For a busy executive, Matt Galligan devotes a good chunk of his mornings to making coffee. After waking up (sans alarm) the Circa CEO spends the next hour and a half making coffee and reading comics. “I’m not sitting at the coffee maker and hitting start,” he assured.
His preferred coffee brewing method takes a bit more cognitive know-how. Galligan uses a pour over setup, much like the type popularized by Blue Bottle. He handcrafts his cup of joe every morning, grinding the beans, which he gets from his favorite high-quality roasters, fresh that day. (Coffee snobs will tell you that grinds get stale after just 20 minutes.) Then, he slowly pours the water over the grinds sitting in a filter atop his Chemex. “My attention to detail on it is high,” he said.
His coffee routine is time- and concentratio- intensive for so early in the morning on a work day. But not only does it result in “superior coffee,” according to Galligan, it forces him to focus intensely on one thing for a moment. That thoughtfulness, in theory, translates to the rest of his day. If he can train his mind to focus on coffee, once he sits down to work he will better concentrate on building product for his popular news app, he says. Psychologists say that we can train our brains to focus better, like any muscle. And Galligan isn’t alone in using coffee to this end: Design genius Jony Ive also has a very intense, detail obsessive coffee routine.
Coffee or not, many of the most creative people use routines to foster creativity. Schedules “free our minds to advance to really interesting fields of action,” as William James, the founder of modern psychology, once said. Creating a daily routine around making a delicious cup of coffee isn’t a bad way to start.