You've heard of at least two of them. But first, a disclaimer—I want to keep you and myself out of trouble.
DISCLAIMER: The following is for entertainment purposes only. This is not medical advice. Do not do anything with the information below—if you act on it, you assume full responsibility. Using prescription medication for purposes otherwise prescribed for is illegal.
My relationship with productivity (mental performance) used to be a toxic one, but a loving one nonetheless. I grew up believing the seemingly harmless notion that you gotta work hard at everything you do. I grew up to believe that there was virtue in working hard and doing things the hard way. "Oh, I can use a drill? I'll stick to the screwdriver."
Don't get me wrong, I'm not implying that one should be a slacker (hear me, McFly?) and merely wish things get done somehow. We simply end up allocating our finite units of energy on the wrong things.
When I was starting a coffee shop, I put in the expected long hours. I did this for a prolonged period. My budget was limited, so I was forced to do a lot myself. The reward (in a nutshell)?
A lot got accomplished.
Got the shop off the ground.
And got lots of mental stress and anxiety.
Launching is the easy part. But keeping a business afloat and growing is another monumental task. So I kept at it. Hustling and grinding. Forcing myself to the limits.
But I still believe this self-mutilation effort (part of it at least) was necessary. I had no other choice.
I'm sure you've exclaimed to yourself, "there aren't enough hours in the day to get things done."
So how can we do more, in less time?
Let's talk about performance enhancers.
If you spend some time doing a search for nootropics,—go a few feet deep into the rabbit hole—you'll discover some people talk about a piracetam and choline stack. Tried that, and I guess it worked. I can't say it did convincingly.
A cup of coffee with L-theanine pills. Can't tell if it worked, either.
Then I heard other people talk about Modafinil. Some described it as what Adderall wants to be when it grows up.
At last, blastoff!
Modafinil (brand name Provigil) is a prescription medication that is used to treat narcolepsy and sleep disorders. Consult the oracle for more information on this medication.
I was ecstatic. Bursting with joy–internally (go introverts!) After taking a small dose, I felt it. It worked too good!
What does it feel like?
It's like NOS for your brain. You feel a sort of lift-off. The ascension is a little bumpy and shaky, but then you reach cruising altitude. But I can't say it feels like gliding smoothly through the stratosphere. It's more like driving a car on a racing track.
This shit worked. I didn't even need coffee to be productive. I was alert. I could go on marathons, effortlessly. While I did not see algorithms suspended in air, I did achieve sustained alertness and completely 10x'ed my productivity.
Mod and I were best buds and I loved it. Until one day, I thought I was in the process of dying.
If you go too fast, you will break.
This is a story that needs a separate post. But this is the gist of it. I had inadvertently mixed modafinil, with caffeine, with alcohol, tobacco, and THC.—quite the recipe for disaster once you see it written down.
That night, I truthfully thought was going to die. I even texted my sister my location in case they don't hear back from me.
After that incident, I was a lot more mindful and respectful of the pill. I learned from my mistakes and felt like I knew how to best optimize for it and have a strict operational protocol.
Fast forward about 6 months to another incident
I was hungover.
I had to go to work.
I didn't have the energy.
But not to despair, some modafinil will give me the boost.
A few hours later, I started feeling anxious—I've never experienced this before. It was not the kind of anxiety you feel when you have to deliver a speech or when the concert is about to start—but the kind you feel your heart pounding, you take deep breaths but air doesn't seem to be absorbed, and you use all your might to not pass out.
I had to step outside—because if I pass out, I can do it out of sight from customers. I remained seated because if you collapse standing up, your head will take a nasty hit on the floor.
About 30 minutes later, after much debate (becau$e I didn't have in$urance!) I asked a friend (thank you Amy!) to take me to the clinic. Halfway through the trip, we decided to just drive around and I started to feel normal. This was the last time I took a modafinil pill.
After having some time to ponder, I came to my senses.
Wrecking my body and mind like this for the sake of being more productive is not worth it. It's toxic. It's all rooted in the glorification of hustle culture and toxic unrealistic performance ideals.
But now, my quest for more natural, holistic and responsible productivity-enhancement continues.
I've been utilizing this "stack" for months successfully. My anxiety is at bay (therapy was a big part of this) this gives me the closest thing to modafinil or adderall-like performance.
So here's my productivity stack (not hierarchical).
• • •
• 8 hrs of quality sleep.
• No hangovers.
• A tamed and calm mind.
• An elixir of medium-light roasted coffee with lion's mane mushroom.
Let's quickly gloss over each point:
Sleep is important. Whoever tells you to sleep less so you can do more is a criminal. Toxic and dangerous advice. You must recharge. For some people, their optimum sleep time is 6, some 7, other 8. Anything more than that, you're getting greedy.
Pretty self-explanatory. You will not be productive if you're hungover. Even worse, as you get older, you'll have to be more strict with the amount of poison you put in your body. And let's hope you're not making the cardinal sin of mixing booze.
A tamed and calm mind
There is a whole field of science dedicated to this. But here's the gist of it: Keep your thoughts under control so that these thoughts are not controlling you throughout the day. Professional therapy works. (even though you think you don't need one) it's always good to get a "checkup." I know, stuff's expensive and "ain't nobody got time for that." Additionally, take up meditation. Go on the oracle and do a bit of research on the benefits of it. Then practice it.
A cup of medium-light roasted coffee with a dose (more of this below) of lion's mane mushroom. This natural combination is the closest thing to modafinil performance I've experienced. It works—most of the time. It only works when you meet the other 3 stack components.
It's natural, clean AND it's good for you.
A lot is being discovered that shines a light on the power of mushrooms:
So how do you make this mushroom coffee elixir?
Choose the right coffee beans.
You must use medium to light roasted coffee beans. The lighter the better—it will have more caffeine. Contrary to popular belief, dark roasted beans have less caffeine—it hast been roasted off.
Don't use your most expensive coffee. Save your Panamanian Geisha for your blissful coffee experiences. Go for an inexpensive fresh-roasted house blend from your local roaster (support the local economy).
From this point, you can either dissolve the lion's mane powder into your coffee or take it in capsule form. I'll usually carry capsules in my backpack and leave the powder for home use.
So what to choose?
Ideally, you want pure 100% lion's mane powder made from the mycelium (as opposed to the fruiting bodies). This is what Paul Stamets, an authority on all-things mushrooms, recommends as the most beneficial.
There's a lot of contradictory information right now online about which one is most beneficial, but I'll take whatever Mr. Stamets says.
For pill form, only use capsules from Paul Stamets' brand, Host Defense. They also recently started making lion's mane mycelium powder. I've tried powder from fruiting bodies from other brands. They still have the same effect—but I believe I get better results from mycelium powder. But, I've yet to experiment on this further.
Step 1. Brew your coffee using any paper filter method.
I recommend you use a paper filter brewing method because it gives you a "thinner" body compared to a more robust and muddy cup from a french press. When you use powder, it will add a bit of body and grittiness to the cup—but not in an unpleasant way.
Step 2. Add the lion's mane
If using powder, start with half the recommended dose.
See how you react.
Try it a couple more times.
Then work your way up to a full dose. Always err on the safe side. I've heard people get a bit of anxiety (perhaps from caffeine sensitivity?), and others did not feel any distinguishable effects.
Depending on what brand and kind of powder you buy, the dose will vary. Follow the recommended dose.
In this example, I'm using Lion's Mane powder from the fruiting bodies, so 4 grams is my sweet spot.
Mix it up and voilá!
We all have things we want to achieve in life. Career goals, starting products or business, etc. And all this takes a lot of effort, dedication, grit, etc.
I encourage you to think about your productivity habits. Are you using any prescription pills? Is it sustainable? Are you being good to your body and soul? (I know someone out there is saying, this is the most snowflakey shit I've heard you say. Yes, you're right!)
I will admit to you that on occasions I'll go on long sprints and do long days—but I'll make sure to balance things out and give my body time to recover.
How will you achieve your goals, get shit done and celebrate your wins if you're wrecking your body, overworked, anxious, burnout and internally miserable?
There's another virus on this planet and it's called hustle-culture. But more on that another time!
Be good to yourself!