How to Survive a Hackathon

A hackathon — a combination of the words hack and marathon if you hadn’t guessed — is an event where tech people get together to code over a period of a few hours, sometimes days.

We’ve attended several hackathons over the past few years, so we thought we’d share some tips that we’ve picked up along the way on how to survive a hackathon!

Planning is winning

When you’ve got a short amount of time to get a lot done, planning is crucial. We wrote a guide a coupe of years ago on how to prepare for a hack event, and our advice still stands!

The more you plan, the more time you’ll have for coding on the day!

Make sure everyone’s on the same page

Choose carefully! The more diverse your skills and backgrounds are, the better your chances of success.

If you decide to work on separate tasks make sure to catch-up with your team every few hours to ensure everything is still aligned and that everyone is playing to their strengths. There’s nothing worse than getting twelve hours in to find out that two of you have been working on the same thing for the last few hours and you could have spent that time on the crucial presentation!

Keep it simple

Aim to create something simple then build it into something magnificent. Create a product that will take a few hours to develop then you can spend the rest of the time improving it to show off to the judges.

A finished product is better than a polished one, so make sure that what you create is achievable in the time that you have.

A finished product is better than a polished one.

Simple or small doesn’t have to mean boring, either. Birthday and wedding cakes are often made using madeira cake, which is notoriously simple, but that simple cake can be used to create everything from BB8 to Hogwarts.

Photo courtesy of Tech Nottingham.

Don’t be afraid to start over (and learn to fail fast)

If you start working on a product but realize it’s not working a few hours in, don’t be afraid to start again. There’s no point spending your time working on something if you realize early that it is not going to turn out as you planned it.

Take regular breaks

Taking a break to have something to eat, get some fresh air or have a power nap can make a huge difference to your productivity levels. You may feel like it puts you behind at first, but you’ll achieve more running at 100% for 16 hours than at 50% for 24 hours.

Try something like the Pomodoro technique and set a reminder so that you’re not glued to your station.

Do some exploring

Staying in the same room for long periods can be exhausting in itself. Break it up by going for a short walk outside or around the venue on your own or with your team.

Steve Jobs was a big fan of walking meetings because they’re a great way to brainstorm, and there’s no reason you can’t take advantage of the same tactics! It seemed to work pretty well for him at Apple 😉

Image courtesy of Giphy.

Stay hydrated

It sounds simple, but did you know driving dehydrated is as dangerous as drink driving?

A study done by Loughborough University last year found that when you drive dehydrated your reflexes are on par with when you’ve drunk alcohol. While you probably won’t be driving during the hackathon, you still need to think clearly, and you can’t do that when you’re dehydrated.

If you’re really in need of a break and aren’t from the area, why not check out some of the local pubs and cafes when you go get some fresh air? You never know what hidden gems you’ll discover!

Keep a bottle of water by your side and use getting a refill as an excuse to get up and stretch your legs. You can also use this time to stock up on snacks.

Remember to eat

When you’re heavily focused on something the hours can go by before you realize you haven’t eaten all day. Don’t do it! Set reminders so that you eat regularly and keep your blood sugar levels up. The lower your blood sugar levels are, the more difficult it is to concentrate.

Photo courtesy of Tech Nottingham.

Looks good, doesn’t it?

Have a nap

Power naps are a great tool to give you an energy boost when you’re starting to lag. If there’s somewhere you can go for a quick nap, take advantage! Don’t go past the crucial 20-minute mark though — after that you start to go into REM sleep, and that’s when it becomes harder to wake up and you start to feel groggy.

For an extra energy boost, have a caffeinated drink before you fall asleep. Caffeine takes about twenty minutes to get into our system, so drinking something caffeinated before you nap will leave you feeling extra refreshed and ready to go when you wake up!

Image courtesy of Giphy.

Meet your fellow hackers

Hackathons are great places to network. People who’ve met at previous hackathons have gone on to become great friends, worked together and even started businesses together! Explore the room when you can and don’t just stick to your comfort zone.

Enjoy yourself

With everything going on around you and everything you have to do it’s easy to forget to enjoy the moment. Even if you’re a regular at hackathons, every one is different, so take few moments to sit back, take some photos, and enjoy the atmosphere!

Out of all our advice, this has to be the most important! Every hack event is different, so it’s worth taking the time to enjoy it.

Photo courtesy of Tech Nottingham.

And when it’s all over…

Relax and reflect

You’ve worked hard and hopefully won a cool prize you want to play with, but don’t forget to relax and reflect! You’ve earned it!

When you’re all partied out, get an early night to make sure you’re ready for whatever Monday brings.

What are your tips for surviving a hackathon? Let us know on Twitter @cronofy or over on the Cronofy Facebook page!

The post How to Survive a Hackathon appeared first on Crypto Currency Online.

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