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Why an “All-Nighter” Does Not Help You, Your Company, Your Career

October 16th, 2012 · No Comments

Most of us have pulled all-night work sessions at some point in our careers. For most of us, the habit usually begins with a cramming session in high school or college, supposedly to help us make it through the test or paper that we were not prepared for. Eventually, it becomes something we get used to, especially later in our careers when the projects are bigger, and the deadlines tighter.

In fact, lots of people are proud of their ability to work through the evening and into the next morning – considering it proof of their work ethic and dedication. But are all-nighters really good for your productivity, your health, or your career?

Research suggests that it is not. Lots of studies have been done, and they all show that the work we do when we stay up too late is not as good as we think it is. That is even true for students, who tend to score lower on tests after being deprived of sleep.[1]

As it turns out, staying up all night is almost always counterproductive. Here are a few reasons why:

The quality of work decreases. Most of us already know intuitively that we aren’t as creative or insightful when we are tired. The research backs this up: Being sleep-deprived is as bad for your productivity as being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

We make simple errors that we should not. When you haven’t had enough sleep, you overlook simple, obvious errors. That can amount to typos in a presentation, calling the client by the wrong name, or making a major accounting mistake.

Staying up all night ruins the next day (or maybe two) of productivity. That is not a good trade to make, especially if you are pulling an all-nighter because you are behind on other work or projects.

We set bad habits for ourselves. When you think that you can be successful by staying up all night to finish the task, you encourage procrastination on the next important project. Sooner or later, that is bound to catch up with you.

If you really want to do great work without missing deadlines, get in the habit of following solid time-management tips, prioritizing projects so you don’t take on too much, and eliminating time-wasting habits. That might not seem as exciting as burning the midnight oil to finish a last-minute project, but it is a lot better for your life and career.



[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18412035

http://www.onlinecolleges.net/2012/02/27/the-anatomy-of-an-all-nighter/

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Tags: Office Productivity · Personal Productivity

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