The Sparkle Guide to Pulling an All-Nighter

03Nov08

Image by patpompak

Image by patpompak

Throughout my many years studying, I have been consistent about one thing: I am a terrible procrastinator. If there’s one think I learned at university, it was how to pull an all-nighter and still hand in a reasonable essay in the morning. So, with the first few days of NaNoWriMo over, and recalling last year when I spent the final few days of November mashing the keys of my laptop at a rate of knots, I thought now was a good time for my top ten tips on how to stay awake all night productively!

  1. Try not to drink coffee until you absolutely need it, once you start drinking it, you’ll need to keep on drinking it in order not to crash, and too much caffeine can be terribly counter-productive.
  2. Replace the sugary snacks with slow energy-release food and fresh fruit – wholemeal bread, salads, yogurt, food that will keep you going without the initial sugar rush followed by the crash.
  3. Having said that, a few chocolaty treats as rewards when you get to a certain number of words, or have made notes on a particular chapter, will give you something to work towards and look forward to (as long as you can resist them until you’ve done the work!)
  4. Whatever you do, don’t lie down / rest your head on your desk or close your eyes, you will fall asleep.
  5. Keep the room a couple of degrees below comfortable temperature, if you can bear it. A warm room will only make you want to curl up and sleep more.
  6. When you feel yourself starting to flag, get up, take a wander around the house or do a few star-jumps, the adrenaline will keep you going a little longer.
  7. Take these breaks at regular intervals, to stop yourself from going onto auto-pilot and typing rubbish or getting to that stage where you realise you’ve just read 20 pages and you can’t remember any of it!
  8. If you really have to nap, make sure it’s just a short power nap lasting no longer than half an hour. It will re-energise you but any longer can have a detrimental effect.
  9. When it comes to the morning and you have to hand the work in, make yourself a flask of coffee and go early. Hand it in before sleeping, then you can rest for as long as you like afterwards, as opposed to getting fitful sleep because you’re worried about missing the deadline.
  10. Music! If you can concentrate with noise, use music to keep you awake (obviously with headphones if it’s really late!) I find electronic music the best for this – a bit of EBM or trance as background music actually helps me concentrate.

I have far too much on to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but I wish all of you that are the best of luck, and I look forward to hearing of your successes!

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11 Responses to “The Sparkle Guide to Pulling an All-Nighter”

  1. Thank you for this post, I’m sure I will be referring back to it at the end of November!

  2. Loved the tips, Vixel 🙂

  3. OMG! That was SO PAINFUL to read!! Reading about it just brought all those memories back… I’ve done all nighters TOO many times!! ahhh just one more coffee!! yuck! LOL… Great article Vixel… So are u entering in NaNoWriMo? How exciting!! I won’t be… But Good Luck! 😉

  4. Oh sorry just reread your last sentence… you WONT be entering this year! Sorry… me either… maybe another year!

  5. Oh that I had read this last year! I am such an old lady I’d get all “F*ck it, it’s 11. I’m going to bed” and then get up at 5 a.m. to work on my paper. Worked for me!

  6. Heheh, this post is so made for me. I am the worst procrastinator, and incapable of keeping normal hours even when I don’t have a ton of homework to do. Nice tips!

  7. great tips! I can’t do the music one though – I find it incredibly difficult to concentrate while music is playing. I can’t even read properly if I’m listening to music at the same time.

  8. oh… the horrible memories. i could never pull off an all-nighter. all i think about are my heavy heavy eyelids after 1 a.m.

  9. I didn’t always manage all night either, sometimes I gave up and went to sleep too!

  10. 10 Victoire

    I am trying to avoid all-nighters, but there are time when a girl has to do what a girl has to do, and I am sure that your tips will come in handy then! Thanks!

  11. Great tips! I use to pull all nighters when i was in school too and I hated it. I was dragging the next day but even as bad as I felt, I would never study on time. I still procrastinate to this day.

    Something that helped was taking a break and putting on two or three songs that I could just dance and sing along with. It woke me up for sure and put me in a better mood.


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