As a solopreneur working from home, we’re often chained to our desk for hours on end. And while we know it’s important to take regular breaks, we’re often so deep in the zone that hours flow by. When working from home you don’t have colleagues dropping by, seducing you to a friendly chat by the water fountain (and of course, the coffee machine). Or the (scheduled or not) lunch breaks to catch up with the latest office gossip. That’s something we simply don’t have when we’re working from home. We all know that regular breaks are important for our productivity, but did you know that hydration is important for our performance as well?  It’s true, there are measurable benefits of hydration on our productivity.

Jaguar drinking water

While I think I’m quite a solid guy, the truth is that about 60% of my body (and yours too) is water. For our brain, this is even a whopping 73%. And the water is not just there to make it bigger and to look smarter, our brain needs it to manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters (those are pretty important to have so we’d better keep these guys well hydrated and happy).

General benefits of hydration

There’s a bunch of scientifically proven benefits of hydrating well, not only in regard to cognitive well-being and hangovers. The list is so long that I won’t go over all of them (the focus of this site is, after all, on productivity and time management), but I just couldn’t not share these amazing benefits of hydration:

  • Pain relief
  • Weight loss
  • Slow down the aging process
  • Reduce Acne, Psoriasis and premature skin aging
  • Better physical performance
  • Stronger immune systems
  • Stop high cholesterol
  • Speed up joint and cartilage repair
  • Combat fatigue
  • Reduce high blood pressure
  • Improves your mood

And if that’s not enough reason for you to start hydrating more, let’s go to our favorite topic… *drumroll*. Time management and productivity, yay!

Benefits of hydration on productivity

If we know that 73% of our brain is water, it’s probably not a surprise that hydration also has an impact on our cognitive performance. Research has shown that even a body water loss of 1-2%, which is considered mild dehydration already, impairs cognitive performance. A 2013 study showed that drinking water resulted in a 14% increase in productivity.

The unexpected beneifts of hydration on productivity

A 14% increase of in productivity? I’ll take that any day. But there’s even more. Some of the other benefits of hydration on productivity are clearer thinking, staying energized and a higher level of alertness. Yeah, baby!

So what, and how much, do you need to drink?

You probably saw it coming, but the best way to stay hydrated is drinking water. Of course, other beverages (except alcohol) help you to hydrate too, but they often contain loads of sugar (and those sugar dips do NOT do you any good!). And while I don’t advise you to go overboard with caffeine, research has proven that low to moderate caffeine intake does not have a negative impact on hydration compared to other fluids.

Let me repeat this again, as this is a (very) common misconception: A normal amount of coffee does not dehydrate.

Effect of coffee on productivity

Coffee aficionados rejoice! Drinking (a normal amount of) coffee has no negative impact on hydration

But exactly how much (water) do you need to drink to stay hydrated? The common belief that we should drink 8 glasses per day is just ridiculous. I mean, it doesn’t factor in your body type, environment, amount of exercise, gender, … There simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution (is there ever?). I found a great calculator that helps you to determine your liquid intake based on weight, height, age, gender and physical activity.

My quick tip for you

So, an easy tip would be to drink enough water during the day, which of course is solid advice. But there is too much variation in our days to easily make it a habit that sticks. So what I would advise you to do instead (or better yet: on top of this), is to drink 2 tall glasses of water (at least 17 ounces / half a liter. Yes, THAT much) the first thing you do in the morning. Put the water on your nightstand or next to your toothbrush or coffee machine so you have a visual cue.

Drinking water is a great part of your morning routine because it fires up your metabolism by a whopping 24% for the next 90 minutes. It makes sense too, right? Just imagine not drinking any water or other liquids for the next eight hours. That’s essentially what you do while you sleep: your body slowly dehydrates because:

  1. you sweat
  2. your body consumes water to operate

On a closing note, did you know that 80% of the US adult population is at least mildly dehydrated on a daily basis? (which, as you know, causes a 14% decrease in productivity). Let’s make it a habit to be in the other 20%, okay?

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