7 Ways to Be Productive When You're Tired (TPL 005)
You're tired today, but there's still work to do before you can curl up with a book or take a nap.
Use these 7 steps to be productive, get the work you need to do done, all while feeling more relaxed and indulgent.
Sound like a plan?
Last Week was High Energy. This Week is a Rebound.
I have my glass of red wine that I'm sipping on and I have been tired lately.
So I am just so excited to be talking to you about how to be productive when you're tired because this has been something I am personally doing.
So it comes at a perfect time where I knew I just wanted to share this with you guys because real life, we all get tired.
So like I said, I have been a little bit more tired than usual. I feel like last week I was very high energy pretty consistently.
And then yesterday I didn't get enough sleep the night before. Today has been a little bit better, but I just got so tired so early in the day.
So I have definitely been trying to find that balance of being productive while still not pushing myself.
I have learned firsthand from burnout so many times that you just really can't push yourself the same way when you're tired, at least not consistently or you'll burn out or get sick.
So it's really important to make adjustments and shift your expectations on days where you're lower energy and kind of honor that about yourself and your body.
But still sometimes we just have to get work done. So these are the seven things that I do to still be productive, even on days when I'm really tired and maybe just not feeling it and all I want to do is like lay on the couch and snuggle.
Step #1: Get in Focus Mode
Step number one is to get into focus mode. So this is kind of a productivity tip that I do no matter whether I'm high energy or low energy, but I find it as the most important when I am tired or easily distracted.
So in focus mode, that means your headphones are on, you've got some kind of music that makes it easy for you to work.
For me, it needs to be a playlist specifically geared towards working so there's no words, otherwise I'll just dance around and get distracted.
My favorite is Brain.fm. Spotify also has great playlists and there's tons of other apps out there that have a great music for working.
The other part about focus mode is to close any and all applications, browser windows, tabs, all that good stuff that don't need for the work you're doing.
That may include social media, most likely, and going into do not disturb mode.
So making sure your phone is on silent, turning off notifications on your computer, turning off notifications even from any apps you're in.
A lot of project management apps typically have a quiet word focus mode, so maybe you can go into that so you don't get notifications from clients or team members.
And really we just want to create a little space for you. When you're working, you're getting stuff done, you're not distracted, and that is what I call focus mode.
So step number one, getting anything done, especially when you're tired, you've got to be in focus mode.
Step #2: Have a Drink
Step number two is to have a drink that you like.
That might sound so silly. But I find that when I am just not feeling it, a good cup of coffee or tea or wine or a soda or whatever floats your boat— having something besides just water makes the whole thing feel way more enjoyable.
So step number two, it's high up on this list is to make sure you have a drink with you that you like that feels fun and special. It's going to make you feel cozy.
To me when I'm tired, I just want to feel cozy and if I'm comfortable and cozy I can still get work done.
Step #3: Get Cozy
Step number three is, ironically, exactly that same word, is to get cozy.. And it is whatever that means to you.
Whatever cozy or comfortable is you. For me, it's sitting on the couch, probably
When I'm tired, I can't get anything done sitting at my desk. So I like to go sit on the couch.
I have a blanket, I want to wear comfortable clothes, so maybe leggings, and my favorite sweatshirt or just something super comfortable.
So whatever that means to you, get cozy, sit in your favorite place, maybe it feels a little indulgent. That's kind of one of my secret tricks to this, also.
When we tired but have to work, how can we just feel a little indulgent?
So sometimes I'll work from bed, so you have to make sure you're not going to fall asleep. You know, be propped up with a lot of pillows, lights on, all that good stuff.
But if you work from home and you can, try to work somewhere a little bit more indulgent and comfortable and be sure to be dressed comfortably and have a comfortable environment.
Step #4: Create Your “Must Do” List & Prioritize Them
Step four is to create your "must do" list and then prioritize those. I know a lot of people talk about a top three.
I am pro having a top three list, but sometimes on days you just have more than three things you have to do.
But we really still can prioritize them from your list of 20 that you might have in your project management system or in your bullet journal or your planner.
So look at your list, look at your task list and get really honest with yourself.
What are the things you have to do?
And maybe, you know, maybe you just don't need to answer emails that day. Maybe you do, but you probably don't.
So are there things that maybe were on your list that you can kind of just push off to tomorrow?
So go ahead and do that. Bump off what you can make the list of things that actually have to get done today.
There's deadlines, people are relying on you, you can't bump them. Prioritize through your must do list, however many tasks there are.
Now we know what you have to do today and we have a prioritized list of those tasks.
Step #5: Use the Pomodoro Technique
So number five is to use the Pomodoro Technique and take breaks.
I actually have a whole YouTube video on how to use the Pomodoro Technique that I will link below if you've never heard of it.
At a high level, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management strategy that allows you to get more work done in less time.
Isn't that the dream? Isn't that the dream come true?
I find that when I'm tired in particular and you know you're just sitting there, you're looking at your to do list that we just prioritized, and it may not even have that much stuff on it, but you're just like, wow, I really don't want to do any of this.
And it just feels like the hardest part is getting started. I have found that the Pomodoro technique is how to really easily overcome that.
You just set a timer for 25 minutes and you just start (here’s one that you can use right in your browser). You just do it and it's so much easier to be like, okay, well I'm just going to work for 25 minutes since I'm in do not disturb mode since I'm in focus mode like we talked about.
I'm not going to get distracted during those 25 minutes and I'm just going to knock out what I can. So do that.
Step number five is doing the pomodoro technique. Again, if you don't, if you want to know more about what that really means, be sure to check out that video and full blog post of mine with more instructions.
Definitely check that out if you need more info, but if you're familiar with it, then just use it.
Step #6: Knock Out As Many To Do’s as You Can Without Getting Stressed Out
Step number six is to just knock out as much of that work as you can without getting stressed out.
So I don't know about you, but sometimes when I'm just tired and there's so much to do, I just kind of like get in this really negative emotional cycle where I just like spend more time frustrated that I have to work when I don't want to.
And that's fine. I'm not saying ignore your emotions, but they're not helpful for you in this instance.
So try to identify when you're getting kind of worked up into that stressful or frustrated state of mind. Identify it, pause, take a deep breath, and then do something to chill out.
So maybe just doing a little meditation, doing a breathing exercise. Maybe you just need to go stand in the fresh air or get a new refill on your drink or stretch or my favorite, put on some Stevie Nicks and dance around for a few minutes. Whatever you need to do.
But don't just sit there in a state of stress when you're already tired. It's really just going to prolong how much longer you have to work before you can rest.
So it's not productive and it's just really gonna make you feel worse. So when you are feeling stressed, just identify what's going on. Pause, breathe and do something to chill out so that you can come back and not be stressed out.
Step #7: Cross of Your Must Do List. Then go REST.
Step number seven is to look at that prioritized list of must do tasks and just cross them off one by one as you get through them.
Steps one through six are really all about how to even get to this point where you're working, where you don't feel as terrible working, where it feels like a little bit more of an indulgent process.
But we're trying to be productive. We've got to get the stuff done.
So by the time you get one through six, hopefully step seven feels much easier and there's less resistance than it did before.
And the key here is that once you get through that list of must do items, stop what you're doing and go rest.
So especially if you work from home or you're an entrepreneur, a small business owner, if you can, stop what you're doing and go rest and don't even try to do anything else productive the rest of the day.
You did your must do items, you are done, go chill out, get a full night of sleep and hopefully you can feel better and more energized tomorrow.
So that is what I have been doing the past few days while I have been tired. It's exactly what I did today. I was recording this so I hope all of these tips where it's helpful to you as they were for me.
I do actually have a free download for you that if you are interested in having a more strategic plan for your day, whether it's a day that you're tired or a day that you're energized, I would love for you to go ahead and download my free Ideal Day Planner.
It's going to work you through the process of creating your ideal day so that you know exactly what you want to accomplish and tackle on an average day when you're feeling good so that when you are having a more tired day you can make little adjustments and still get the top priority stuff done.
So you can download that free Ideal Day Planner right now by clicking this link and you will get it straight to your inbox after you opt in. I hope you enjoy it!
If you find yourself using these tips when you're tired, I would love to hear from you on social media. My Instagram handle is @megan_minns.
And I will share your posts on Instagram stories if you tag me and that way I can share with the world what we're all doing to be more productive when we're tired.
Let me know in the comments if you’ll use any of these seven tips today!
Thank you for listening!
If you’d like to share your thoughts on this episode:
Leave a comment below this blog post.
Ask me a question or submit a guest request by filling out the form here.
Share your biggest takeaway on Instagram stories - just be sure to tag @megan_minns so I can see them!
If The Productive Life podcast has helped you at all, please take a minute to support the show by:
Leaving a review on iTunes - your reviews help spread the word about the podcast and I read each and every single one!