Coffee Detox 2020 Retrospective

Today I finished my once yearly coffee detox process. I went to my favorite local coffee roastery for a Cortado, and I thought I’d share some thoughts from the process.

Water is your friend and I’m glad I stuck to my suggestions. I broke my alcohol rule a few times and that wasn’t a bad experience, it just made me think of having coffee more than I would have.

I also tricked my brain from wanting to do my usual coffee routine, by making coffee for someone else. Even though I didn’t drink it, I still “made coffee” which surprisingly helped. I will admit I encountered some waste on some days by tanking a single espresso shot and disposing of it 🙁 I feel bad, but it actually helped me.

Avoiding soft drinks was a huge win, BUT, I did have more sugar than usual. I generally avoid high sugar foods, but for whatever reason I found myself gravitating towards chocolate. This I failed at on several days.

Once I got to the 25th, it was super easy to not drink coffee at all. By that point I had been drinking only decaf for 2 full weeks. The last week with no coffee at all was very easy.

Interestingly enough, yesterday was international coffee day 😀 I’ll probably continue to have a cup when I choose to.

I guess that’s the whole point of doing this once a year – intentional choice rather than “needing” to have a cup!

How I Detox from Coffee

In 2016 I realised just how serious my “dependence” on coffee had become. I was averaging the equivalent of 3 double espressos before lunch, and then continuing in the afternoon.

To be fair, I was drinking that in a Cortado, but still…that’s a lot. And like a lot of people, I typically wasn’t drinking nearly enough water.

So I did some research and decided to detox once a year from coffee.

The goal was to eliminate my long term dependance on coffee.

I’ve done this every year since then, and I find it helps me focus on other things, as it removes the coffee ritual as the central point of my morning.

My machine at home, decaf beans, and Rehydrat.

What exactly do I do?

  1. I pick a date to start. The 1st is easiest to remember 🙂
  2. I finish the beans I have left, unless it’s a lot! No need to waste good coffee!
  3. I tone down how many coffees per day I have. I switch to 1 double espresso and then decaf if I want another cup.
  4. I do this until my regular beans are finished which for me was today (3rd) – and then I have a coffee from my local roaster once a day until the weekend.
  5. Get a good bag of decaf beans. I use Mexico beans from my local roaster.
  6. Drink a decent amount of water – at least 1 litre per day. I add Rehydrat, which in other countries is electrolytes. This helps with the headaches. I add 1 sachet to 500ml water, so 1-2 sachets per day.
  7. I keep drinking the decaf + water with electrolytes for about a week – this takes me to the 11th.
  8. When I feel I can wake up without immediately heading for the coffee machine, I then switch to a cup of decaf in late morning, continuing to drink lots of water.
  9. Keep going like that for another 2 weeks – this takes me to the 25th – and have a single cup of decaf if I want, or have a cup of green/peppermint tea instead. I like peppermint tea and it really chills me out.
  10. Last week of the month is no coffee at all. Total detox finishing on 2 October for me.

Some notes

  • This is not a checklist for everyone. It worked for me. Your body is probably quite different to mine!
  • Take the water consumption seriously. If you don’t hydrate you’ll likely feel the headache withdrawal pain way more intensely.
  • I tend to avoid coke/soft drinks as a substitute. This defeats the purpose…
  • I try not to drink a lot of alcohol. Withdrawal from coffee leads to “downer” type symptoms. Alcohol is a downer as well, so I’m more cautious here.
  • I drink Oat Milk in my coffee. Nut milk is also helpful.

Reintroducing Coffee

I do this pretty slowly. Probably a cup on the weekend, usually something light like a flat white, or a weak Americano. Smashing an espresso is not going to be fun 🙂

Let me know your experiences, if it was worth it for you 🙂

A not so routine, routine!

I recently wrote about my remote routines and there’s a line in there that is quite appropriate for this week 🙂

Just take it day by day and make adjustments as you see fit.

So, with our governments recent changes to our lockdown levels, they have required teachers to start going back to work, even if they aren’t teaching classes yet. My wife is a teacher, and that means she’s no longer at home during the week until the afternoon.

That leaves me at home with my 2 young kids.

We’ve had to adapt our routine and this week is the first week of doing this, but it’s pretty tricky as this new routine so far relies heavily on my discipline. Here’s basically how it goes:

  • 6-7am wake up, my wife goes to work.
  • 7-8am kids wake up, I feed them, get them dressed.
  • 8am Do my quiet time (if there’s quiet) and make coffee.
  • 9am Let the kids play because…they’re kids.
  • 11am Teach my eldest and get her doing her school work
  • 12:30pm Lunch
  • 1:30pm Put my youngest down for her nap
  • 2pm-10pm Start work for the day. I’ll finish up at 10pm with a break for supper, cup of tea with my wife, and the kids bedtime. If I don’t have a hard stop at 10pm I won’t get enough sleep and the next day is utterly broken 😛

It’s not the best solution, but it’s a workable one until these lockdown restriction are over.

Remote Routines

Let’s talk about morning routines for a few minutes in the life of a remote worker.

I’m someone who benefits greatly from structure. I do though perform really well under pressure, and I’m usually open to change, but I definitely feel I’m at my best when it comes to my work when I’m following a regular routine.

My preferred morning routine is:

  • 5am wakeup and read my bible/pray.
  • 6-7am kids wakeup, feed them, get them ready for school.
  • 7-9am school run/I run.
  • 9am coffee then work.

Where this has been failing massively is when I’ve been working late into the night – which has been a lot lately. There are a number of reasons why this has happened – some my fault, some because of the nature of timezones, some handling stressful circumstances.

The biggest problem with this has been that it’s knocked out my 5am wakeup and “quiet time” – and this really sucks 🙁 because to be quite frank, I’m less of myself when I’m disconnected from my prayer life. Simply put, I’m not awesome to be around!

This often produces a snowball effect into the rest of the day. And you’d think that after remote working for 10 years I would have this down to an art?

Ha, you are sadly mistaken 🙂

So why did I write this? In light of all the people heading into remote work with all this worry about COV-19, I thought I’d offer some perspective on heading into a much less structured work environment.

When I moved into remote work it was complex, but at least at Woo we had a slow descent into it over a long period of time so the change was less abrupt.

But also, if you do fail at your routine – don’t beat yourself up about it 🙂 it will happen! Just take it day by day and make adjustments as you see fit.

If you feel like me, that the start of the day is super important – then do your best to keep that going! Whether it’s a prayerful start as in my case, medication of some kind, exercise, or simply making a coffee – you do the thing that gets you that first “win” for the day!

Keep iterating just like we do when making software 🙂 It’s never perfect!

Also, if you are looking to get out of an office based environment and make the switch into remote work, we’re hiring!

Podcast Appearance on WP Hacker Cast

Recently I was invited to appear on the podcast WP Hacker Cast by a prominent WordPress Cape Town community member, and an all around great guy – Jonathan Bossenger

We had a great conversation about my development career, how I ended up at Automattic, WordPress, and just had a great time for an hour and 20 minutes! Let me know what you thought in the comments on his site, or here!

If you aren’t subscribed to his podcast, you should check it out here!

Go Go Gutenberg!

I was browsing the WordPress.org plugins repo looking at a few block plugins, and there’s a bunch of them! And that made me wonder about my minor obsession with creating a great landing page experience using WordPress. I haven’t talked much about that, but I’ve done quite a lot of (possibly too much) research into it.

In my head I have this vision of creating simple landing pages using WordPress without having the need to buy page builders or additional templates etc. I really think that a simple landing page should be possible using the native WordPress editor (Gutenberg).

So, who would like to see a short blog/vlog series where I put up some landing pages using only free plugins in the WordPress.org plugin repo?

The format would be:

  • Showcase a type of landing page.
  • What would the elements be?
  • What free WP products would we use?
  • The build process!
  • A finished landing page demo on this site.
  • Downloadable block content so you try it on your own site.

Let me know what you think in the comments below…

Taking Breaks: 1 Week In

Well, 1 week into my break from Social Media and I thought I’d give an update/perspective on how it’s gone so far.

It’s been tough. I’ve found myself open a new tab in my browser and start typing the letters face… and then quickly close the tab. I’ve found the same thing on my phone, I’ve opened the FB app up a few times and realised, hang on, I shouldn’t be in here, and quickly hit the home button 🙂 Instagram has been the worst to leave alone, as well as Twitter. When the hell did I become so addicted to these platforms?

But the bottom line is, as the days go by, it’s becoming easier to ignore, I spend less time on my mobile and on non productive websites, and I’m feeling happier to be honest. I even found some time to go a music shop last week! That almost never happens these days.

Overall, things are looking positive, and I’m anticipating a better week avoiding the social stuff this week.

Social Media, Distractions, and Taking Breaks

I’ve been using social media pretty much every day of my life for the past 8 years, and I’ve been growing slowly dissatisfied with how much it has encroached into my life I’ve let it encroach into my life.

I have accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, Youtube, LinkedIn, and who knows what else I’ve forgotten. And then there’s the work stuff which is essential, namely Slack and our internal p2’s.  The load of information is just immense if you combine personal and professional.

The problem with information, is that often it’s just noise. Very often, distracting noise. And I don’t like distracting noise, but often I get suckered into spending time there when I should be doing other things, like;

Spending time with my family.

Praying.

Connecting with my friends.

Working.

Relaxing.

So, I’m taking the month of August off from my personal social stuff. Don’t expect me to reply to anything on Facebook or Twitter, pretty much the only thing I’ll reply to of my personal stuff is my email, Whatsapp, and taking phone calls. I might read a few things once a week, but the only personal stuff I’ll be doing is blogging here.

I used to wake up in the mornings and be excited to read my Bible. Like an actual paper Bible, not some app on my phone. Now I just spend way too much time on Facebook, and stupid things like that. It was so much more fulfilling before all this.

So anyways, this is my attempt at detoxing from the social media world for a bit 🙂 See you on the other side!

Parting note: I love tech but I can allow it to takeover large chunks of my life at times, so no hating on social media platforms from me 😉

Thoughts on 2015

Yes, I know, another year in review type post…but for me this year has been profound in a variety of different ways.

Today I finish up my 2015 working year, and return in early Jan, but it’s also the end of the first 6 months since Automattic acquired WooThemes. It’s been quite a time of nostalgia for me, particularly yesterday when some framed photos of each year’s WooTrip arrived at the Cape Town office.

It’s funny how after 6 years so much has changed. I look at that photo of the 6 of us, and even though only 4 are still around, it’s pretty crazy and extremely humbling to see what has been accomplished since then.

Woo Photos
Woo Photo wall, I’m furtherest on the left in the top left framed picture.

 

When I joined Woo, WooCommerce was merely a thought, no code, just an idea. And we wondered when we would get to it. It’s funny how a single product can change a business and capture the embrace of a community.

It hasn’t been all roses to be honest over the past 2 years for me. There have been times where I’ve been unsure of things and my future, but I’ve sought prayer and wise counsel throughout and I’m grateful for those people in my life.

Probably the biggest change this year for me was the shift away from doing additional freelance work (outside of Woo). I did freelance work mostly for fun and if there were interesting projects, not as a “have to”. But looking back, I probably took on more than I should have, and that sucks.

It’s been well documented by several people that Automattic has a COI policy – and, I don’t think it’s bad, I actually think it’s great. For me, I’m pretty drained at the end of my work day these days, and I don’t want to see a screen! I just want to relax with my family, pickup my guitar, have a swim, see my friends, basically detach from the world of tech.

This has been a massive mindshift.

I used to be “always on” but now I try to focus all my energy during my work day and detach after hours. The funny thing about that, is I’ve found I’m a lot more productive these days. I feel more focused at work, I get more sleep, and I’ve built a more meaningful relationship with my wife and daughter.

All in all, it’s been a tough year (in a good way), but has been a very rewarding year. I honestly feel proud of what I’ve been part of accomplishing at Woo, and now at Automattic, how things have changed for me personally, and the outlook for 2016. It’s an exciting time and I’m looking forward to connecting again next year, whether it’s online or in person.

So, for now, I’m signing off. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year period.

See you later!

Fixing Features First

I’ve always been fascinated by people who simply complain about things that are within their power to change, yet they don’t seem willing to actually make that change.

It’s like complaining about your countries president, and then not turning up to vote.

I’ve seen this often in the WordPress world, recently specifically about XML-RPC, and a few of those complaining haven’t contributing jack squat to core (other than conversations)

Something I don’t like about core is how authentication works with the WP-API. But…I’m actually trying, in my own time, to see if I can figure it out before I go wading into deep waters of emotional conversation on make.wordpress.org – too often people weigh in about features without checking their emotions or before attempting/suggesting a solution.

As a long time plugin and theme developer I appreciate customers who have tried to solve the problem first before complaining at me. I happily apologise when things are broken, but I’ll always go the extra mile for those who have shown initiative!

Perhaps rather try a fix first next time?