I got some really bad advice when I entered college, it was basically “get ready for all nighters and never getting enough sleep” and I blindly took that advice and lived to regret it my first few semesters.
I was working full time and had the maximum credit hours so I just assumed that the advice was right that all nighters were the way to go but after a particularly rough week of all nighters and useless “power naps” I realized there has GOT to be a way to avoid these all nighters without it impacting my grades.
And it is totally POSSIBLE. After about half way through my sophmore year I never pulled an all nighter again. There isn’t a black and white formula for avoiding all nighters but there are definitely steps you can take that will help.
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Plan out your weekly academics
My first biggest tip to avoid doing an all nighter ever again is to plan out your academic week well enough that you don’t even need to consider pulling an all nighter. I know I say this ALL THE TIME but go out and buy a planner and then use it!! At the beginning of the semester use your syllabus to write out all the due dates for projects and papers and the dates of all quizzes and tests.
Then each week (Sunday is usually the best day for this) plan out how you are going to accomplish things and make sure to look far enough in advance that you can start studying for future tests or writing future papers. If you never get behind then you don’t have to play catch up.
** here are 3 of my favorite planners… seriously guys I don’t care what planner you use just get one and please use it!
Create 365 ; The Classic Happy Planner ; Bloom Where You are Planted ; Homestead ; 18 Months Dated (July 2019-December 2020)
This sounds so obvious but don’t lie to me— you are totally procrastinating on doing something right now. So pushing back your paper to the last minute or studying for 8am exam the night before is not doing you any long-term favors. As much as that 10 page paper might seem daunting 1 month away, imagine how scary it will seem the night before if you haven’t started it yet!!
Procrastinating only hurts you, so set yourself up for success and complete assignments more than an hour before they are due and start studying for exams as soon as you learn the material so you can build on the knowledge rather than cramming it all in.
Put away your phone
Just put it in your backpack and don’t look at it. For more on minimizing distractions then check out my article all about making your environment ideal for getting work done and even information on an app that you can use to keep you off your phone if you lack the self control on your own (don’t feel guilty we have all been there) to keep off your phone: How to Minimize Distractions.
But really, staying off your phone will help you get more work done while you are studying/doing homework and will help you avoid having to stay up all night because you lost 2 hours of your studying time down a buzzfeed hole. (again we have all been there!).
Set hard start and finish times
Saying that you are going to study “later this afternoon” sets you up for not starting at a reasonable time and also not finishing at a reasonable time. So set the hours you are going to spend doing school work including the start and end times. It sounds a little weird to say that a firm end time is just as important but it seriously is because as important as school and getting good grades is… it’s just as important to stay healthy and sane and getting enough sleep is so important for that.
Setting hard start times also keeps your time in your own control. It ensures that you start with enough time to not have to do an all nighter but it also ensures that you are able to accomplish non academic tasks before you start studying.
Form a regular sleep schedule
This directly ties into the hard finish times from right above. Making sure that you stop doing school work at an appropriate time to go to bed can significantly improve your physical and mental health. And it will help you be more productive during the day because you are less tired which creates a domino effect.
More sleep –> increased productivity –> lower chance of all nighter being necessary.
Have all of your supplies and notes with you
Set yourself up for success.
Bring all of your notes, textbooks, and any lecture materials with you to your study sessions. Don’t loose time to not having materials with you that you need. Also make sure you have all the necessary supplies including notebooks, pens, highlighters, post it notes, etc. Looking for something you need or trying to get by without something that would help can delay your study session or decrease your efficiency can lead to an unnecessary all nighter.
To make this a more efficient step make sure that you have a good quality backpack that can hold everything and won’t hurt your back when you are carrying it around campus. Spend a little bit more on a decent quality backpack and you will not regret it!
Take breaks, but keep them short
You are absolutely going to go insane studying all day Saturday from 8am – 6pm without a break. Just make sure that you don’t fall into a “I’ll just take a quick break” trap that turns into 3 hours. Schedule how long it will take (obviously schedule more for food breaks) and stick to that length.
Have you ever pulled an all nighter? How often? Do you think any of these tips could help you not have to do one again? Let me know, please!