Strategy. Innovation. Brand.

Creativity and Caffeine

Gosh, I'm feeling so creative.

Gosh, I’m feeling so creative.

Last December I wrote a brief article asking, Are You More Creative When You’re Sleepy? The general idea is that you’re less likely to stick to nonproductive routines when you’re tired. Let’s assume that you know the “right” way to do something. When you’re fresh and energetic, you may repeat the process multiple times, even if it doesn’t work well. You’re more likely to assume that the process is correct but you’re making a mistake. Thus, you repeat the process, expecting to correct the mistake and achieve success. When you’re tired, you’re more likely to give up, and try something different — perhaps something more creative.

This week The New Yorker has an article looking at the same phenomenon from a different perspective. The question: does caffeine inhibit creativity? Caffeine tends to stimulate and focus the mind. If you’re more creative when you’re tired — because your mind wanders — then caffeine should reduce your creativity.

Maria Konnikova — who wrote Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes — wrote The New Yorker article and it’s well worth a read. Even if you’re not interested in creativity, you’ll be fascinated with the way Honoré de Balzac inhaled ground coffee dust because the brewed stuff just wasn’t strong enough.

2 Responses to Creativity and Caffeine

  • The link between Travis and coffee.
    Every morning when I get to work, unless Dan beats me to the office, I make the first carafe of coffee. With the Travis White coffee maker that a certain marketeer left behind for the remaining minions to enjoy. Surprised that it’s still alive, working…and on some mornings downright cherished?
    We’ll be moving to new offices sometime soon – something that comes with business growth – and I find myself thinking whether upgrade space and new coffee urns will displace this gentle reminder of someone whose wit and intelligence are often missed, or whether the sentimental 12-cup morning waker-upper will make the journey with us, once again.

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