Rising like a phoenix from the all-nighter.
A veteran’s guide to escaping the wreckage that is your homework.
Trapped in the gauntlet of my 5th year here (averaging three all-nighters every semester), I can confirm that post-secondary education is simply a race between productivity and full-body-shutdown. Indeed, as each of you frantically scan your schedules, a single question pervades the hive mind of the campus: “What the cuss! How am I going to do all this?”
Note: If you aren’t frantically scanning your schedule you are either brilliant or hooped; either way, there’s no point in reading any further.
As for the rest of you folks, with a dark forest of finals ahead you’ve only got one shot at this. Stick to the path below and you could make it to the other side, perhaps even alive.
11:00am - THE VILLAIN, REVEALED
Let me begin with a story. Kylie is a 2nd year Nursing major—bubbly, intelligent, an ambitious student with a heart for God. But Kylie likes to do homework late at night. Tonight, as she sits at her desk diligently working in her bedroom, she hears the soft padding of feet behind her. She glances around and sees only the clock on her bedside table: 1:30am.
Her gut twists as she hears the feet move closer, pad, pad, pad. An iron-strong set of fingers burrow into her shoulder and in her ear—in her heart—she hears the emptiness of the night beckon, “End it all. Right here. Give in. Life’s not worth it.” Unable to stop herself, she puts down her pen, closes her laptop…and climbs into bed. Yet another unsuspecting student falls victim to the All-Nighter.
If you want to win, you need to decide the afternoon before, even the day before, to confront this predator head-on. Throughout the day repeat to yourself out loud, “I will confront the All-Nighter tonight.” If anyone looks at you funny or tells you to chill, take a silent pleasure in assuming that their name will be added to the list, right underneath poor Kylie’s.
1:30pm - CALM BEFORE THE STORM
Stop working! I know, I know, “Isn’t this a race? Don’t I need to work as hard and fast as possible?” No! You’ll have a minimum of 12 hours tonight to start and finish your assignment. But you’ve been in class all day, your body can’t sustain an academic marathon after having just worked out. Simply look at your assignment and then put it away; let the topic gestate in your mental womb while you now take a break—watch TV, hang out, sleep. Y’know that war movie where the husband and wife spend one last moment of “pleasure” together before he goes off to battle? This is that moment. But keep it PG folks; you’ll need to save your strength.
7:00pm - CUSS GETS REAL
You’ve just eaten dinner, all your friends have gone home, now is the time to switch into “Gollum Mode”: slink into something comfortable and hide yourself in a secluded space. Keep the lights dark so you’re eyes are forcibly drawn to the light of your screen, and pour your thoughts onto the keyboard. Stumped? Take a shower. The warm water echoing against the tile creates a make-shift sensory deprivation chamber. Without external stimuli, your brain kicks into overdrive to entertain itself and BOOM— inspiration. I owe dozens of my theses to a good shower.
1:00am- DESPERATE TIMES CALL FOR DENNY’S
Great power lies in the greasy diner fare, witty waitress quips, and too- 90’s-to-be-retro décor of our beloved second home. As your body winds down to sleep you need to trick it straight into morning mode: change into your tightest jeans to push the blood up to your head and order yourself a big ol’ plate of motivation.
3:00am- KICK VILLAIN IN BALLS
This is the crux; it’s supposed to hurt. Your eyes are open but you can’t see? Your head is full of acid? Your fingers won’t bend? These next few hours are the difference between a late night and an all-nighter—between a C+ and an A-. Let me tell you, coffee, energy drinks, ginseng voodoo tea, none of these things can save you now. There is only one fuel strong enough to push you past the subtle strangle of fatigue: anger. This paper wants you to fail. How dare it! Chan nel your disgust, your contempt, your rage—pour it all into this final push. This isn’t about grades; this is about your dignity. Cuss that cussing paper to its completion.
6:00am- RIDE OFF INTO THE SUNSET
If you’ve made it to this point, congratulations, you don’t need me anymore! The early birds chirp your praise, the sun spotlights your glory, the crisp air kisses your cheeks in moist, ruddy victory—assuming you managed to actually complete your assignment. Take a victory lap in the shower and put on some unsoiled comfortable clothes (I prefer a nice pair of black tights myself ). Warning: I’ve recently discovered that it’s possible to vomit from sheer exhaustion; get that stuff done before you break out the body wash. Slam back a Venti like it’s Friday night downtown, set your walking speed to “brisk,” and toss that cussing paper into the class with pride. And may the profs be ever in your favour.