The due date that you fooled yourself into thinking was so far away is now mere hours away. You know it’s going to be a rough night, but you know you’ve got it in you… plus you don’t really have a choice. Here’s how the Mission of the All-Nighter usually pans out…
Stage 1: Procrastination
The night seems endless, you have hours at your disposal and a coffee machine, you don’t really have to start now do you? Besides, it won’t take THAT long.
Your enemy: Facebook. Memes. Arranging your highlighters at right angles. Anything that isn't your assignment. Watching Suits does not count as research. Do not be fooled; trust no one but your assignment sheet.
Stage 2: Motivation
It’s getting into the night so it’s positive self-talk time. You know it's time to dig deep, put your head down, and get on with it. Your time starts NOW.
Your ally: A marathon runner. Wendy Davis. Anyone with persistence and a concentration span longer than a sentence.
Your enemy: Meltdown. It's far too early for tears.
Stage 3: Roll
MAXIMISE THIS TIME. The quicker you get to this stage and the longer you can sustain it, the better prospect your chances of getting some sleep tonight.
Your ally: Yourself! You don't need anyone else at this stage; you're the most awesome student on the planet!
Your enemy: You are better than the Avengers and Justin Timberlake and Chupa Chups. You have no enemy.
Stage 4: Drowsiness
Somehow your roll dwindles to a pathetic stop as your dwindling attention span turns to fantasies of sleep.
Your enemy: The temptation to close your eyes. It seems like a good idea until you wake up hours later with an unfinished assignment and the imprint of your keyboard on your face.
Stage 5: Dependence
This is the point where caffeine seems more valuable to you than oxygen. By this point, exhaustion will make it seem like a good idea to have a 1:1 ratio of instant coffee to water, and all you desire is to have Red Bull supplied to you intravenously.
Your ally: Caffeine! Sugar! Even exercise can help to wake you up.
Your enemy: Distraction. Now is not the time to see how you can become a barista. It's all about the barrister at this point.
Stage 6: Buzz
Similar to "the roll", but the standards have dropped. Sentences sound eloquent to you and your arguments seem flawless. Hate to break it to you, but they’re probably not. What matters is that you are creating sentences and arguments.
Hysteria and delusion may also appear at this stage; Donoghue v Stevenson is even more hilarious past 2am.
Your ally: Caffeine! Sugar! Woo! Energy and stimulation!
Your enemy: Re-reading anything written in this stage after submitting the assignment. Guaranteed onslaught of self-hate.
Stage 7: Meltdown
Your eyes burn with the fury of a thousand Judge Judys. Your head throbs with every reference. Tears flow while you bang your head against the textbook and consider moving to Barbados.
Your ally: It seems like there are none, but I promise that there are. There are a lot of people who still care about you (granted, they are all sleeping right now). The thought that you're nearly there, that you've worked this hard, often helps to recapture some of that motivation.
Your enemy: The backstabbing two-faced “friend” - caffeine. The highs are delightful, but when the crash hits, it destroys.
Stage 8: Resignation
Although all you want to do is to cry until the rest of the world wakes up (which won't be that long anyway, you've nearly made it through the night), you know that what you need is more important. And you need to finish this assignment. This is a rare moment in your experience as a law student where you hear yourself think, "This will have to do". You admit you are not longer capable of putting in the best. Just put down something.
Your ally: Remember that part in a movie when the hero finds the strength to stand up even though a river of blood is gushing from their stomach, and defeats the baddie? Or when all seems lost and it's raining, but the music changes and the heartbroken protagonist pulls themself together? That's you.
Your enemy: Giving up. You've come this far, it's hurt this much. Make it worth it.
Stage 9: The light at the end of the tunnel (i.e. sunrise)
You're putting the final touches on your conclusion and doing your last references when you hear footsteps. No, not a thief coming to steal whatever is left of your sanity. It's just the rest of the world waking up for work.
Your enemy: Who cares? You're finished, nothing else matters.
Congratulations, you made it through the night! No one will notice you turning up to uni in exactly what you wore yesterday. No one will be able to see how disastrous you look past the dark rings also obstructing their own vision. We vow to never do it again, yet seem to enjoy the challenge of getting High Distinctions in the field of procrastination and insomnia.
Enjoyed this post? Sign up for the Survive Law weekly newsletter for more.