Can drinking alcohol make you more productive (or creative)?

by | Oct 8, 2019 | Energy, Podcast

Takeaway: Drinking alcohol can drain your energy the next day and leads to many negative health effects, but it can also lead you to loosen up, have more fun, and generate more creative ideas. It’s worth consuming alcohol strategically and with intent, rather than out of habit.

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 11s. Podcast Length26 minutes, 2s (link to play podcast at bottom of post).

Obligatory disclaimer: you should consult with your physician before taking any advice from the internet—particularly advice involving how to consume a drug such as alcohol.

Alcohol can impact your productivity quite a bit: if you were to go out tonight and have several vodka sodas with a lime twist (my drink of choice), you’d have one hell of a time trying to focus and be productive tomorrow.
Since my experiment to drink only water for a month—while cutting out alcoholic, sugary, and caffeinated drinks—I’ve started to view consuming alcohol through a completely different lens: as a way of borrowing both energy (and happiness) from tomorrow. Having a few drinks can be fun, but you usually have to pay the price later on. 
In this week’s episode of Becoming Better, my cohost Ardyn and I dig into the pros and cons of drinking alcohol.
The list of pros is not long. But with that said, occasionally indulging in a drink or two can lead you to become more creative, especially when you don’t overindulge. Alcohol does lead your mind to wander more, but since it makes your mind less inhibited you’re also more likely to generate creative ideas while under the influence. For this reason, whenever I’m stuck on a problem, or want to brainstorm a project, I’ll sit down with a notepad and a glass of wine, to see what ideas arise. Creativity aside, alcohol can of course also lead you to loosen up, and have a bit more fun when you’re out with friends.
As you might have guessed, the cons list for drinking alcohol is much more expansive. Alcohol compromises our sleep and energy, and can lead us to gain weight and overeat. On top of this, it impairs our memory, and is harmful to our liver, brain, and cardiovascular system. It can also increase the risk of us developing some types of cancer. And this doesn’t even account for the fact that, when we overindulge, we’re more likely to do stupid things that we regret.
For these reasons, much like with caffeine, it’s worth consuming alcohol strategically and deliberately, instead of out of habit. Before having a drink, ask: will you regret borrowing energy from tomorrow? Is the cost of feeling a bit drained worth the enjoyment you’ll get today? Do you plan on doing a bit of creative work to take greater advantage of your wandering mind?
Sometimes alcohol is worth consuming—but it just as often isn’t. I’ve started to drink less since beginning to think about alcohol this way—and at the same time, I feel better about having a drink or two when the time is right.

Written by Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey has written hundreds of articles on the subject of productivity and is the author of three books: How to Calm Your Mind, Hyperfocus, and The Productivity Project. His books have been published in more than 40 languages. Chris writes about productivity on this site and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can become more productive without hating the process.

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