Productivity is essential and drives us forward both in our work and in our home lives, but how can you be productive when you’re exhausted?

When you’re tired or feeling overworked, your performance as a professional suffers, you get behind on important deadlines, and eventually, you burn out.

In this guide, we’ll share the best ways we know how to have a productive day when you’re tired and list our favorite productivity habits for you to develop!

How do you prepare for a productive day the night before?

When you’re mentally and physically exhausted, tomorrow’s tasks can seem like Goliath.

Taking some time to get ahead of the curve will help you feel less overwhelmed at the thought of starting a new day.

A productive day begins with properly planning out your tasks the night before your day actually starts.

Below are our favorite tips to help you avoid unproductive days:

1. Double-check that today’s to-dos are complete

Don’t end your work day and prepare for another without making sure your goals for today are complete.

Take a quick glance over today’s work so you’re confident that you’ve checked all the boxes.

Did you forget to answer an important email from your colleague?

Add it to tomorrow’s to do list and make it a priority.

2. Create a schedule for tomorrow

After your workday is complete, take a moment to schedule tomorrow’s work in your daily planner.

List everything you need to do in order of most important tasks to least urgent tasks and be selective of what you add to your to do list.

You don’t want to put too much on your plate when you aren’t feeling your best.

Can anything be kicked down the road and addressed later? If so, do that, and focus on getting the most challenging tasks out of the way first.

Add meetings, calls, and events to your calendar and set alerts for reminders—anything that you can plan ahead for, do so. It’s particularly beneficial if you use specialized software for managing your tasks; for instance, if you’re running a locksmith business, a software like Service Fusion can be incredibly helpful. It’s an all-in-one solution for Field Service Management businesses, proven to increase productivity by up to 40%. This kind of tool can help you schedule tasks and meetings, sends reminders, and assists in task prioritization, freeing up more of your valuable time.

3. Eat a healthy dinner and prepare for tomorrow’s meals

Healthy habits in your daily schedule are important for overall wellness and productivity.

If you feel sluggish on top of being physically tired or mentally drained your productivity will surely suffer.

By eating a nutritious supper and preparing ahead of time for a healthy breakfast and lunch, you’ll feel better and avoid a rushed morning of shoving a donut down your throat and a frozen meal at noon.

Overnight oats and prepping healthy meals can go a long way! Moreover, if you’re often too busy to cook, consider using meal delivery services like Factor. Their nutritious pre-made meals can help you maintain healthy eating habits without the stress and hassle of preparing food yourself.

Watch this video for meal prep ideas:

Meal Prep for Work – Nurse Rachel

4. Find clothes for the next day

Skip the hassle of rummaging through piles of clothes by picking out your outfit the night before work.

5. Try your best to rest

Adequate sleep is essential to how well you can focus throughout the day.

Being emotionally and physically tired can negatively impact your health, so try to get the best night’s sleep you can.

Below are some ways to get enough sleep:

  • Remove all sources of blue light an hour or 2 before you sleep.

  • Keep your bedroom cooler, around 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Block out light and noise.

  • Silence your phone notifications.

The more restful your sleep is, the less likely you are to lose focus at work!

How should you start your morning for a productive day?

Starting your morning off right can improve your mood and help you feel prepared for the day ahead, even when you’re tired.

Follow the tips below for a productive morning routine:

1. Rise with the sun

If you’re just experiencing mental burnout, waking up an hour or more before you’re due to head off to work can be beneficial.

This gives you much-needed time to yourself.

On the other hand, if you’re physically exhausted, you’ll want to sleep in long enough to get decent rest without causing yourself to run behind.

2. Have a hearty breakfast

Now’s the time to have the wholesome breakfast you began preparing the night before!

A nutritious breakfast will keep you satisfied until lunch so you can focus on something besides your stomach rumbling.

Eating in the morning can also make you more alert and provide you the energy you need to stay productive and concentrate on your work.

3. Do a short morning workout

Working out has long been touted as one of the greatest stress relievers, which can improve mental fatigue and boost your mood.

Exercise and working up a sweat can also help wake you up after a less-than-adequate snooze.

Light exercise, like walking or jogging on the treadmill for 15 – 30 minutes is enough to get your blood pumping and increase your focus.

4. Take a warm shower

Warm showers are calming and a great way to ease stress as you look forward to a busy workday.

That said, warm showers can also make you drowsy.

Cold showers aren’t as pleasant, but they will definitely wake you up!

5. Leave early for work

Try making leaving early for work a part of your morning routine.

Not only can leaving early provide a cushion for unexpected delays, but getting to work before your coworkers can also give you some quiet time to refocus your thoughts.

Plus, you can take your time on your commute listening to your favorite podcast or audiobook.

Listening to something you’re passionate about can pique your interest and make you more alert.

6. Briefly review yesterday’s accomplishments

When you reach the office, your first task is to recap yesterday’s accomplishments and failures to see where you’re starting off today.

Did you finish everything you needed to do yesterday? Are there any projects that carry over to today?

Knowing where you left off the day before can give you a jump on the present workday.

7. Answer emails over coffee

Start your work off with simple tasks, like answering emails over an aromatic cup of coffee so that you’re not overwhelmed right off the bat.

Answering emails over a hot cup of coffee, tea, or your favorite morning beverage can ease you into the workday, reduce stress levels, and wake you up with a jolt of caffeine.

When you’re tired, it may be tempting to drink cup after cup of coffee but keep in mind that caffeine can also have unpleasant side effects such as jitters, headaches, and dehydration.

All of these can make you feel worse and completely kill productivity.

8. Go over your plan for today

Now that you’ve covered yesterday’s work and started today off with the little stuff, you can start planning for the long day ahead.

Take a look at the schedule and to-do list you made the night before and refresh your memory on where you plan to start first.

How do you have a productive day at work when you’re tired?

You’re ready to go full swing into your workday. These productivity tips are the best way to make the most out of your day!

1. Minimize distractions

Distractions, particularly from smartphones, are the biggest hindrances to an efficient and productive day.

Silencing your phone can prevent texts, notifications from social media accounts, and calls from interrupting your workflow.

When you’re drained, it’s easy to fall into the null of scrolling through TikTok, which is something you’ll want to avoid.

If you worry about missing important or emergency messages from your family, many smartphones allow notifications from favorite contacts even while in Do Not Disturb mode.

Other distractions, like chatty coworkers, can be minimized by shutting your office door or listening to music that helps you focus.

2. Stick to your schedule

Falling behind on work is one of the driving forces behind employee burnout and can result in having to spend hours making up for lost time.

When you’re worn out, sticking to a schedule can seem impossible, but once you get into the rhythm of starting and finishing your priority tasks, you’ll be done in no time!

3. Divvy up your workload

If you often share projects with your coworkers, see if there are any tasks that you can pass on to your teammates to lighten your workload on the days you’re feeling run down.

A difficult task can be made easier with teamwork and cooperation around the office.

4. Take a break

Staring at a screen for endless hours can tire your eyes, and working without breaks can be a detriment to your mental and physical health.

By taking regular breaks to grab some coffee in the lounge, step outside, or talk to a coworker, you can relax your mind and muster up more energy for the rest of the day.

5. Sit next to the window

Regular access to the outdoors can do wonders for a person’s health, even if it’s just looking at a bird fluttering by a window.

When a workplace has natural light, there’s reduced eye strain, increased productivity, decreased daytime drowsiness, and improved morale among employees.

Sitting next to a window can make you feel happier and more awake while you work, and if you’re able to open the window, a little more vitamin D never hurts.

Watch this video on how lighting affects workplace productivity:

How Lighting Affects Workplace Productivity – Amerlux Lighting

6. Keep moving

Sitting still can put your body in rest mode, which is the last thing you need when you’re trying to be productive.

By moving around every hour or standing to work, you can prevent yourself from losing focus or even nodding off!

7. Rejuvenate with a quick nap

If you’re given breaks from work, consider taking that time to shut your eyes and rest. Set a timer for 10 – 20 minutes, close your eyes, and clear your mind.

With even just 10 minutes of rest, you can improve your cognitive function and get a boost of energy.

What habits can make your days more productive when you feel tired?

Check out these 4 habits that productive people do to get the most out of their days at work.

1. Doing the hard stuff first

You probably don’t jump out of bed and look forward to the tedious stuff at work, but hard tasks are bound to come.

Get the tough stuff out of the way so the rest of your day can be spent on easier and quicker projects.

Starting with your biggest assignments can prevent mental fatigue in the evening and help you achieve your goal of a successful day.

2. Plan. Everything.

If you drone through emails randomly throughout your day, you’re probably distracting yourself from more important tasks.

Practice your time management skills and plan a dedicated time to check your emails or do other less-important tasks so they don’t end up taking away from the more pressing goals.

3. Focus on one task at a time

Multitasking doesn’t equal a more productive day.

Bad habits like bouncing around your various work tasks without completing them can become overwhelming and make it seem like you have more work than there actually is.

By zeroing in on a single project and completing it, you’ll check off your to-do list faster and feel more accomplished.

4. Break up large tasks into smaller parts

If you have a large, important task looming over your workday, you may start to stress over how you’ll manage to complete it.

A small task is much less intimidating than looking at a project as a whole.

Take a birds-eye view of your tasks and see how you can group them into smaller chunks. Then, tackle each group of mini-tasks until the bigger picture is complete.

5. Reward yourself

Give yourself a reward for completing a long, tiring day.

When you feel overburdened and have to push through work, having something fun or relaxing to look forward to can help you keep going.

Rewards such as a night out, a weekend trip with the family, or simply coming home and kicking your feet up can motivate you to complete your work tasks.

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Frequently asked questions

How do you have a productive day at work when you’re tired?

Below are 7 ways to have a productive workday when you’re feeling run down:

1. Minimize distractions

2. Stick to your schedule

3. Divvy up your workload

4. Take a break

5. Sit next to the window

6. Keep moving

7. Rejuvenate with a quick nap

Should I go to work with no sleep?

If you’ve had no sleep, going to work may not be in your or your coworkers’ best interest. Having problems with insomnia could be a sign of something deeper, so if you’re consistently getting no sleep, talk with your boss about taking the day off and consider making a visit to your doctor.

In conclusion

By implementing these tips when you’re tired, your energy levels will boost, you’ll settle into a positive daily routine, and have more productive days.

Create a work schedule that allows you to complete your tasks within the 8 work hours you have and try not to take work home with you, which leads to an imbalance in your work and home life.

Proper preparedness prevents poor performance, so implement as many of these tips and habits as you can to make your day productive! 

Hannah DeMoss is a staff writer for Shoeboxed covering organization and digitization tips for small business owners. Her favorite organization hack is labeling everything in her kitchen cabinets, and she can’t live without her mini label maker machine. 

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