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Is coding with alcohol productive?

acro5piano profile image Kay Gosho twitter logo github logo ・1 min read  

I personally like to code with alcohol, especially Vodka🍸. With alcohol, I feel like I could do everything at once, and do a lot of work (at least in my memory).

Many hackathons provide free alcohol, so I suppose we can improve our productivity in the short term.

How do you think?

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Absolutely obligatory XKCD

I think there is a certain lucidity that alcohol can offer, putting you in a good state to work fast and have fun while doing so. I've experienced a few times where we've cracked open a few beers towards the end of the day and really jammed on some things. But I think you'd lose any positive effects if you did it too often. I definitely think alcohol, like most drugs, is absolutely not something you want to be reliant on in any sense.

 

Thank you for the comment, Ben!

Absolutely obligatory XKCD

I did not know about the concept of Ballmer Peak! Thank you for sharing. Really interesting.

I think you'd lose any positive effects if you did it too often

I found an interesting article (ja) about Ballmer Peak. In the article, he compared his programming performance by solving programming tests between in sober and Ballmer Peak state. The conclusion is that not only there is almost no difference in his performance, but also he took a mistake in Ballmer Peak state.

I will continue to use alcohol to concentrate on working to some extent, but not rely on heavily alcohol following your recommendation. Instead, I will try to use alternative (like clubbing music) to concentrate. Thanks!

 
 
 

Anecdotally, I have really profound thoughts when I have enough alcohol. Evidence and friends suggest otherwise though. I also don't drink anymore since it doesn't seem to be all that useful to me.

On a more serious note, alcohol is a depressant, and I think it's hard to suggest that it will increase your productivity. I personally feel like I do my best work when I'm sober.

Not sure if you've worked in the US before, but it's fairly popular for startups to have alcohol readily available for employees. Personally, I think it's a bit strange since people (together) under the influence usually lead to regretful choices and behavior that you wouldn't want to see from your fellow coworkers.

 

"Depressant" has a specific meaning when you're talking about drugs. It's not about your mood (and the existence of many, many super happy drunks gives that the lie anyway) -- it's about central nervous system activity. And with a metric as broad as "productivity" in a discipline where you can't easily measure tons of coal mined or engines built, it's difficult to argue for any correlation beyond getting bombed being provably unhelpful.

I don't drink & code on the clock, outside the odd lunch beer with officemates, but it can be fun to work on side projects with a beverage sometimes. Something that tastes nice and loosens up your neurons a bit.

 

Thank you for sharing your opinion, Andy!

I have really profound thoughts when I have enough alcohol.

I agree, though my fingers move fast with alcohol as well as for simple work.

I think it's hard to suggest that it will increase your productivity. I personally feel like I do my best work when I'm sober.

I am curious to know more, what made you think so?
I feel working with drinking energize me, but in the long run, it will shorten my productivity because working is like not short-distance run but marathon for over 20 years.

behavior that you wouldn't want to see from your fellow coworkers

So interesting. I have seen many people changes their behavior with alcohol. I feel that funny, but some people regret what they did. I have never worked in the US but would like the real "strange" scene one day!

Thanks,

 

I am curious to know more, what made you think so?

Guess it's more of a feeling than a well-thought out thought. 🙃 I think the major things that work for me is getting a good sleep and eating well, and that attributes to my "best work" when I'm sober.

getting a good sleep and eating well

Exactly, this is my current the biggest task. Alcohol disturbs us to have good sleep, so coding with it everyday may cause low performance in the long run. Thanks!

 

I avoid alcohol for religious reasons--to be honest, I don't even know what it tastes like. So I can't say anything about how it would affect my productivity. Nonetheless, I've spent enough time around drinkers and at alcohol-centered events to know that it's not just about the central nervous system. The presence of alcohol at a tech event or workplace creates a particular atmosphere, and at times that atmosphere runs the risk of challenging or even excluding those who prefer not to drink.

What's problematic here isn't the mere presence of alcohol. I've never been annoyed that someone else was having a beer or cocktail. But when the people in charge assume that everyone drinks--and that's the case at most of the conferences I've attended--they fail to acknowledge the presence of recovering alcoholics, Mormons, Muslims, pregnant women, and other teetotallers, which makes us feel excluded. On my way into a tech conference after-party last year I said "no thank you" to some drink tokens and the person handing them out looked at me like I was from another planet.

It can also be uncomfortable to be around people who are buzzed or drunk. I guess the lowered inhibition seems normal to everyone else, but a few times I've been surprised and disappointed by a person's behavior when they were intoxicated. Of course, most people handle it really well, but it's too common for people to forget themselves and infringe on other people's boundaries when their BAC starts to rise.

I have nothing against casual/social drinkers. But would I be comfortable or productive in a workplace where the only available refreshment is beer and half my team is buzzed by mid-afternoon? Of course not. And I'd hate for "free beer" to be considered a perk or a benefit--it's a poor substitute for something I can actually enjoy, like higher compensation or a better health plan.

Anyway, I mean no offense to drinkers, but I hope if you're ever in charge of refreshments at work or at an event you'll consider the needs of non-drinkers.

Further reading:

 

Thank you for sharing your story, Isaac.

I like drinking so I have never thought so much about the risk we create the atmosphere excluding those who don't drink for specific reasons. Only drinkers receive the benefit of "free beer".

I checked out the links. According to

11.1% checked “No restrictions — I can eat anything”

we need consideration for those who do not eat pizza or drink alcohol.

Thanks!

 

First, I want to say I completely respect everyone's relationship with alcohol and I'm not judging anyone. If it makes you feel good, it's then good for you :)

This is very personal, but for my experience, productivity in the sense of "keeping making things on an efficient pace", it goes on the opposite direction of alcohol consumption. That's different than a one-time "cool down for a minute to change my state of mind" - which for me that is not really about productivity but just about getting prepared to start an activity with more attention.

So, "coding with alcohol" can mean many things, from this one-time thing to decompress, to keep drinking more and more drinks all the time while you are coding, which is precisely what I think that is not productive, since it eventually will make you less mindful and more distracted, so it will get incredibly hard to give your best in that situation.

I agree that alcohol is being useful at certain situations to help people to reduce stress and socialize, which removes barriers and improve social interaction, which is very useful at introductions and hackathons as an ice breaker.

However, I think that is not the only solution to this problem. There are other ways to get to the same result without resorting to alcohol (or anything else), but from participating in certain group activities (such as a team building exercise, group sports, round table discussion, group dynamics) and individual mindful activities (such as meditating, yoga, playing music, running, reading a book).

BTW, I recently came to realize the effects of the collective pressure on consuming alcohol at the tech industry of today. I would like to recommend this great podcast episode for those which would like to learn more about this:

dev.to/hanselminutes/alcohol-and-t...

 

Hi Tiago, Thank you for your comment!

When I wrote this question, I worked at my home. I think I couldn't concentrate in my work at home so I resorted to alcohol.
Now I moved to cafe near my home and am working there with Ice coffee, which is much healthy.

As you mentioned, alcohol distract us to code in the long run. However, I usually start to drink in the evening and writing code, as my work will be end soon.

And thank you for the podcast episode, I will check it!
In Japan I have never heard about the collective pressure, but some people could feel it.

 
 

I have coworkers who can't drink and work at all. Personally, I find 1-2 drinks has no effect on my work. I think at low enough levels it just depends on the person, but as you drink more you tend to overestimate the quality of your thoughts.

I agree with those who have pointed out that a boozy environment can alienate non-drinkers. As much as I enjoy a beer at the end of a shift, it's probably inappropriate on most teams. On your own, though, go for it if you want. Just be prepared to fix the code tomorrow if you have more than a couple. 🙂

 

Thanks for commenting, Brian!

as you drink more you tend to overestimate the quality of your thoughts.

Exactly, with alcohol I have confidence that I can finish the work. So if I could not finish, I tend to burn out.

Just be prepared to fix the code tomorrow if you have more than a couple.

Hahaha, I must have extra time to solve bugs after drinking! Thanks.

 

Anything that removes mental barriers has a potential to improve creativity, alcohol being one of those things.

Of course there's always the risk of believing that you need alcohol (or weed, or whatever) to unleash your creativity, which can itself be a mental barrier that may lead to dependence.

 

Thanks for commenting, Brian!

which can itself be a mental barrier that may lead to dependence.

Yeah I thought I had been depending on alcohol, so I posted this question. I am glad to hear that.
I will avoid to remove mental barriers by alcohol. Thanks again!

 

On occasion, I indulge in a beer or glass of wine while coding or learning to go. I feel that it helps me to relax and in a weird way, focus.

 

Thank you for the comment, Shannon!

I feel that it helps me to relax and in a weird way, focus.

I feel the same. I definitely "indulge" myself, so I will use alcohol to "focus" when I cannot have enough motivation to do the work.
I must not heavily rely on alcohol, but I can use it in the proper way.

 

We had a cocktail afternoon every Wednesday in a company I worked for, all my Thursdays was filled with bugfixing.

 

Hahaha! Interesting system.

Pleasure and bugfixing are sometimes trade-off.
I don't care if my Thursday were filled in exchange for the pleasure with alcohol, only if my boss or client wouldn't mind.

 
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