How To Avoid an All-Nighter
When a deadline approaches, there seems to be nothing better than re-watching the entire first season of The O.C. or visiting every bar near campus. And, surprisingly, the closer it gets to our exams, the more enjoyment we seem to get out of these activities. Unfortunately, these procrastination activities can have horrible consequences. Here are some of the ways I avoid the dreaded “all-nighter” and make my schoolwork a bit more manageable.
1. Plan out everything
Yes, it is time for you to find the planner that’s been gathering dust ever since you bought it in the beginning of the semester. I use my planner to schedule studying, exams, and tasks like re-reading chapters, typing up lecture notes, or compiling study guides. Don’t get too ambitious – the biggest mistake I find myself making is overloading my tasks into one day. Be realistic. I definitely will not read 12 chapters, make a study guide, and write a research paper in one day. By creating a schedule that is feasible, when I am done with the tasks for the day, I have time to relax and recharge.
2. Use Self Control
Mac users, you must download Self Control. I use it religiously. You can add websites to a “blacklist” and set a time limit. For that time, you will not be able to access any of the websites. Period. For those Facebook and Twitter addicts out there, this is the app for you.
3. Leave your distractions
My biggest distractions come from what is around me. Studying with my friends or sitting in a noisy cafe does everything but help me study. Although it is nice to have company, it is also the easiest way to get you off schedule. Seclude yourself in a quiet area in the library or lock yourself in your room. Wherever you go, make sure you don’t bring any distractions with you. But this is not to say that you need to become a hermit and ignore all communication. Compromise. Meet your friends for dinner or take an exercise class with your roommates. As long as you don’t make it a three hour dinner date, it’s okay to socialize!
4. Take breaks
I have seen too many red-eyed, zombie-like students crawl out of the library from their third all-nighter in a row. I know from first hand experience, that productivity quickly dwindles the less free time I give myself. I make sure to divide my time up so I can take breaks every couple of hours. I go to the gym, take a walk, get ice cream, bake cookies, take a nap…whatever I do, I do it often enough to regain my sanity. It is definitely easy for me to fall into the trap of working until I can’t. But the quality of my work is significantly compromised. I find that a fresh mind lets me produce the best work.