How To Pull A Productive All-Nighter

Being an entrepreneur you will find yourself having to pull an all-nighter on occasion, but what use is it if you’re not being productive? For me, it’s not so much “having to”, it’s that I often find myself so engrossed in what I’m doing that the night just slips away. Even in that scenario you will find at certain times your energy will become drained and your focus… well what focus? You’ll be darting all over the place switching through your Internet browser tabs and windows. Hopefully, I’ll be able to help alleviate that.

Before we begin it should be noted that I don’t recommend pulling all-nighters all the time, doing so would kill any chance of productivity without being loaded up on pills (that’s a no-no). This is just what I do – there’s no science to it and it’s definitely not healthy. Also, if you have something important that you need to focus on the following day, I would strongly advise not staying up all night as your head won’t be completely in it.


Nate Grigg, CC-BY-2.0.

Materials Needed

Notepad / Note Taking App

You will use your notepad or app to write a to-do list of everything that you want to complete on the night. I like to use Google Keep.

It is important to structure your list in a way that allows you to easily flow from one thing to the next. An example if you’re developing a web application; write down names and types of fields needed for user settings, design user settings page, create database table, write PHP code for user settings form.

You MUST write a to-do list beforehand!

2x 500ml Energy Drinks

Your energy drinks will help give you a little boost of energy to keep you awake and help you focus on your work. I like Rockstar Xdurance as the other drinks don’t seem to have an effect on me. You can substitute with coffee if that works for you.

Glass of Water

A glass of water will help keep you awake and gives you something to drink when you finish your energy drink.

Junk Food (Crisps, Chocolate Bars, Nuts)

Junk food is also to give you some energy when you need a boost.


By staying up all night you’ll need something other than junk food to satisfy your hunger. Noodles are quick and easy to make.

Pillow & Blanket

Yes you are pulling an all-nighter, but you’ll still need these.

Thick Milkshake or Fruit

In the morning you probably won’t be up to eating much, so a nice thick milkshake is a healthy-ish replacement or even a piece of fruit. A smoothie would work too!

I usually go to bed 10-10:30 PM and get up at 4 AM, so by pulling an all-nighter I am gaining an extra 5 and half to 6 hours of work time. It’s amazing how much I can get done in that time. Everyone is in bed sleeping so there are zero interruptions – apart from my pet cat every so often, but she’s not too much of a bother.

If you are working on a computer in the dark I would recommend installing Flux. It’s a great little app that automatically adjusts the color of your display depending on the time of day. It’ll help stop your eyes from getting sore. If you are doing graphic design work or work where you need to see the colors, you can disable it until you are finished.

The Night

OIMax, CC-BY-2.0.

And now we go on to how my all-nighters usually go;

11:30 PM

I like to get that little boost of energy going before I start feeling tired, so this is around the time that I begin drinking the first can of energy drink. I’ll also eat snacks periodically – not constantly stuffing my face. I’ll stop eating at 3AM to allow room for noodles at 4AM.

4:00 AM

By now I feel a little drained and losing focus, so it’s time to start eating the noodles and pop open that 2nd energy drink can.

6:30 AM

I usually take a quick nap. “Hey, I thought you were pulling an all-nighter?!” Yeah, yeah, I hear you. But taking a 20 minute nap will help give you that final boost of alertness and energy to finish off your to-do list before everyone else starts getting up and interrupting you again.

8:30 AM

Take a shower and do your usual morning routine, then have your milkshake or a fruit.

The Following Day

Don Miller, CC-BY-2.0.

You’ve survived staying up all night! Some people can get by okay with a lack of sleep and others will be like zombies. Regardless of which you are, try to get a 90 minute nap at some point or if you can’t do that, a few 20 minute naps will keep you going until that night. Be warned that your sleeping routine might be knocked off, but after a few times you’ll find the right balance.

I enjoy pulling all-nighters as it’s something I associate with doing a lot throughout my teenage years when I first got into building my own websites, it’s like I’m challenging myself to see if I can still do it. All in all, it’s not recommended and I would only do it occasionally, if you can help it!

Header image based on Go-Live Supplies by Nate Grigg, CC-BY-2.0.

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About Iain Meddicks

Iain Meddicks is a father and music industry entrepreneur from Glasgow, Scotland. He is the founder of SendBeatsTo and CrazyPellas Music Community and has a passion for web technologies.

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