We’ve all had to show up for work on days when we’d rather stay in bed. Didn’t get enough sleep the night before? Feeling overwhelmed by pressure, work or otherwise? Eat too much for lunch? Suffering from a low-grade virus?
Even if you’re not exactly sure why you feel sluggish or unfocused, you should try to take better care of yourself in the future. Unfortunately, that isn’t always an option when you’ve got an urgent deadline.
These tested tips can help you maintain your productivity when you’re tired.
1. Start with a to-do list
You should find creating a to-do list a pretty straightforward task. At the same time, taking the time to organize your work is one of the most productive things you can do. If you can’t keep up your typical pace, do the high-priority items on the list first.
Consider sending a few quick emails to tactfully ask if you can delay deadlines you don’t think you can meet while producing quality work. Sometimes, simple relief from pressure can feel reinvigorating. Try to focus on only one of your must-do tasks at a time.
2. Take a work break
You may not think you have time to take a break; however, sometimes the right kind of short break can pay for itself several times over in improved productivity the rest of the day.
You can use your break to put your head down on your desk, fix a cup of coffee or tea, or even to take a brisk walk around the block. Most hard workers can shake off minor fatigue with a shot of caffeine, physical activity, or a catnap.
3. Reduce distractions
It’s tough to focus when you’re fatigued. In addition, distractions cause workers to lose productivity. If possible, mute your phone and shut off messaging alerts. Harvard Business Review says that people almost automatically disengage from more important tasks because they feel anxious or curious when the phone rings or alerts chime.
It’s not just that distractions take time; they can also generate anxiety. HBR advises readers to monitor their emotions when they do respond to distractions. It’s important to understand how distractions make you feel because they’re often a source of fatigue and poor moods.
4. Go for the sure things
As they say, nothing succeeds as well as success. Look for tasks that you can complete quickly, so you can enjoy the satisfaction of crossing them off of your list. Often, lots of little tasks take as much time and attention as larger projects. You might as well get them out of the way so long as you don’t have an urgent deadline looming.
It’s better to skip complex tasks that require absolute precision when you don’t feel on top of your game. If you make errors because you’re tired, you’ll just generate more work for yourself.
5. Do some desk stretches
If you can’t leave your desk to stretch out, you can still move your body enough to help improve blood flow and relieve discomfort. These are some examples of desk stretches:
- Bend one of your knees and pull your thigh in toward your chest; repeat with the other leg. This exercise helps relieve pressure on your lower back.
- Do some head and shoulder rolls to loosen your neck.
- Press your palms together to stretch and expand your chest to enable deep breathing.
Research has demonstrated that stretching also helps improve oxygen flow to the brain, so you can boost your energy levels and concentration.
Don’t try to fight fatigue forever
If you feel fatigued often, you’re not alone. The Harvard Health Blog says that it’s one of the most common symptoms people bring up to their physicians. Lack of sleep, a poor diet, and stress contribute to chronic fatigue most of the time; however, it can also be the symptom of a more serious health issue.
If you’re often trying to plow through your workday when you feel tired, you should schedule a visit with your doctor to discuss this. Most likely, they have helped plenty of other patients who have lost the spring in their step and can help you too.