This post is inspired by my current situation. I’m really tired and feeling unproductive. I feel like I’m too tired to get anything done, but I have a long list of things I need to do around the house, for myself, and for my job. This has inspired this post so I can at least be productive with my job.
At the time of this writing, it’s January 4th. On the first two nights of January, I had a crazy amount of insomnia. It took hours to fall asleep and when I did fall asleep, I had nightmares and woke frequently.
Luckily last night I slept well. I think it’s because I didn’t have to go to my day job today so my anxiety wasn’t so bad. Bad news for me is that I was trying to get back on my regular sleep schedule that I disrupted over the holiday break. I’m sure you’ve been there.
To get back on track I woke up at 6:30 am today. I should have given myself another hour or so to really catch up on lost sleep because here I am, it’s noon and I’ve needed to drink a RedBull to not pass out writing this post.
That said, there are other ways to start getting things done when you’re really tired that don’t involve heavy caffeine since too much will make it even worse.
A number of the things on this list I did before writing this post and some I plan to do after so I can get more productive things done around the house. I hope some of these tips help you.
1. Set an Alarm
One of the things I like to do is to give myself a “prep” period by seeing what time it is and then giving myself until a certain time to relax. (Which I did before this post)
You don’t necessarily have to set the alarm if you’re good at staying on track, but if you’re playing around online or watching shows the time is going to fly by.
I recommend setting an alarm for a specific time and once that alarm goes off you need to start getting things done no matter how tired you are. Don’t worry about getting everything done all at once.
In another tip, I give ways to ease into your tasks to help you be more productive without overloading yourself.
2. Take a Shower
This is a favorite and it also works if you had a little too much to drink the night before too. When I’m feeling lazy and unproductive, a short 5-10 minute shower can really perk me up. You can even combine this with tip 9: listening to upbeat music.
Don’t take too long in the shower or you’ll potentially make yourself even more tired. Keep the water at a warm or even a little cold and not too hot temperature because again, nice hot long showers can cause more fatigue and then you won’t want to get anything done other than lay in your bed watching Netflix. And yes, I am guilty of this. A short, warm shower will do the trick.
3. Watch Your Caffeine Intake
OK, so I admitted to you that I have a RedBull while writing this post. I would generally advise against this, but I was so exhausted I wasn’t getting anything done and was nearly falling asleep.
On the flip side, if you have too much, and this has happened to me before, the caffeine overload will make you even more tired.
Yet even worse, if you do try to take a nap the caffeine won’t let you and then you’re worse off than you were before. So do yourself a favor and limit your caffeine to a healthy level. Only you will know your caffeine intake limits though.
4. Do Some Self Care
This is something I struggled with for a long time but it’s made a lot of difference for me. The more I’m stressed, the more unproductive and tired I am.
Now I’m finding ways, even small ones, to do some self-care to relieve the stress and get things done.
This could be things like doing your nails, taking a bubble bath (after you’ve been productive), listening to good music, journaling, working out, getting a massage, reading a book, etc. The list is long.
Try to do these things throughout the week and generally after you’ve been productive and gotten your things done. Some can be done before to reenergize you like the music which is another tip on my list. Make sure to incorporate some self-care into your weekly routine.
If you want to get things done when you’re really tired, it’s going to be harder for you if you’re also stressed. If you need to do self-care before your tasks, do something small like listening to a podcast, music, or even dance around your room a bit.
Get those endorphins up. Even painting your nails or washing your face with your favorite cleanser can make a surprising difference.
5. Start Small
OK, so now that RedBull is finally starting to kick in. What I did today to get started getting things done when tired is to start small. Step one: open my laptop.
Second: pick a topic to write about (luckily I was inspired by my own tiredness).
Step three: write an outline. Step four: Write an intro. At this point, I got into a groove and the words started spilling out. This can work for anything.
One thing I really hate to do, especially when tired, is cleaning the house. It’s overwhelming and I never know where to start. What I do is to find something small that I could accomplish quickly and easily for a small win.
Unloading the dishwasher usually makes the list. Then once it’s unloaded it makes sense to reload it. Then I clean the counters.
It starts small and then starts building. Soon you’ll be in a groove and may forget how tired you are. Even if you can’t get everything done, getting a few tasks off your plate is an accomplishment and makes your job later easier. Find some small things to do to be productive.
6. Make a Checklist
Once you’ve started off small, it can be helpful to write a checklist. Write down all the small tasks that you need to do today. While some say to start with the large tasks if you’re trying to get things done when your exhausted, this can feel impossible.
Instead, sometimes I will start with the really tiny tasks. It’s really satisfying to start checking things off your list. You’ll also feel more accomplished.
Even if you didn’t get the 1 big thing you needed to do, you did a bunch of other tasks you no longer have to do tomorrow. You may also be less tired tomorrow and so more prepared to tackle the big task. Use those checklists.
Pick something small and easy on the list and get it done. Put laundry in the wash? Check. Moved it over to the dryer? Check. Folded? Maybe tomorrow…. You get the picture.
What small thing on your checklist can you get done no matter how tired you are? Go do it.
7. Divide up the Tasks
Similar to starting small and making a checklist, divide up your larger tasks into smaller more manageable things. Even what could be done easily on your regular task list may need to be divided up if you’re really tired. For example, cleaning when you’re super tired can be difficult.
Normally I can clean my room in one go but when I’m really tired it may require breaks. I will divide up the room into sections, and do one section at a time.
Or if I have a bit more energy but cleaning the whole house is too much, I’ll do one room at a time and watch an episode of my show in between.
Maybe this makes cleaning take longer than it should, but when I’m that exhausted it’s hard doing it in general so as long as it eventually gets done, I deserve the reward. This brings me to my next tip.
8. Pick Rewards
I’d like to say that productivity is its own reward, and maybe for some it is, but for myself and may others an extra incentive is a great motivator. Depending on what things you need to work on your rewards can be small or large.
Writing this post I gave myself a Hershey Kiss when I got half done and will have another when I finish. When I finish cleaning a small binge of Netflix is in order.
If you’re super tired all weekend and getting things was difficult, take a nice long bubble bath with a glass of wine (or two). There are no restrictions on your rewards, just don’t cheat and give yourself the rewards before you actually get things done.
9. Listen to Upbeat Music
I briefly mentioned this before, but listening to your favorite upbeat music can really alter your energy. I can be really tired and then put on certain music and I’ll want to start dancing around the room.
This works even for not fully upbeat music and songs from my favorite musicals or musical episodes of shows. I really get into it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started dancing around to the songs from Once Upon a Time’s musical episode.
Luckily my husband has yet to catch the dancing but he still gives me looks and says “you’re listening to this, again?!”. Hey, it helps me actually clean the house so I say I can listen as much as I want.
Get your energy up. Dance and sing if you want. It may take a few songs, but once you get energized it’s contagious and can make some of your tasks easier to complete.
10. Get Active
This tip can involve dancing to the music you’re listening to, but it can also be something else. Maybe going for a walk or jog around the blog energizes you or maybe you like lifting weights for energy.
I really want to get back into yoga, but I’m going to use it as a reward instead of the energizer. For me, I try to do a short weight lifting workout first thing and that has been giving me more energy.
I know when you’re already tired and struggling to get things done it can be hard to work out. Start making it a daily habit even if it’s 10 minutes a day. After a week or so you’ll start to notice a bit more energy. Keep going with it.
It was surprising to me that it helped my energy, especially since I wake up at 5 am to do it. I hate waking up that early and am so tired but by the end, I’m pumped up. Find little exercises or physical activities that energize you.
11. Find an Accountability Partner
This is another great tip if there are certain tasks you really neglect when you’re tired. If you’re supposed to be working out but you’re too tired, then call or text your accountability partner. Check-in back and forth.
This could also be done with your friends who you know neglect the laundry, household tasks, or errands too when they’re too tired to get things done.
Figure out a system. A text, call, or another form of communication halfway during the day or at certain points can do the trick.
I have my own accountability partner for my blog. We make sure we are both putting in the work, but we may be extending this to other productive things in our lives as well.
You can have one accountability partner for it all or you can have multiple. You can even use Facebook groups for this. Don’t forget your weekly or daily check-ins depending on how you want to go about it.
12. Give Yourself Grace
When you’re too tired to get anything done, this could be a signal that you’re body and mind are just completely overworked and need a break. If it’s just too much to do anything, even the small stuff, then you probably need a break.
While the other tips are about giving yourself a productive push, sometimes you just need to take time for yourself and give yourself some grace. This is the perfect time to do some of the self-care I mentioned before. Find ways to relax your mind and your body.
Meditate, do some yoga, take a hot bubble bath, get a massage, take a nice long nap, etc. It’s OK to need a break. If you push too hard you can overexert yourself. Give yourself some proper rest and relaxation and then get back on track afterward.
13. Set a Timer
Similar to setting the alarm before you jump into your tasks, setting a timer for your tasks can help you be more productive. If you’re struggling to start, set a timer for 10 minutes. See what you can get done in those 10 minutes despite your fatigue. I bet you’ll get more done than you expected because you’re on a time crunch.
You may even surprise yourself by getting absorbed into the task and wanting to set the timer longer. This often happens to me. I set the timer for 10 minutes but end up working for an hour. On the other hand, if you’re just too tired to keep working, there’s no shame.
You’ve got your 10 minutes done and you should be happy with your efforts. Give yourself a little break. You can always set the timer for another 10 minutes to try another task or keep going on what you were working on.
Combine this with the small tasks and checklists and I bet you’ll get more done than you think you will.
Final Thoughts on Getting Things Done When You’re Tired
I hope all these tips for getting things done when you’re really tired have helped you realize that you can still be productive and accomplish things, you may just need to trick yourself into doing them. Don’t worry if you don’t get everything done or if you need to take breaks. Give yourself some grace.
If you run yourself ragged, you’ll be worse off than when you started and then you may lose days or weeks of productivity. This has happened to me before. Actually, this happened right before the Holiday break.
I was running on fumes, not doing my self-care, and when the break started I mentally and physically crashed. I wasn’t productive for the first half of the break at least but then I finally started getting things done again using the tips above.
Unfortunately, I was a lot less productive than I could have been if I had followed these tips prior to the break.
So use these ideas and take care of yourself. Some of these ideas may work for you better than others. Test them out and see what works for you.
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