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Having done the dreaded all nighter many times, I figured this would be a good moment to talk about how to deal with them.  They're incredibly difficult, but here are some tips I learned along the way.  Also I covered this earlier for some more in-depth ideas.  It's sort of neat to see the comparison of what I thought and did then versus practice now.
  • TAKE BREAKS.  I've been clocking myself pretty regularly and checking my time spent.  In the 12 hours I was awake one day, 10 were spent actually animating and the other two on food + breaks.  My favorite rule comes from GTD and all that madness: 50+5+5.  50 minutes of work, 5 minutes of distraction (get out of your chair!) and 5 minutes of review.  See what you've done, what you can do better.  It helps.
  • With that, time management.  I don't surf the web.  Or iChat, or any of that while working.  I will have Skype on with some colleagues to run ideas by them (since I'm working from home) but aside from that, just focus.  My girlfriend, studying to be a vet, watched her time spent on the phone talking with friends, going to eat out, and other distractions in the week and found how much time she was really losing.  It's not a waste.  You SHOULD take breaks.  But in the 14-16 hour days she is awake, she would sometimes average less than half of that per week studying.  Thus really at a disadvantage (long days + not enough sleep + not enough getting done = madness)  During testing week, that all goes away
  • Drink water.  A lot.  I like it because it forces me to getup to refill, it keeps me hydrated, and for the most part I don't suffer headaches because of it.  Plus, who can deny the awesomeness of water time?  Personally I've experimented with coffees, teas, energy drinks.  I can't afford the crash the next day.  I need to grab 4-5 hours and wake up again and hit the work hard without feeling any sort of crash.  So I opt for just water.  Tea does work well too.
  • I'm not a health expert, but I know stretching, getting some good nutrition, things like that keep me going.  I've known guys who will sit for hours on end and not get up, but for me, I get an itching feeling 45 minutes into sitting, I need to stand up and stretch.  I mix that with bananas or granola bars and you're set!  At work we used to have a stash of this stuff. BE PREPARED!
  • No heavy foods.  They take too long to digest and make you lethargic
  • Know your circadian rhythm.  Everyone wants a nap at 2 pm.  Take it.  I do.  Naps help me power through the rest of the day and night.
  • MUSIC keeps the flow going if you're doing it alone.  People are better, you can bounce ideas off each other, get loony at 4 in the morning,, but for the most part, keeping something in the background sort of helps your brain anchor itself rather than drifting into thoughts.
Hopefully these help.  With that, I must say adieu and back to work!

Comments

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corona
Jul. 19th, 2010 11:45 am (UTC)
Thank you!!
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