Life
by Heath Bernstein on June 30, 2014

hangover

Too many of us labor through five straight days of grueling nonsense just to get blasted on Friday and Saturday. You grind and you grind and you grind and you grind through hours of indentured servitude, and what do you get in return? Two days of hazy hangovers before another mountainous workweek? That. Is. Insane.

So what are you saying, Heath? Are you saying that partying is stupid and should be avoided at all costs?

Don’t be a child. Of course you should party. The question at hand isn’t whether to party but rather when to party. I’m a huge proponent of clustering tasks. If a bunch of related tasks lie ahead, it is most efficient to group these tasks together and complete them as concurrently as possible. This is why we have supermarkets, convenience stores, and shopping malls. But clustering should be mental as well as physical, so which mentalities work best when grouped?

I am of the belief that if you’re going to feel shitty, you should feel shitty all at once. I’d rather be deathly ill for a solid year (and never feel sick again) instead of enduring 365 random sick days throughout the course of my life. Here’s why:

Option One: 365 Consecutive Sick Days

In this situation, you’re sick for a year, recover, and are never sick again. 365 days down the drain with nothing but good health ahead.

Option Two: 365 Non-Consecutive Sick Days

In this situation, you’re sick for 365 non-consecutive days. You’ll feel great in spurts, but every now and again, your immune system will temporarily come crashing to the ground.

So why pick Option One?

Imagine you fall sick on a Tuesday. Well, you probably started feeling a bit off on Monday. And even though you’ll make it to work on Wednesday, you’re probably still feeling a little under the weather. In reality, that singular sick day turns into three days of not feeling so great. While both options propose a cost of 365 sick days, the true cost of Option One results in 367 sick days (the day you start feeling sick + 365 days of being sick + the day you start getting better) whereas the true costof Option Two results in 1,095 sick days (365 x 3, since each sick day is bracketed by a day of feeling sick and a day of getting better). Even if you ignore the idea of true cost (367 vs. 1,095) and stick only to proposed cost (365 vs. 365), the certainty inherent in Option One provides a significant advantage over the uncertainty inherent in Option Two. But hypothetical sick days are a bit abstract. For a more concrete example…

Imagine you have a part-time job requiring 40 hours of work per month. You are also in control of creating your schedule as long as you work between 9 am-5 pm, Monday through Friday. Which of the following extremes would you choose?

Option One: Work 9 am-5 pm, 5 Days In A Row

In this option, you work five consecutive, 8-hour days.

Option Two: Work 2 Hours A Day For 20 days

In this option, you work two hours a day, Monday through Friday, over four consecutive weeks.

Three weeks off sounds pretty great, but two-hour workdays seem more than manageable. Is one choice clearly better than the other? Let’s find out…

Assume that getting ready for work, driving to work, and driving from work each takes approximately 30 minutes. This means the true cost of each workday is 90 minutes longer than the shift itself. In Option One, the true cost of working 40 hours is actually 47.5 hours since the total wakeup and drive time over five days equates to an additional 7.5 hours (90 minutes x 5 days).

In Option Two, the true cost of working 40 hours is actually 70 hours since the total wakeup and drive time for working twenty days equates to an additional 30 hours (90 minutes x 20 days).

In this scenario, Option One saves 22.5 hours per month by clustering the daily expense of wakeup and travel into the smallest quantity possible. Option One also provides flexibility for long-term vacation—a factor we’ll ignore for the time being.

But Heath! What does any of this have to do with partying???

Ah! As noted earlier, many people work five days in a row (often at a job they don’t particularly like) for two days of freedom. Then they tarnish their treasure with dehydration and nausea. This is as wasteful as wasteful gets.

Instead, why not maximize efficiency by clustering the shittiness of going to work with the shittiness of a hangover? You already hate waking up, you already hate putting on a tie, you already hate sitting in traffic, you already hate talking to your
boss, and you already hate the mundane tasks that lie ahead. Is a quality night of sleep really going to make a game-changing difference? I don’t possibly see how it could.

On the other hand, weekends are generally stress free. Why save all the happy juice for when you’re already smiling? Again, this is as wasteful as wasteful gets. If you just finished a workweek, then eat a good meal, get a quality night’s sleep, and prepare to maximize the enjoyment of your temporary freedom. However, if you just got home from a brutalizing Tuesday only to realize that more than half the workweek remains, I’d be hard pressed in naming a better time to throw a few back.

Now before going any further, I want to note that while my use of “hangover” has been quite literal, it needn’t be tied to a night of drinking. A “hangover” should be viewed as any enjoyable activity that makes tomorrow morning that much harder. Are you hesitant in attending that concert or going to that midnight show for fear of dragging ass the following day? Don’t be. You’ll get through it, like always, and the memory of your night out will carry far more weight than a morning of mild sluggishness.

But partying, like anything, should be done in moderation. This applies to both frequency and intensity, and by now you should know your tipping points. There will also be times when you need to be firing on all cylinders. Here, a good night’s sleep is essential. Conversely, if your best friend is getting married on Saturday, you may find it more than logical in sacrificing Sunday to the Hangover Gods. And please do. The notion of saving your hangovers for the weekdays is not a binary ideology, but rather an analytical assessment of routine behavior. If you feel like you’re stuck in a downward spiral of unfulfilling behavior, maybe it’s time to start experiencing your freedom without so much fog.

The weekdays are theirs. The weekends are yours.

Don’t sacrifice your freedom to make that which you already hate a little less hateable. Enjoy what’s yours while you can. The only thing I know for sure is that it won’t last forever.

About Heath Bernstein...