Tuesday, July 31, 2012

All-Nighter Made Easy

As designers and architects, something integral to the school experience is the all-nighter. We wear the grogginess, dark circles, and the hours we've spent working as badges of honor among our peers and those of other majors. The night is spent eating snacks, sodas, and trips to Taco Bell or 7-Eleven. At the end of the day/morning we compare notes on how much sleep we actually managed to get.

But anyone can see that this lifestyle is far from healthy, causing us to barely be functional for the rest of the morning classes and possibly missing our afternoon class trying to reclaim the lost hours. Hunger pangs cause us to lose time, walking to the Chinese restaurant or taking a trip to Walmart, and even more precious, money. We are coming out the losers academically, nutritionally, financially, and medically. Sleep deprivation has been linked to obesity, psychosis, bipolar disorders, impairment of abilities, attentiveness, and memory.

So what can we do about it? The work isn't going to do itself, and we all know that getting something done is better than coming in empty handed. The best things that can be done are to try to eat healthier foods, stay focused, and most important, not fall asleep. I have searched the interweb to bring you a compilation of the best tips for a successful all-nighter.

  • The number one tip I have as far as food is to plan in advance! Save yourself a midnight trip to Walmart or 7-Eleven. We are all vulnerable to impulse buys, and we are probably extra weak when we've been up 19 hours straight. You also waste productive work time, driving to the store, shopping, and unloading the bags afterward. To simplify the process, buy in advance and keep your desk stocked for when the cravings hit. 
  • Drink alooot of water. The brain is 70% water and you're going to need every grey cell for doing your project and the review afterward. There are two approaches for this; keep a water bottle at your desk at all times, or buy bottled water at the store. I know buying bottled is bad for the environment, but not everyone is comfortable drinking from school water fountains. Stay hydrated, whichever approach you take. Water is great for quenching thirst and prevents the sugar crashes that can come from drinking sugary beverages.
  • Ordering out is an option, but keep in mind that most restaurants close from 9pm to 11pm, so don't be disappointed when you realize that Dominoes won't deliver at 1 am. Also, keep in mind that others will smell the food, and want a piece. If you don't mind sharing, that's cool, just make sure there's enough left over for yourself. 
Staying Focused
  • Clear away all distractions! Close the YouTube page, clean your desk, and kick out your friends. Distractions are to projects what nuclear bombs are to everything. At the end of the day, you will be counting the hours that you wasted in your head, and imagining how that 30 minutes on Facebook could have been used to help you reach your deadline more quickly. 
  • Blocker programs can block you out of specific sites to make sure you stay focused on your work. Some programs can lock you out of the internet completely. 
  • Lists are your friends. They let you know what you have accomplished, and what you need to finish. Tasks seem less daunting once you beak them down into their parts and you can feel a sense of accomplishment with each finished task that can help you keep going throughout the night. 
Staying Awake
  • Don't sleep. Don't do it. It is the worst mistake you can ever make. Unless you go to sleep at 7pm and intend to wake up at 6am, you will not wake up on-time without setting 5 alarms. Do not go to sleep at 2am expecting to wake up at 7am to finish your project. Your body does not work that way. 
  • Make an energizing playlist on your iPod. Search your music library and find the most exciting music possible, or just pick your favorites that you know you will sing along to as soon as you hear them. In some studios, headphones are required, but if you are in studio by yourself, for the most part, nobody will mind if you play it loud. However, in the library, headphones are a must at all times. 
I hope these tips have helped you out. Let me know in the comments your stay awake tricks!

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