As most architecture students and practicing architects find out, all-nighters are (ironically) the stuff of nightmares. They’re a last resort when the project is due and you have run out times you can say “I’ll do that tomorrow.” All-nighters should be avoided at all costs as they can have many negative effects on your mind such as decreased concentration and reduced long-term memory. Even your body can suffer too; pushing yourself to the limit as you fight tiredness and work as much as physically possible will weaken your immune system and can cause circulatory problems from sitting down for 20 or so hours straight.
In a previous article, we have discussed the many ways in which you can avoid pulling an all-nighter so you don’t have to be as sleep deprived. But sometimes things just don’t go to plan, and you may feel that working through the night is the only option. Read on for tips and tricks that should make your all-nighter slightly more bearable (if that’s at all possible).
1. Walk Around
It is easy to find yourself mindlessly sat at your desk for ages, frantically putting together the last details of the project. Going on regular walks will not only get your body moving again but a change of scenery will clear your head hopefully increase your productivity.
2. Social Interaction
Keep yourself engaged by partaking in a conversation, even if it is asking someone nearby about the work or calling up close friends and family to catch up.
3. Write a List
Before the tiredness kicks in, take the opportunity to write down everything you need to do to the most painstaking detail. That way you have something to refer to when your brain is on autopilot at five in the morning.
4. Schedule Breaks
Break up your workload into manageable intervals, using the breaks as something to aim towards. The Pomodoro Technique uses 25-minute blocks with 5 minutes in between for more focused sessions.
5. Work with Friends
Working all night is a lot easier when you have others around you doing the same. If your friends or colleagues have the same deadline and plan on staying up too, then use each other for motivation. (Although bear in mind that pressuring friends into staying up if they don’t need to is a great way to lose friends.)
6. Eat Something
As you are awake for longer hours than usual, your body is burning more calories. Snacking on nutrient-rich foods such as fruit, vegetables, and protein that will give you the energy to continue rather than depending mainly on carbohydrates which are slow burning.
7. Avoid Social Media
This is easier said than done, but your brain is constantly taking in information while you scroll through Facebook or Instagram during your breaks. You need to give your mind a proper rest in this time and limiting time on social media will certainly help.
8. Splash Your Face with Water
Wake yourself up by splashing yourself with cold water and shocking your body. Not to mention the trip from the desk to the sink will give your mind a few seconds to rest.
9. Listen to Music
Put on your favorite songs to get you going and make the night as pleasant as possible.
10. Sleep in Advance
If you are aware that an all-nighter might be coming up then clock in as many hours of sleep you can before the big night.
11. Play a Game
When working into the night with friends or colleagues then a quick, fast-paced game such as snap can give you the adrenaline rush for you to go back to your work more motivated and focused.
12. No Big Meals
It is likely that if you eat a large, rich meal you will feel tired and sluggish afterward, not doing your productivity levels any favors. It is important, however, that you keep your body fueled with enough food to keep you going.
13. Drink Plenty of Water
Stay hydrated while you work, perhaps adding ice and lime if available for that extra zing.
14. Quick Exercise
Get the blood pumping through your body by jogging on the spot or doing some star jumps. A nice contrast to sitting down for hours on end.
It sounds contradictory, but when your mind is really lagging, a few hours of sleep can be a lot more efficient than wasting time slowly doing work to a lower standard than when you are feeling more alert.
Images for this article were kindly provided by Andrea Vasquez.
If you’re someone who would rather finish in time and get some sleep, learn how to prevent that all-nighter here.