We’ve all been there. It’s Sunday afternoon and you have not started an assignment. An important assignment. An assignment that’s due in less than 24 hours. Fuck.
There’s some important things to acknowledge here if you’re going to jump this hurdle. First, you need to get this assignment done. If you take the late penalty you’re a quitter, and you lose worth on a moral level. Second, you probably have about 36 or so hours to finish this assignment. That’s a lot of time. Think about how much time it takes to complete the average assignment. Eight to ten hours maybe? You got this. Third, in order to make full use of that 36 hours you’re going to need to pull an all nighter. Lucky for you I’m something of a fledgling expert on all nighters and I have some choice advice to pass on to you, my fellow procrastinators. So whether you’re a haggard fourth year who’s just reading this as an excuse to not finish an essay that is due in less than 48 hours, or a naïve little frosh who thinks that they might actually die if they do more than 30 hours straight without any sleep, buckle up and get ready for Brendan Robson’s all nighter dos and don’ts.
Drink coffee. Preferably black. This is for three reasons. First you’re going to need caffeine to stay awake for this period of time. It’s just a fact. Maybe if you’re superman or something you can stay awake without taking some sort of stimulant, but don’t get cocky this early in the game. Second flavoured coffee and energy drinks are just empty calories for caffeine, and given the amount you’ll need to consume to pull this off the last thing you need in addition to sleep deprivation is a bunch of weight you have to lose. Third, black coffee tastes worse than flavoured coffee no matter how you slice it. The bitter taste of 6 cups of it will remind you that you are a garbage person who should start working on assignments sooner.
Accept responsibility. If you acknowledge that the only reason you’ve been forced into a position such that pulling an all nighter is necessary you will drive yourself insane and die in the process. It is imperative that you maintain a constant insistence that the only reason you have to put yourself through this hell is because the course/prof sucks. This mental hatefire will act as an additional stimulant and keep you alert and keen on finishing your assignment.
Take breaks. Let’s say you’re starting this thing at 4 PM, and you need it done by 5 PM tomorrow (this is totally not based on me personally by the way just saying). That is 25 hours, an actual metric fuckton of time. Let’s also say this paper is 2000 words. Even if you write at a snail’s pace of 250 words/hour that’s only eight hours of writing leaving you 17 hours to research, edit, and contemplate why you do this to yourself. Don’t be afraid to throw a few breaks in there so that you don’t write the assignment quite like you have a BAC of 0.1 even though the sleep deprivation will have that effect on you.
Go to the gym. This one’s personal experience. Sometimes you finish your essay at 5:30 AM and think “hey might as well go to the gym at 6 while I’m awake”. Don’t do it. Go the hell to sleep if you can’t and do literally anything else if you can’t. If you go to the gym on no sleep with only black coffee in your stomach there is no outcome possible that is good for you or anyone around you.