The Pesky All-Nighter

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Architecture School

I’ve done a few all-nighters in my studies so far, and there usually that sinking feeling around 12am when you suddenly realise you probably won’t be sleeping tonight. I’ve also done late-nighters (up until 3-4am then slept for 3-4 hours) and I’ve done intended-nighters where you intend to be up all night but develop a strategy of ‘I’ll nap for a couple hours at 1am to keep me going’ only to awake at 8am. I think back at the end of the semester and I realise that the all-nighters I did could have been avoided….Why do I do all-nighters? I try to tell myself I work better at night with the thought of everyone else is asleep, I can concentrate. I tell myself distractions are minimised and I can be productive. In reality that’s just an excuse, the real reason why I am plagued with all-nighters is due to poor time management.

I try to tell myself the workload is too much, or that I need to keep designing or I needed to wait for a red moon but it just boils down to not organising myself. First semester we had an essay to write, mine was about Louis Khan and monumentality architecture, and the night before it was due I was up writing it. Now, I knew I had that essay topic for a good 6-7 weeks, yet I wait until the night before to write it, an all-nighter could have EASILY been avoided if I just wrote snippets over the weeks.

Okay, essay-based assignments can be easily time managed, but what about studio? I would think 98% of my studio-based all-nighters could have been avoided if I was disciplined in my approach and learnt to make decisions and stick with them, and worked on it a couple hours a day, each day. Instead I waste my days away watching movies and Youtube videos, browsing aimlessly online, staring blankly at Facebook and then cry work overload the day before studio and need to do drawings.

A day or two before interim and final reviews, big nights and/or all-nighters are usually in order, for me anyway, to achieve the final product I strive for. However if I was more prepared and organised, I could start prepping a week before but I just seem to procrastinate. It is possible to rock up to review with 8 hours of sleep as a couple of my friends seem to do it each time!

An architect who I admire and look up, and I’ve heard a few architects mention this, they use to treat university like a 9-5. They would focus and concentrate from 9am to 5pm, or 6pm, then that’s it, they have the night to themselves to relax, play video games, watch movies without guilt, even SLEEP! This is something that should be encouraged by professors, tutors, lecturers, unit chairs, Head of School and so on.

In saying all of this, there seems to be a culture within architecture school that consists of late/all-nighters, 3am Maccas runs, naps in the studio during the day and the belief that you are going to spend most of your free time in the studio. This can strain not only someone’s physical health but their mental well-being as well, and I am a walking example of this, however this is a future post to address that issue.

I want to hear from you, did or do you pull all-nighters? Do you think that all-nighter was avoidable or were you doomed to do it? Or perhaps you’re one of the lucky few that has never done an all-nighter? What are your secrets to achieving this?!

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