurological connections. This reflects itself in your daily routine, work ethic, and general creativity. In contrast, by working to improve routine things, you can improve your thought process, and thus the quality of your work.