Tips to be more productive when you're tired

When you’re tired at work, what do you do? Do you become lazy and wish the day away? Do you find your mind wandering off, thinking about how nice a nap sounds? While these are responses most people have, the first step to becoming more awake and productive is to notice the way you’re feeling and the second step is to take action to be more focused and productive. We may all dream about the 4-hour workweek, but the reality is, most of us work at least 8 hour days with a lot of early mornings and late nights. The next time you’re struggling to stay awake at work, sharpen your focus by trying some of these ideas before chugging that sugary energy drink or downing another cup of coffee.

Fight Fatigue

If it wasn’t already clear through common sense, it’s becoming clear through science that sitting all day is terrible for your health. Standing can help reduce fatigue, tension, and confusion while increasing energy, focus, and happiness, studies show. Be creative if you don’t have the option of working at a standing desk. Work at a counter or on top of a shelf for 30 minutes. At the very least, standing for short periods may trick you into thinking you’re more energetic, which is half the battle. This leads us to the next tip.

Change Your Perspective

You’ve heard the saying “mind over matter”. Believe it. Believe you can check off items on your to-do list between meetings. Set up a plan to achieve your tasks. Have you heard of the time management method called block scheduling? Set aside time to focus on each specific task you need to do. See it on your calendar or on paper and know when to switch to your next task. Knowing you have specific projects to work on should keep you motivated and working hard, regardless of how exhausted you might feel.

Focus On One Thing At A Time

As long as you have the necessary flexibility, focus on one thing at a time. Don’t get too carried away trying to multitask multiple projects at once. Make a big project more manageable by splitting it into smaller sections. Checking each section off the list as they are completed will give you a feeling of accomplishment and keep you motivated and ready to continue down the list. A payroll example includes inputting your employees’ time off requests now and inputting/reviewing their payroll hours later when you feel more rested. Keep in mind that with an all-in-one payroll and HR software like Dominion’s, a Time & Attendance product with an Employee Self Service feature can enable your employees to punch in or out and request their own time off. This conveniently allows the software to keep track of the data you need and, in return, minimizes your time spent on daily payroll and HR tasks.

Turn Up The Heat

Temperature is a key variable that can impact performance. An ergonomics study at Cornell University finds that workers who are warmer are able to be more productive. When Cornell researchers turned down the thermostat in a test office, workers made more typing mistakes and finished less work, but sped up again when the warmth came back. Try boosting your thermostat, keeping a blanket at your desk, or turning on a space heater to feel more comfortable and mentally prepared.

Be Proactive

Stay proactive and prepare yourself before you hit that tired mark. One of the biggest factors in your energy level may be your diet. Eating right can make sure you stay sharp and alert, especially during busy times. Drinking water regularly, from the moment you wake up and throughout your day, will keep you hydrated and keep energy-fueling nutrients flowing through your body. Get the proper sleep you need every night. Limiting your caffeine intake to no more than 3 cups of coffee during the day will decrease problems sleeping and help you feel more rested.

These tips aren’t necessarily one-size-fits-all and might need to be altered based on your workday. If you have meetings all day, you might need to add another shot of espresso to your morning coffee, since some of these suggestions might not be appropriate. If you need to make phone calls all day, you might want to consider changing your atmosphere to feel more awake. What helps you stay focused and alert when you’re tired sitting at your desk?

Related Blog: Tips to Help Your Employees Focus During Summer

Headshot of Katie Vellucci, the author of this blog.