09/20/2010 10:42 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Work a Little, Play a Little, Sleep a Lot

Many colleges will tell you that their students work hard and play hard, but I am not a work-hard play-hard kind of gal. I'm more of a work a lot, play a little person, or play a lot and work a little -- everything in moderation -- so I rarely pushed myself to the brink during my four years in school.

The one all-nighter I pulled during my college career was a disaster. It was mercilessly sandwiched between two all-dayers, and it was the type that makes you feel like you've been hit on the side of the head with a bag of sand and then been instructed to carry it on your back for a few hours.

What happened was this. I'd grossly (grossly!) misjudged the amount of time it would take me to put together a PowerPoint presentation for my thesis, mostly (well, entirely) because I had assumed that some figures I'd slapped together a few days before were correct when they were most definitely not. So rather than take a few hours to spruce up a more or less finished slideshow as I had intended, I faced the Sisyphean task of figuring out where my data had gone awry, fixing it, redoing the corresponding charts and then sprucing up the PowerPoint. Which was terrifying, not only because I didn't think I'd have time to do all that, but because the shoddy data might throw the entire validity of my thesis. The possibility of sleep disintegrated as I considered the gruesome hours ahead.

To backtrack. One of the reasons that I don't usually pull all-nighters is because I am an irrational tired person. When I don't sleep I don't think very well, and I don't think very quickly. Which is why in the midst of this thesis disaster, I decided that it was imperative that I go to my half-day unpaid internship the following morning. They could have done without me, but tired logic was having none of it, so I decided that, no matter what, I would make it to my internship, and on time. It was about midnight, and the plan was this. I'd work until I could reasonably take a nap, do that, go to work, come back, fix up my slides, present and go to sleep. Naturally, the time at which I could reasonably take a nap was nonexistent, so I replaced nap with shower and tried to cover up the woeful bags under my eyes before heading to work.

My slides were as done as they were going to be. I wasn't late to my internship, and I had so much coffee coursing through my veins that my hands were unpleasantly shaky, but I was awake. All things considered, things were OK. I started to think that maybe I could work hard and play hard, never sleep, do my work, go out, have my cake and eat it too. Until I realized that I wasn't following the plot of the website I was reading, and then I realized that websites don't have plots. But it took a long while for me to remember that, and even then only after I'd shaken myself awake from an involuntary and upright bathroom nap.

Needless to say, the presentation did not go well. It did not go horribly, either, but it could have been significantly better, and that's never a good feeling. That night it took me some time to fall asleep, over tired and over-caffeinated as I was, but when I did I slept for 14hours. And it was glorious.

So from now on, I'm sticking to my guns -- work a little, play a little, sleep a lot.

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