Do you want to stay productive even when you’re tired? Well, there are ways to do so. But one thing you have to understand is that it is absolutely normal for people to feel tired and experience the drops in productivity after the long-hour work.
We’re human, but not superhuman. And our brains are wired to distract us after we pay attention to work over a long period.
The thing is that sometimes we feel tired and exhausted, but yet we still have to work and get things done.
Successful people who created outstanding results in their lives are people who understand how to manage their productivity well. They seem to be able to maintain their focus and energy for long hours and manage to get things done even when they are tired.
Feeling tired and lack of energy for one day is absolutely fine. But if this prolongs and continues every day, it can greatly affect your life.
Like smoking. You don’t see the effect in the short-term. But if you continue to smoke for 10 or even 20 years, you are slowly killing yourself.
Hence, learn to manage your own productivity.
No matter who you are, be it whether you are a student trying to cram your study before exams or an entrepreneur wanting to solve some critical problems in your business, you can improve your focus and make yourself more productive.
So how exactly are you going to do that? Here are 7 ways that can quickly restore your energy and make you productive again when you’re tired.
1. Do a brain dump and then focus
One of the best ways to be productive when you’re exhausted it to do a brain dump. A brain dump is simply an exercise to write down everything that is in your mind. Hence, the word, “brain dump”.
Put down every thought you have in your mind. You can choose to write down your thoughts on papers or simply type them out in your computer.
You can list down everything that you need to do, everything that you worry about, whatever.
Once you have completed this exercise, you will feel lighter and relief. You are letting go of everything.
The next thing you want to do then is to pick the most important task that you need to do, your priority, and focus on doing it.
This exercise is extremely effective when you’re overwhelmed with your to-do’s and too many things to tackle.
When you feel overwhelmed, you will feel lost and stuck. It makes you feel tired and exhausted. And this will be the best time to do a brain dump.
If you want to learn more about brain dump, read this article from Little Coffee Fox.
2. Take a quick and short break
What better thing can you do when you’re tired? Just take a short and quick break. There is no point to press on and continue working when your brain is stuck.
Whenever I’m feeling tired and exhausted when writing articles, I will just stop, take a quick break for a few minutes, and then come back to my writing again.
In 2011, a study was carried out by professor Alejandro Lleras from the University of Illinois to determine the effect of prolonged work or study without breaks.
Professor Alejandro divided his 84 subjects into 4 groups:
- The control group was asked to work non-stop for the 50-minute duration
- The switch group and the non-switch group memorized four numbers before the work period began, and both groups were told to inform the research team if any of these digits appeared on their computer screen during the 50-minute duration.
- The numbers appeared twice on the computer screens of those in the switch group, but they never appeared on the screens of those in the non-switch group.
- The digit-ignored group was also shown the same set of numbers, but told to simply disregard them if they appeared on their screens.
Researchers discovered that for the control, non-switch, and digit-ignored groups, their performance progressively declined until the 50-minute mark.
However, the switch group remained sharp and on-task for the entire duration.
And professor Alejandro concluded that the switch group that performs better because they were allowed 2 brief diversions when they perform the task.
In other words, you need to take breaks to distract yourself from over-focusing on your task at hand.
It is easy to understand. You work for 50 minutes, and then you take a 10 minutes break.
You want to keep your mind fresh and avoid being overwhelmed by putting too much attention until you feel exhausted and can’t focus.
Hence, whenever you’re feeling tired and exhausted, stop your work and take a short break. You can come back to your work later once you feel more refreshed.
3. Move your body
So what do you do when you’re taking a break? Exercise a little bit, do some simple stretching, and move your body.
When you’re feeling tired, your body may become stiff and ache. Perhaps, you’re not taking enough sleep, or maybe you’re sitting for way too long in front of your computer screen.
So what you need to do then to restore your productivity is to do some simple exercise.
You don’t have to exercise until you sweat excessively. You just need to move around and stretch your body a little. Or if you want to, just stand up, walk and bounce around.
According to a study, stretching can boost your cognitive flexibility by 27% and improves your processing speed by 10%.
When you move around and exercise, you improve the blood and oxygen flow in your body to your brain. It makes you more alert and at the same time, refreshes you.
Hence, don’t just sit and not moving at all. Try to move your body from time to time. It will make you feel better.
4. Take a power nap
What if you’re feeling really tired and sleepy? Well then, just take a power nap.
A power nap is a short nap that aims to boost your productivity and refresh you after the nap. It is meant to be short, usually within 15 to 30 minutes.
You don’t want to sleep for an hour or two. If you take a sleep, you may fall into the deep sleep mode and when you wake up, you will feel weak and groggy.
According to this article from Michael Hyatt, the best-selling author, he said:
“The secret to becoming more productive is not managing your time but your energy.”
And Hyatt went on to give some examples of extraordinary people who have made power nap their habits.
- Leonardo da Vinci took multiple naps a day and slept less at night.
- The French Emperor Napoleon was not shy about taking naps. He indulged daily.
- Physicist Albert Einstein napped each day—on top of getting ten hours of sleep each night.
- Though Thomas Edison was embarrassed about his napping habit, he also practiced his ritual daily.
- Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, used to boost her energy by napping before speaking engagements.
- Oil industrialist and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller napped every afternoon in his office.
In short, taking power naps can restore your alertness, prevent burnout, and also make you more productive.
You may think that taking a nap is a waste of time. No, it is not.
I’ve been taking power naps whenever I need to in the afternoon whenever I feel needed. And I can tell you that it works well for me. After I wake up, I feel refresh and have the energy to tackle my work again.
There is no point to work when you’re tired because you’re only going to take longer to complete the task. And not to mention that the work you produce when you’re exhausted is usually sub-par work.
5. Drink a cup of coffee
I guess I don’t have to explain much about this. Coffee has been proven to increase our alertness and productivity.
In today’s world, coffee is not just a drink, but a social event. People enjoy coffee in so many ways now – hazelnut, macha, double chocolate, pumpkin-spiced, you name it.
When you’re tired and you want to stay productive to get the work done, just make yourself a cup of coffee.
However, you have to be careful and not to drink too much coffee. I believe in moderation. Getting yourself a cup of coffee or two a day is good enough. You don’t have to pour the caffeine into your body like drinking water.
You will hurt yourself and destroy your health this way. Thus, be moderate.
6. Change your work environment
If coffee is not the way you’re looking for, then here’s a great hack you may want to use to boost your productivity when you’re feeling exhausted.
For instance, when you’re feeling tired, just grab your laptop and work somewhere else. When you change your environment, you will change your mood.
It makes you feel fresh and able to concentrate better.
You don’t have to go out of the office if you don’t want to. For example, you can sit and work on the heavy task in the morning. And when you’re tired, just can grab your laptop and work on a standing table. Or simply work from the couch.
The key is to change the workplace or to switch to a different environment.
Research has shown that using a standing table can improve your productivity and make you more engaged with your work.
So you might want to consider to invest in a standing table and make it your secondary workplace.
You can choose to work on the standing table for more creative work that requires your brain power. Plus, the standing table can also be a great solution when you’re feeling tired.
7. Get rid of all distractions
Distractions are time and energy drainers. They take away not just your attention, but also eats up your willpower and make you feel tired quickly.
How can you stay focused and be productive to get things done when you have more than 10 tabs open?
Notification is another big productivity killer.
Imagine that when you’re working attentively, you’re on the flow, but suddenly, you receive a notification and you can’t help but check it out. Only to discover that it is a forwarded text. And so you ignore it and get back to your work. But you have distracted your flow. The creative juice stops flowing and you can’t get the oomph back.
In short, distractions will destroy your momentum.
The situation is worse when you’re tired and exhausted. You already find it difficult to focus and you don’t have much energy to pay attention. Yet, you have to deal with distractions.
And when you’re tired, your tendency to procrastinate becomes higher. It will take even more energy and willpower to resist the temptations that are right in front of you.
Therefore, stop all distractions and never let yourself being interrupted, especially when you need to focus the most.
Choose to pay attention and do just one thing at a time, especially on tasks that require your creativity and thinking power.
When you’re working, cut off all possible distractions. Take away your phone or switch it off. Lock yourself in the room.
And once you get your work completed, you can then enjoy your play. You can get distracted in any way you want.
Remember, when you’re tired and you’re constantly getting distracted, it will make you even less productive.
It is normal for you to feel tired and find it difficult to focus on your work, especially when you don’t get enough sleep or after taking a heavy lunch.
But you don’t have to let the rest of your day ruins and wasted just because you’re feeling tired. Apply the 7 methods above and do something about it.
You can still be productive even when you’re tired. The key is to handle your state properly. Just like what Tony Robbins wisely said:
“The number one key to success in life is to master your own state. If you can manage and master your states, there’s nothing you can’t do.”