If you decide to study a postgraduate degree, most of you will quickly come to realise that eventually you will have the joyful experience of spending the night in the library.
And I hope this isn’t due to being kicked out of your accomodation. Or, if you’re like me, you end up there in a very drunk state*
No in most cases you’ll be in a mad panic to get those final assignments completed. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are not enough hours in the day when it comes to assignments, though might just be due to my procrasination skills!
Personally I’ve always prefered the library at night. I’m lucky enough to have access to a 24 hour library and given how busy it gets during the day, especially with deadlines approaching, at night is often the only time I can get some peace and quiet.
Even the Quiet Room isn’t quiet with this craziness going on!
So I thought I’d treat you novices to my expert tips to surviving an alnighter and hopefully they’ll help you make it to sunrise:
Write a to do list. I enjoy breaking these down into priorities (say, the assignment which is due in the soonest down to that dreaded dissertation which might not be due in for another month).
- This carries on from number one, but I also break my time into slots.Typically I’ll dedicate an hour to 90 minutes to an essay before a. moving onto the next one or b. giving myself a break. If anything it helps the time go quicker and I get to make sure I attempt everything.
- Give yourself a break and log out of social media until those breaks. I guess these are really two tips but I read somewhere that it takes your mind 15 minutes to get back into academic mode after browsing Facebook (I have no idea if there was factually correct but it stuck with me) and I also find that once I’m on Facebook, two hours will pass and I’ve not even opened the essay!
- Bring snacks. This might seem obvious but an alnighter is typically going to last a good six hours or more, you will get hungry and this should not justify going home because if you’re anything like me, going home at 3am means you’ll go to bed.
- Keep moving. Like on an airoplane or in a cramped car, staying seated for long periods of time will destroy your spine and legs– I don’t mean literally but I’ve found myself incapable of walking after sitting at a computer for five hours! Take a wander, go and look for that book that you need, go to the vending machine.
- Reward yourself. Whether at the end of the night or at intervals, but it’ll help keep you motivated. I generally watch something on BBC Iplayer after I finish an essay because it takes my mind off that essay and gets me ready for the next one.
No, writing a status about being in the library does not count as work.
Of course, there’s plenty more I can say but everyone will have their own preferences. Ideally, you won’t be having to stress about an assignment which is due in at 2pm yet you’ve not started it by 9pm the night before– but it’s most likely that you will at one point.
My biggest problem is prioritising the ‘easy’ essays and finding myself under pressure when I realise that the more difficult ones are due in first.
There’s nothing appealing about being in a building with about four other people in and a security guard, never mind watching the motion-sensor lights switching off in other areas indicating that they’re empty and you’re alone.
But university students have suffered through alnighters for years before us and it’ll be a tradition which will carry on for many years after us.
You can do it!
(*in my defense I had a badly sprained ankle and there was no way I was capable of walking home).