I went to a ball last night. In classic Cambridge style, it started at 9pm and was due to finish at 5am. We arrived an hour early, did a photo shoot (it's on my Instagram story highlights if you want to see) and enjoyed the food, drink and festivities at the ball.
At around 1am, I started getting symptoms of gastroenteritis, and spent the next 30 minutes in a toilet with an ever-growing queue of black-tie dressed-up male students forming outside the cubicle. The symptoms didn't quite subside after the initial torrent, so I decided to call it a night and drive home.
This experience made me consider two things. Firstly, I thought briefly about the meaning of 'oversharing'. And secondly, I thought about The Law of Diminishing Returns.
For most things in life, value gained is almost never directly proportional to time/money invested. There always comes a point where more of the same thing provides less value than it used to.
There are so many examples of this - money vs happiness, time spent studying vs exam performance.
In my story, I’m glad I left the ball just after the halfway mark. The first 5 hours were really fun. But I’m pretty sure that as people got more inebriated and sleepy, the food started to run out, and the night got colder, things beyond that point would’ve been a lot less fun. If I hadn’t been ill, I would’ve stayed a bit longer to spend more time with my friends of course, but I don’t feel like I missed out on much for leaving a few hours before they did.
Thus, by leaving early, I was able to spend some quality time in the comfort of my own toilet, slept and woke up at a reasonable hour, and used the morning to edit some videos and write this email.
I like to have the Law of Diminishing Returns in the back of my mind when making decisions. There’s clearly a balance to be struck here. I’m not saying you should leave your best friend’s wedding halfway through because you’ve derived the maximum value per unit time. But when it comes to things like ‘should I have that 16th slice of pizza’ or 'should I stay until 3am at this party’ or other such things, I think it’s useful to keep in mind.
This post originally appeared as part of my weekly email newsletter. Click here to check out the previous issues and maybe subscribe :)