So you THINK that if you pound a Red Bull, AMP, Monster or other energy drink that you’ll be able to stay up through the night and play catch up, right? You think this because the inference is that you’ll have less distractions, can listen to music and be more productive. WRONG. Here’s what really happens, and how you can kill a day working through the night.
Part One: Staying Up
The first couple hours of staying up, once you’ve decided to work straight through the night, are spent at a slower pace because your mind think you have all night. The time is spent cleaning up your inbox(es) and writing out your plan of attack. Some of those emails will side track the hell out of you and two hours into your night of catch up, you’ll find yourself accepting friend requests or replying to video or blog comments people left for you.
Part Two: Catching Up
You’ll get a good 3-4 hours of work done before that energy drink starts wearing off. Hopefully, you spent it on the urgent stuff that’s due the next day, because that other stuff ain’t gonna happen my friend. You’ll spend double or triple the time on that urgent task that you thought you were going to (because you’re a perfectionist and because you keep toggling back and forth between the project and social media).
Part Three: Coming Down
2am rolls around, maybe 3am, and feel great, but you just looked at your screen and at the clock and realized that you haven’t completed a sentence for 30 minutes. This goes on for the next 2-3 hours. 5am, maybe 6am, comes around and you suddenly become alert again. You wrap up what you were working on and get the emails out to the people who you’re doing the work for. You realize that you haven’t eaten since you pounded that Red Bull at 9:30pm the night before, but you keep pressing on.
At 7am, you start working on those other items and realize your doing the drowsy thing again, and your neck is starting to hurt. You rush to wrap up as much as you can (which isn’t much), and you go to bed.
No Rest for the Weary
At 8:00am the alarm goes off and the house is restless. You try to sleep through but the kids miss you and want to jump on the bed while you’re trying to rest. You don’t remember much, it’s sort of like waking up during a surgery with a few images and words remembered between dozing in and out.
9:00am, your clients start calling you. Something urgent (well to them at least), so you get up and take a 30 minute call. You also grab a bagel and some OJ because you’re starving. 10am, you’re back in bed. 11:30, another call you have to take because it’s someone important and you value their business. 2pm, resources need help doing work, so your wife wakes you up and you get back online for an hour. It’s already almost 3pm, only 1.5 hours from the call you have scheduled for 4:30pm, why even bother going back to bed? You had figured on sleeping from 8am – 3pm – guess that didn’t happen did it?
The Other Tasks
Your call at 4:30 ends and you have to eat something again. You’re grumpy, tired and have those other action items that need your attention. You push through now after having a bite but it’s the same feeling as the night before, drowsy and pointless.
You just killed a day trying to catch up. You got the urgent item done, but none of the stuff that really mattered, and worse, now your tired, grumpy, and still have a ton of work to do.
Sick days don’t work for entrepreneurs.
Working straight through the night might work for someone who doesn’t have interactions with others, but definitely not for someone who does. I recommend scheduling 2-3 days off per month where you notify everyone that you will not be available AT LEAST twice before the off period. Take those 2-3 days, turn off the phone, turn on the auto-responder, and put a HUGE sign on the wall that says “FOCUS”. That’s the only thing I know to work.
What do you do as opposed to working through the night to play catch up? To qualify to answer, you must be married with at least two kids under the age of 5 and must have a role that requires interaction with resources, clients and vendors. I’d love to hear your feedback. Thanks for reading!