Staying awake in the workplace might be harder than you think. According to one survey, 76% of workers are tired at work. Fifty-three percent feel less productive. And 44% have trouble focusing. None of these statistics bode well for business.

In some industries, drifting off to sleep on the job is worse than accidentally typing a few random keys when your head hits your laptop. Some workers jeopardize theirs and others’ safety when they are too tired to focus or react.

So, how can you be productive in the workplace when all you really want to do is take a nap?

How to be productive when you’re exhausted

The majority of us are tired at work from time to time (or all of the time for some people). Why?

There are a number of reasons individuals are fatigued in the workplace, including poor sleep, nutrition, exercise, and work hours.

But when it comes to growing a business, the continued absence of productivity is unacceptable.

If you or your staff are exhausted at work, use these tips to pull it together.

1) Get to the root of your exhaustion

Why do you want to take a nap? Finding out why you’re so tired can help you pinpoint what you need to do to increase your productivity.

Some common reasons for fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Not enough food
  • High stress levels
  • Inconsistent sleeping schedule
  • Anxiety
  • Dehydration

If you’re able to get to the root of your exhaustion, you might be able to fix it without napping (e.g., drinking some water).

Plus, some studies show that napping for too long can actually make you more groggy and ruin your sleeping schedule.

2) Make a to-do list

Making a to-do list can help improve memory function. Not to mention, writing a to-do list helps you track the things you still need to do.

When all you want to do is nap, you may be more apt to forget some of your responsibilities.  Making a to-do list can help you if you’re easily distractable and unfocused.

Writing down the tasks you need to get done during the workday or week can also help you prioritize.

When you list out your responsibilities, you can have a gameplan even when you’re having trouble focusing.

3) Power through mindless tasks

Some responsibilities require you to use substantial brain power. Others are tedious and monotonous activities that might not need your full attention.

According to one study, 90% of workers have boring, repetitive tasks on their plate. And the best time to crank these out is when you’re unfocused.

Consider getting mindless tasks out of the way when you can’t focus. That way, you can still be productive while also eliminating some of your tedious responsibilities (think data entry).

4) Limit distractions

Distractions are a nuisance for anybody, even the most focused worker. Being tired can make your mind bounce around faster than a ball in a pinball machine.

When you want to take a nap, you might be drawn to mindlessly surfing the web, checking your phone, or doing other menial tasks that don’t require brain power.

Instead of falling into a distraction trap, limit your access. You may turn off phone notifications or have some self-control when it comes to going online.

5) Have some sustenance

It’s no secret that, for many people, caffeine is the key to waking up.

Drinks like coffee, tea, and caffeinated pop might be your go-to when you’re tired. But, they’re not the only sustenance you can turn to when your energy is low.

If you’re ready to take a nap, also consider increasing your water intake. Water is especially important when you’re chugging cup after cup of caffeinated goodness.

Some foods can also help you stay awake. Snacks like bananas, yogurt, nuts, and hummus might give you the energy you need to power through the day nap-free.  

6) Shake off some stress

Stress can be extremely damaging to your energy levels. If you’re stressed our anxious about work or non-work problems, you may find yourself wanting to crawl under your desk and take a nap.

37% of adults blame their fatigue on stress. Is stress the cause of your exhaustion?

You may need to evaluate your stress levels. Are you tired after a stressful meeting? Did you want to shut your eyes only after adding another project to your plate?

If your exhaustion stems from anxiety, deal with the stress head-on. Some tips for handling stress at work include identifying your stressors, creating a plan, and putting an end to multitasking.  

7) Crank up your music

If all you want to do is take a nap, it might be time to crank up your music. Music in the workplace can help boost productivity, especially when sleep is calling your name.

In one study, 65% of businesses thought music made them more productive.

Of course, different music genres have varying effects on productivity. And, music may even limit productivity for some workers. But one thing’s for certain—cranking up your music will help you stay awake.

Try out different genres to see which can help you stay awake and give productivity a boost.

8) Take a break and stretch

Prolonged slouching or physical inactivity is a surefire way for your energy levels to deplete.

Sometimes, improving productivity is as simple as taking a five-minute walk, doing desk exercises, or stretching.

If you’re worried about the few minutes you’ll lose out on while taking a break, think of it this way: You’ll get far more done when you come back refreshed and ready to work.

9) Prevent exhaustion in the first place

If you’re already at the point where you want to nap at work, this tip won’t immediately help you. But, it will be useful for tackling the next workday.

Preventing exhaustion before it consumes you at work is the best course of action for consistent productivity.

There are three popular ways to discourage fatigue before it damages your workplace:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Improve your diet
  • Start exercising more

Getting enough sleep is clearly an important part of preventing workplace exhaustion. But according to one study, one in three adults consistently don’t get enough sleep. Kick this bad habit to the curb by prioritizing sleep and getting at least 7 hours each night.

The food and drinks we consume also impact our energy levels at work. Depending on too much caffeine or intaking foods with low nutritional value can cause energy levels to rise and fall throughout the day.

Another way to prevent workplace exhaustion and boost productivity is to get physical activity throughout the week. Taking a 30-minute walk or doing an hour power yoga session can do wonders for your energy levels.    

10)Cut your losses and try again tomorrow

It might not be the most popular solution, but sometimes you need to just walk away. This is especially true if you’re exhausted because of working long hours.

At some point, you need to recognize that you or your employees are wasting valuable work time and call it a day. You might let employees use paid time off (PTO). Or, if an employee put in overtime throughout the week, encourage them to take some time to rest.  

Pushing yourself when the above tips don’t work is overkill. Be honest with yourself, your employees, and your business if you need to take a day off.

Written By
Rachel Blakely-Gray is a content writer at Patriot Software, LLC. Patriot Software offers online accounting and payroll software for small business owners. At Patriot, Rachel enjoys providing actionable, growth-oriented content.

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