Ah, the all-nighter. Despite not being in college anymore, they are often unfortunately still necessary in the legal sector. The truth is, we have clients, our job gets difficult, and the tasks pile on to the point where we just can't get everything done, even with the help of our staff, in time to go home for some shut-eye.
So, what should you do? If you find yourself facing a pressing task that requires an all-nighter, don't fear. You can still get through it. Here are five tips to help you out:
Only pull an all-nighter if it's absolutely necessary. Is the assignment due in the morning? Is it so pressing that it just has to be done before you get some shut-eye? If so, then you'll have to resort to an all-nighter. But if it can wait, even just a little bit (like enough for a good night's rest), then put it off. Sleep is crucial to health and sanity, and as an attorney, you need an abundance of both. Unfortunately, all-nighters as an attorney are not quite as fun as they were in college, and let's not kid ourselves -- we are a bit older and don't have quite the same energy levels to sustain us without sleep. Also, since we're on the topic of college, don't run exclusively on junk food, either.
Take breaks, still. If you find that you've gone literally more than an hour without getting anything done, then it may be time for a break. Try a power nap, a quick snack, splash some water on your face, or do a few jumping jacks to get your juices flowing just enough to tackle one step. Repeat as needed.
Don't get too comfortable. True, productivity relies heavily on many a mental component, but how you feel physically can contribute far more (especially late at night when you have that extra cushion-y couch in your office just begging for you to plop down on it). Resist the urge to get too comfortable, or you may end up succumbing altogether and falling asleep. Stay at your desk, or somewhere you know you'll be relatively comfortable, yet still productive.
Get work done. Seriously, get to it, or else you'll never get to leave. If you don't get to work, then you're missing out on sleep for nothing, and one of the following people that you're accountable to is going to be very unhappy: your client, a judge, your paralegal, your husband/wife, etc.
The end goal. Make sure that you never forget the reason for staying up miserably all night. Without a clear-cut reminder of the purpose, you'll find it very difficult not to doze off (literally). Remember, as an attorney, you are an advocate for someone. Regardless of how unpleasant the current task is, you represent a client who is depending on you.
Lastly, breathe, remember to relax, plan out your time accordingly, and also remember that you have a beautiful sunrise to look forward to.