How to Be Productive When You’re Tired

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Do you need to finish up your work at the end of the day? How to Be Productive When You’re Tired

Are you looking for some practical tips on how to get things done?

While it’s not a good idea to regularly work when you’re sleepy, weary, and bleary-eyed, sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

In this post, I offer several productivity tips to help you tackle work when you’re tired.

In all of the tips below, you’ll note that setting boundaries can be extremely useful when it comes to crossing off items on your to-do list.


Set task guidelines before working.

No matter what you think you’ll be able to accomplish when tired, you’ll probably only be able to finish a fraction of your work.

That being said, it pays to be upfront and honest about your work goals.

You can avoid a disappointing or unproductive work session by setting up practical and limited work guidelines.

One way to do this is to identify exactly which tasks you’re going to tackle. It’s important to remember you’re not trying to complete every single task you possibly can. You want to select a few key tasks that must be completed by the end of the day. Are you going to finish writing up that summary email for a project? Make five follow-up phone calls? Deliver an important envelope or package?

Another way to keep your work in check is to give yourself a specific time period in which to complete tasks. This way, your won’t won’t unnecessarily stretch into the evening and nighttime hours. Set a timer or a countdown clock before you start your work so you’ll stay on track.

Work on rote tasks.

In my experience, I’ve found that working on rote tasks at the end of the day is an easy way to be productive. Rote tasks are tasks that don’t require a lot of mental energy, focus, or attention. Some examples include shredding documents, deleting emails, backing up files, or scheduling social media posts.

What type of rote tasks could you take care of at the end of the day? Think about those office or household tasks that are for the most part, cut and dry to-dos. They don’t require much effort on your part, yet they need to be completed. This might include putting files back where they belong, updating a spreadsheet, taking out the trash and recycling, or sorting and folding laundry,   

You may want to create your own list of office or household rote tasks. The next time you’re feeling groggy, you can pull out your list and immediately get to work on one or two items.

Create momentum in your work.

We all know that when we’re tired, our resistance goes out the window. The good news is that you can use this to your advantage. Use this opportunity to make a small amount of headway on a project or assignment you’ve been avoiding. Again, you don’t have to completely finish your work, the idea is to break through that initial barrier of avoidance and resistance.

How can you create momentum in a stalled project or assignment? You could familiarize yourself with a report by reading the table of contents and summary, brainstorm ideas for an upcoming presentation, write a first draft of a program or report, or visit websites as part of research.

Sure, these tasks are relatively easy to do and are rather basic. But that’s perfectly okay. Getting something done is better than nothing.

Avoid multitasking.

This advice holds true for when you’re bright-eyed and busy-tailed, but is even more important when you’re feeling sleepy. Your mind and body are tired, and as such, you want to make your work experience as simple and efficient as possible for yourself. Focusing your attention on one task ensures you are making the most out of your current situation.

Besides limiting your work to a single task, you should also consider eliminating distractions in your immediate environment. You want every bit of attention you can muster. Shut down that email client, switch your smart phone to airplane mode, and disable notifications or pop up alerts.

How about you? What is your approach when it comes to getting things done when tired? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

Follow Rashelle:
Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.