The all-nighter has been a rite of passage for generations of college and university students. As you may already know, an all-nighter contains the following elements:
If you find yourself in this bind here are some quick tips that may help you get the most out of your efforts.
Gather all of your materials into one place. There is nothing quite as frustrating as losing your train of thought and getting off schedule (e.g. in a vain attempt to locate something, like a calculator) in the middle of the night.
Read your assignments, objectives and/or notes from the instructor prior to doing anything else. You should have a clear understanding of what you need to accomplish.
Set a schedule for yourself. Quickly map out exactly what you are going to do and when. Break down your assignment and/or objectives into manageable blocks of time with small but frequent breaks built in. This will allow you to:
Once you have a schedule in place, stick to it. Turn off all electronic distractions. Eliminate distractions wherever possible, including the cell phone, Blackberry, television, instant chat or messenger, etc.
Pay attention to your atmosphere. Avoid dark, warm, quiet spots that lull you to sleep. Try studying in a well lit room with a cool temperature. You may also add some light, upbeat music in the background.
Keep the volume adjusted so that it is audible and will keep you alert, but not loud enough to distract you into singing along.
Watch what you eat and drink. Avoid sugary foods which have a tendency to spike your energy level, then give you a drop a short time later. Sugar can intensify the effects of fatigue, so consider eating healthy snacks such as fruits or vegetables.
Avoid caffeine as long as possible. Should you choose to drink coffee, do so at a moderate pace. You want to drink enough to maintain your level of being comfortably alert, while not drinking so much as to become wired.
Tip: If you do not usually consume caffeine, avoid it altogether.
Be sure to eat a meal. Because you are denying your body rest, your body will demand more energy than normal, causing you to become hungry. Going hungry can affect your concentration, so try a light meal at some point in the night. Be sure to avoid heavy foods like pasta or pizza.
Take notes as you study. When taking notes, try to use a dedicated notebook and format your writing in a manner that can be easily referenced later. Be sure to list your sources and page numbers with your notes so that you can quickly look up additional information when necessary.
There are limitations to pulling an all-nighter. One of these limitations is your ability to retain information effectively. Thorough, coherent notes can offset this undesirable side effect and help you recall the objectives or key points in the assignment.
If you hit a wall and are simply unable to concentrate, try these quick tips to get back into the game.
You may want to give up, but remember that you can do this, you need to do this, and thousands upon thousands of
Aldureaux Le'Paumer has been a Federal Law Enforcement supervisor for the last five years working primarily in security and police operations. He earned a Bachelor of Science online from Southwestern College in Winfield, KS and a Master of Business Administration online from Ashford University in Clinton, IA.