Caffeinated Beverage Alternatives and Essay Writing

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

Jack Sullivan

It’s the end of March, and spring fever is starting to loom throughout campus. While the spring weather permits more outdoor activities, the term papers are multiplying.  If caffeinated beverages make you overly jittery and too anxious to actually focus, like me, doing work at this point in the semester may seem impossible.  However, caffeine supplements aren’t necessary to ace your papers and better yet, you can still enjoy the weather outside with enough energy!  Here are six alternatives to caffeine that will motivate you to write equally as well as your overly caffeinated friends.

1. Take a study break.

Yes, this point may seem very counterintuitive, but it really can be effective if done purposefully.  Whether you go have food with friends, take a walk outside, or just mindlessly binge-watch ONE Netflix episode, stepping away from a paper can actually be a productive opportunity to gather thoughts in a different setting.  The trick is to stay disciplined.  If done right, you will feel rejuvenated and motivated to do work!

2. Start the assignment early.

I know this point may make me sound like a nagging teacher, but starting a prompt early will ultimately help the most.  The sooner you begin the prompt, the less stressed you’ll be by the deadline and the higher the quality of work will be.

3. Write anything and everything down like a madman.

If you have no energy to think about the writing topic, try writing every thought coming to your head onto the paper and organize it later (no shame, I’ve been here before way too often as well).  While this strategy makes you look like a lunatic with nonsensical gibberish on the paper, it’s a healthy start on the way to a successfully completed essay.  You’d be surprised, as you may find an interesting point to develop along the course of your paper buried within your wild thoughts.  No caffeine necessary.

4. Listen to Spotify light classical music.

Music can be a wonderful writing aid, but it is so easy to listen to the wrong genres.  While I get that Taylor Swift has jams and Post Malone’s songs are overly catchy, the last thing you want to do while writing is start singing along to the songs.  Not only will you lose focus, but the songs will get stuck in your head.  Your mood will switch from studying to party mode in no time.  Instead, I suggest to open Spotify and click: BrowseàFocusàPeaceful PianoàShuffle Play.  You can thank me later for the invigorating yet calm background noise.

5. Push-ups.

While I’ve been an athlete throughout my life, I never was a gym rat.  That being said, cranking out a couple of push-ups is a great way to get blood circulating throughout your body, providing a natural motivational rush.  This is my favorite technique to do when I’m falling asleep writing (all the time).  Even doing ten push-ups is a step in the right direction, and you’ll be shocked by how great you feel from this simple exercise.

6. Gut it out.

If my athletic career has taught me anything, the most important characteristic to possess is perseverance.  Maybe you didn’t get to start your essay on time and it is due tomorrow—that doesn’t matter.  You need to make the essay yours.  Have a good, old-fashioned all-nighter with the essay.  While I absolutely despise losing sleep, nothing feels better than winning the battle of successfully writing the paper.  Order some food, take a deep breath, and go to town.  It’s all a mental battle.

Hopefully these tips help my non-caffeinated friends successfully complete their essays.  English majors have been associated as coffee addicts for too long, and it is time that this perception is changed, as these are different strategies that still stimulate the creative juices.  Good luck, and keep writing!

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