Maybe your infant was up all night wailing, but you still have to survive a full day at the office. Or maybe you're trying to balance night classes on top of an already-full schedule. Whatever the case, when work, school, and family obligations collide, sleep is often the first victim. But some days you simply have to get a lot done on very little sleep. If you're facing this unenviable dilemma, there are tips to stay awake and actually be productive to help you out. Yes, you can get stuff done even when your brain is still a million miles away.
Fortunately, the steps you can take to improve your productivity are by and large pretty simple. By drinking loads of water and getting at least a few minutes of sunshine, you can shake the cobwebs out of your head and focus on whatever task you need to power through. As long as this isn't a habitual cycle of sleeplessness and strained focus, you can usually get by with a day or two of less-than-stellar rest and still maintain the brain power to do your adult duties. Try these tips out the next time you're feeling a bit worn but still need to get stuff done.
1. Walk It Out
Sure, a nice afternoon jog around the block would revive anyone. But if you can't escape your work for that long, any movement is better than sitting still. As noted in Greatist, trying a walking meeting or even just stepping out for five minutes to walk down the street can help revive your flagging energy levels. You should have a clearer head when you try to get back to work.
2. Take A Power Nap
If you can't beat the sleepiness, sometimes it's best to give in for a moment. According to WebMD, taking a 20 to 30 minute power nap can help you perk up without falling into a deep sleep. Sometimes, you just need to turn off your brain for a few moments. Even if it does take a little time out of your schedule, often 40 minutes of focused work is better than an hour of fuzzy-brained struggling.
3. Drink Coffee
Sure, it may be an obvious choice, but coffee freaking works. According to WebMD, taking in 100 to 200 milligrams of caffeine (about the serving of a five to 10 ounce cup of coffee) can give you a serious boost of alertness. What's more, the elevated alertness can last for around four hours.
4. Go Outside
OK, so this may not be the best advice if it's 2:00 a.m. and storming out. But if you're dragging in your office mid-afternoon, head out for a quick burst of sunshine. As noted in Lifehacker, even a few minutes of sunlight can mean a brighter mood and more energy, as well as some vitamin D if you're out long enough. Plus, the mini-break can help you recharge from whatever project is demanding your attention at the moment.
5. Say No
Do you tend to pile on too many responsibilities? Respect the power of no. When you really need to get through one particular task, Forbes suggested you focus in on what you want to get done and let everything else slide. And don't take on additional, unnecessary tasks just because someone asks. Sometimes productivity means you have to let those less-important jobs take a back seat.
6. Avoid Your Phone
The cracked little screen of your phone is sometimes entirely too enticing. But if you take a note from Buzzfeed and turn off your phone, then chances are you'll be far more productive. You can always reward yourself with some quality app time once you've gotten through this current project.
7. Turn Off The News
With the advent of the 24-hour news cycle, it can feel like keeping up with current events in real time is your duty as a citizen of the world. It isn't. As noted by the Huffington Post, ignoring the news throughout the day can drastically improve your productivity. Not only will you get those minutes back throughout the day, but you can also avoid the mental fatigue of soaking up so much negativity and needless drama. You can catch up on current events at some later point in the day, once your work is done.
8. Drink Up
If there's one major health trend to come out in recent years, water would be it. But all the buzz about H20 is not mere hype. As noted in Psychology Today, drinking enough water may have an impact on your mental faculties. So drink up when you need to get your gray matter in gear. (Plus, all those inevitable bathroom trips will help you stay awake).
9. Chew Some Gum
Chew that nervous energy right out of your system. The act of chewing gum may help stimulate the trigeminal nerve and keep you more awake, as noted in Reader's Digest. Plus, it's a little treat you can enjoy while working.
10. Play Upbeat Music
Some people can get distracted by any sounds, but others focus better with some fun instrumental music in the background. If you're in the second category, then go ahead and fire up that jazz or big band music. According to Lifehack, it's even OK to hum or sing along, as long as you keep on working. Whatever keeps you awake and moving is a good choice.
11. Compliment Someone
This is the nicest productivity tip of all. According to Real Simple, paying someone a genuine compliment can help boost the compliment-giver's productivity. Making someone else smile may help trigger your own brain's reward centers and help you get more done.