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How to Fake It Till You Make It While Running On No Sleep

How to Fake It Till You Make It While Running On No Sleep

Deadlines have a way of ganging up on you. For those times when you’re faced with multiple due dates in the same week and feel no sleep is the only answer, here are some top tips to get through with your sanity and relationships intact.

Before: Prepare

1. Recruit your support team.

Or at the very least, warn those at home! The people you live with are the ones who will be seeing less of you, picking up the slack on the jobs you normally do and putting up with your sleep-deprived mood-swings. If you can, give them a start and finish date so that they know for how long life will be weird. Plan a special catch up treat for all of you on the other side. Help them understand why meeting these deadlines will not only be good for you, but for them too.

2. Postpone and plan.

Put off anything that is not essential until after you’ve met the crunch. Make a list of all the things you won’t be getting to and keep it in a safe place. This is an important step! Use this time to get to know your natural rhythms. What time of day are you most productive? When does your energy lag? Pay close attention, and learn the patterns so that you can make the most of them while clobbering your deadlines.

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3. Organize your environment.

Now is a good time to throw out unnecessary clutter, tidy your desk drawers, and pack away anything that you won’t need. A cluttered work area can be overwhelming when you are tired, but keeping your space tidy during your deadline crunch will help your mind to feel ordered and function more efficiently.

It is a proven fact that our brains don’t operate at 100% when we haven’t had sufficient sleep, but there are ways to work around this. Build in backup plans. An easy example is to have a specific place to always hang your car keys. This will save you hours of frustrated searching when your fuzzy brain can’t quite remember. If you are normally a messy person, train yourself to live tidily. It may seem like a small thing, but the point is to make your life as simple as possible while you focus on your deadlines. Living tidily means being able to find your stuff without spending precious working time hunting through piles of clutter.

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    During: Persevere

    A single all-nighter is a sprint, but an extended period of sleep-deprivation is a marathon and needs to be handled differently. Pace yourself, listen to your body, and split up your work into smaller, manageable sections. You will achieve more in short, focused sessions, with breaks in between, than longer sessions that cause you to fall asleep sitting up, drooling on your keyboard. Pay attention to the following.

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    1. Refuel your body.

    Just as your car won’t run on water, your body needs proper fuel. Avoid junk food: chips, sweets, and energy drinks. Instead, opt for healthy options: seeds & nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables, and healthy, light, regular meals. Choose water over fizzy drinks.

    2. No sleep; take naps instead.

    If you can’t afford a full night’s sleep, never underestimate the power of the humble nap. Your productivity will suffer if you keep working for too long without any sleep at all. If you struggle to wake up afterwards, take a quick shower, walk outside in the fresh air, and splash your face with some water; you’ll soon get to know what works best for you.

    3. Get up and move.

    Stretch to de-tangle your muscles and ease stiffness from sitting in the same position for hours. Get your heart rate up by running in place, skipping or doing jumping jacks. This gets the blood flowing to deliver fresh oxygen to your whole body and mind. If it makes you feel daft, don’t worry—we all feel silly leaping around by ourselves at three in the morning. Ignore your ego; your body will love you for it, and it will bring you closer to conquering your deadlines.

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    4. Include motivators.

    What makes your brain buzz? Play music that gets your feet tapping, or let your favorite tv show run in the background. If that is too distracting, line up the (healthy!) rewards at the end of each section. Find those things that switch you on and shamelessly bribe yourself.

    5. Avoid driving.

    Any pill that makes you drowsy comes with a warning for you not to drive or operate dangerous machinery while you are under the influence of that medication. Deadline crunching on no sleep can be just as lethal. Organize a carpool, or take the bus or a train. You might even be able to sneak in some zs while travelling—bliss!

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      After: Recover

      1. Take time off.

      Schedule time off to find yourself again. Get some decent sleep, and reward yourself for your hard work. Give your brain time to recuperate. Don’t be shocked if you find yourself feeling completely demotivated, directionless or even slightly depressed. Be gentle on yourself as you recover; give yourself plenty space to regroup and recharge. Beating yourself up will only delay your recovery. It won’t take long to find your groove again.

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      2. Prioritize time with loved ones.

      Make reconnecting with your support crew your chief priority. Spend time catching up on all the tiny details that you may have missed. Give them your focused attention. Turn off your cell phone, and leave the laptop shut. Go for long walks, cook meals together, do all the things that you said no to while meeting your deadlines.

      3. Take out your “postponed” list.

      With a brain that is still in recovery, you will be grateful that you made a list of all the things that you postponed. By now, some of them will need your attention. As you feel up to it, find your list and work your way through it one item at a time. Having a list in hand will help you get out of the post-deadline-slump in small, easy steps.

      Does your family still love you? Did you meet your deadlines? Congratulations! You successfully faked it til you made it while running on no sleep!

      Featured photo credit: IMG_5944 by Oleander via mrg.bz

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      Last Updated on April 19, 2021

      The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

      The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

      Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

      The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

      Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

      In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

      When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

      Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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      1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

      When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

      As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

      That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

      The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

      What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

      Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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      There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

      So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

      2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

      When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

      No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

      3. Move Your Body

      A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

      It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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      So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

      4. Connect With Another Person

      Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

      One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

      Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

      5. Use Your Imagination

      When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

      That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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      And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

      Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

      Final Thoughts

      Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

      Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

      More on the Importance of Taking a Break

      Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

      Reference

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