All-nighters: the bane of all architecture students. The new academic year brings in an influx of fresh, enthusiastic architecture students alongside slightly more hardened veterans of the degree, and students of all experience levels are reminded of the unfortunate tendency for work to stretch through the night. It's an easy habit to slip into for both students and even those working in practice; however many times we may tell ourselves at the end of a project that we will be more organized next time, the work always piles up and it seems like the only option – but it’s not!
With architecture holding the title for the degree that works the longest hours, it is important to maintain a healthy work-life balance throughout. If you feel that you are falling into the trap of staying up until 6am every day then this article should prevent any further sleep deprivation. With advice taken from several architecture students with years of experience dodging the twilight hour, this list will guide you on your way to enough sleep and decent grades.
1. Be Realistic With Your Goals
Giving yourself impossible deadlines will only demotivate you and stress you out further. Understand that plans and models don't happen in a couple of hours, they can take days. Once you have grasped the actual time frames of tasks, your time management will be a lot more efficient.
2. Wake Up Earlier
This coincides with getting enough sleep, but assuming you can get out of bed, it will offer you a time of day where there are few distractions and you are at your most productive. One way to do this is to have your breakfast once you are at the studio to save time in the morning.
3. Prepare Your Meals
In the weeks running up to a deadline, have your freezer stocked full of frozen meals that can be quickly popped in the microwave. Batch cooking will be a savior in both time and money, so invest in that Tupperware!
4. Aim To Finish Early
Dedicate a few days prior to the final deadline for uncompleted tasks. It is likely that you have been over-optimistic with your time frames and this gives you the space to overrun without sacrificing too much sleep.
5. Don't Always Take What The Professor Says Seriously
This one's a controversial point, but if you are told to change your scheme a few days before the deadline use your initiative and work out whether it is worth the whole new set of drawings.
6. Take A Step Back
Realize when enough is enough. How much will another drawing add to your project and are you just wasting time on something less important than what has been asked of you?
7. Look After Your Body Clock
Don't slip into the habit of going to bed late and waking up late every day. Even if you believe you work better in the evening, be reasonable with when you call it a night.
8. Use Every Spare Minute
If you have ten minutes spare between lectures or you are waiting for your computer to load, use that time to whip up a quick development diagram or put together some words on your design to use in your coursework.
9. Make Your Breaks More Effective
Incorporating relaxing activities into your breaks such as a brisk walk/run or yoga will give your head some space from your work for a while, so you can come back to it with a new mindset and increased productivity.
10. Collate Your Work Early
During the entire project, constantly put together your coursework into presentation sheets so you are not developing the layout, text, and images at the last minute.
11. Work With Friends
Friends with the same deadline will provide the strong working environment to motivate you. This gives you the opportunity to evaluate your progress in relation to theirs and keeps you on track.
12. Get Some Sleep
Notice when you are working slower and go to sleep. There is no point staying awake for hours finishing off something that will take half the time in the morning.
13. Plan Your Coursework
Avoid unnecessary work by figuring out early on what you want to include in your crit and coursework so you are only doing the drawings that you will need to refer to.
Images for this article were kindly provided by Andrea Vasquez.
In 2015, ArchDaily asked its readers to reflect on the pros and cons of architecture's culture of long hours. Read what they had to say here.