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How to Pull a Successful All Nighter

How to Pull a Successful All Nighter
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Knowing how to pull a successful all nighter is critical for everyone.  From college students, to new employees, to entreprenuers trying to land their first big break, everyone needs to know how to stay up late to get the job done– without crashing and burning.  Because let’s be honest, a bad all nighter is like old milk– something you never want to taste again.

1. Take a nap first.

Put a little gas in your “sleep tank” by getting a few zzz’s before you get to work.  By taking a nap,  you will feel more rested and more ready to power through the night.  Just make sure you set an alarm!

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2.  Eat protein.

Don’t make the rookie mistake of chowing down on carbs before an all nighter.  Carbs will give you a burst of energy, then leave you feeling wiped out.  Instead, eat protein to keep your energy levels stable all night long.

3.  Exercise.

Want a quick shot of go-juice?  Do a little exercise. It doesn’t have to be anything long or drawn out, but even a few jumping jacks can get your blood pumping again.

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4. Caffeine.

This is my favorite.  I load myself up with caffeine before most people even think about getting their first cup of coffee.  If you want to get through a whole night of work, don’t be afraid to find your favorite source.  Some of my friends swear by energy drinks, but I prefer a pot of the black stuff.

5. Stay in a stimulating space.

Have you ever been to a casino?  There’s tons of lights, noise, and people around to keep you alert.  Next time you’re thinking about pulling an all nighter, find a similar place.  The more lights and talking around you, the easier it will be to stay awake.

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6. Get some fresh air.

This is another casino trick.  Casinos pump oxygen into the building to keep people gambling longer.  You simulate this experience by getting a fan of finding somewhere where the air feels fresh.

7. Make sure your project is important

Before you start your all night work session, review the reasons you need to do it.  Make sure you have an important reason: a deadline, a project you’re passionate about, or a limited time to complete your work.  If you’re trying to accomplish a boring project by staying up all night, chances are you’re going to fall asleep before the clock strikes midnight.  However, if you’re pumped about your project and you need to get it done TONIGHT, you’ll have better luck getting the work done.

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8. Get a partner.

The easiest way to make sure you are successful is to find a friend who also needs to pull an all nighter.  Their encouragement will help you power through the tough late night hours.  Just make sure they don’t distract you from what you need to get done.

9. Set some alarms.

If you’re worried about falling asleep before you get your work done, set an alarm– or ten.  An alarm every hour– on the hour –will help you keep you awake and help you keep track of time.

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10. Make a to do list.

Working all night can help you get stuff done; however, as your brain power diminishes due to exhaustion, it’s tough to stay on track with what you need to accomplish.  Make a to do list BEFORE you start your all nighter.  This will keep you focused on exactly what needs to get done.  Make  your to do list as detailed as possible so you will lots of stuff to cross off. This will help you stay motivated in the middle of the night.

Featured photo credit: Insomnia/Carlos Martz via flickr.com

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Kelsie Fannon

Kelsie is a journalist and writer who shares about productivity and money tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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