Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Art of Pulling an All-Nighter

Let me just start off by saying that I don't recommend missing sleep to meet a deadline. You should plan your schedule accordingly to avoid all-nighters at all costs. That said, I stayed up all night to finish a client's project recently. It's been several months since I've had to do this, but I've been positively slammed with work and sick children. In the end there was no other choice. I could have avoided it had I correctly estimated the time it would take me to complete a client's project. But since I abhor missing deadlines (which I translate to mean breaking my word), I made a choice and sacrificed my precious sleep instead. I'm always fearful of screwing with my sleep patterns because I can easily trip the old insomnia switch.

If you happen to be a new freelance writer learning to estimate the time it takes to finish projects, you could find yourself pulling an all-nighter to meet a deadline at some point. I hope I'm wrong, but if you are ever in that situation, here are a few tips to help get you through the night:

Prepare yourself mentally

That's half the battle won. If you prepare your mind for the fact that you will not be sleeping anytime soon it's a lot easier to manage.

Have a plan

If you don't have a plan, exhaustion could tempt you to just give up and go to bed. Execute a plan for how much writing you will do, when you'll take breaks to stand up and move around and make fresh pots of coffee. Which brings me to my next tip…

Drink lots of coffee

Enough said.

Take frequent bathroom breaks

Enough said.

Give your brain and body a break

Stand up periodically, stretch and move around. I worked all night in a desk chair that is the complete opposite of ergonomic comfort. I need a deep tissue massage in the worst way. But I digress…

Don't crank up the heat

You might wake up on deadline day with keyboard prints across your forehead and an incomplete project.

Vow never to pull another all-nighter again

Repeat it like a mantra throughout the night. By convincing yourself that you'll never have to do it again, you'll be even more determined to finish the work.

If you have ever had the displeasure of pulling an all-nighter to meet a deadline, or have somehow managed to avoid them, please share your tips and advice.


Shelly said...

Thank you! I wish I would have read this on Wed. when you posted it, but oh well. So tonight will be my all nighter. Last night I allowed myself to get too comfortable before I made the coffee. So I was asleep before I could make it. I don't like doing them but I have had at least one sick kid for the last three weeks.

Kimberly Ben said...

Thanks for your comment, shelly. I sure hope this information helps!:-)

Lori said...

Sometimes, they just put your back to the wall and you have to deliver. Honestly, I've gotten to the point that if it's my mistake or my bad planning, I make the sacrifice. If it's theirs - it'll cost them.

Hope the kids are feeling better, Kim!

Kimberly Ben said...

Thanks, Lori. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who has dealt with this.

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