How to Stay Productive When You’re Tired

Productivity is naturally tied to your exhaustion level. You work best when you’re well-rested and had a good night’s sleep, and a nice meal, and a post-lunch coffee, too. So what happens when you’re nearing the end of the day and still have a lot of work to get through, and the only thing you can think about is how comfortable and warm your bed is going to be when you get to it? The quality of your work suffers, that’s what.

So how do you keep being productive even when you’re tired?

Make a To-do List

Making a list of all the things you need to accomplish is the first step to focusing yourself on the task at hand. First, list everything you need to do. Then arrange the list so that for every large task you complete, you complete two smaller ones. This is a good way to keep yourself motivated as you work your way through the list.

Remember, all goals must be clearly defined to be achievable.

Listen to Some Music

You can’t feel sleepy when you’ve got hot jams coming out of your headphones. And with fewer distractions to break your concentration, you’ll be done with your work even faster.

Check out our series of posts with music you can be productive to.

Take a Minute to Exercise

Some physical activity can provide a much needed adrenaline boost that will give you some energy. No need to over-exert yourself, just some light jumping jacks will do to get some blood rushing and clear that fog in your head. Even a short walk will do you better than sitting in one spot.

Free Yourself From Distractions

When you’re tired and unfocused, you’re especially prone to distractions and mindless clicking on social media. Write! already provides a great space for distraction-free writing, so fullscreen it and get some work done instead of refreshing that Reddit page again.

If you haven’t muted your phone yet, now is a good time to do that, too.

Don’t Drink Coffee

Counterintuitive as it may seem, coffee is a bad choice, especially if you need to keep working for longer than an hour. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and the energy boost that you get from a double espresso will crash you just as hard, leaving you more exhausted than you were before.

For an alternative, try green tea. It still has caffeine — less than a cup of joe — and that small amount will keep you on a constant dole and help out with feeling tired.

Check if You’ve Eaten Something Lately

Are you so focused on doing all the work you need to do that you forget to eat? Or maybe you keep putting off a meal to do “just one more task”. In either case, it’s a bad idea. When you forgo a meal in favor of work, your energy levels dip, and as a result, your overall productivity suffers.

Go for a quick snack. Choose something healthy and light, like an apple or a breakfast bar. Don’t eat something with lots of sugar, though, because you’re risking the same crash as from coffee.

Set Up a Reward at the Finish Line

Treats-as-rewards work for pets, and they’ll work for you, too. Think up a small prize you’ll give yourself for completing each item on your to-do list to keep yourself motivated. It can be anything you like: 10 minutes on Facebook, a chocolate bar, or whatever else will keep you going.


All in all, the best thing you can do to keep being productive is dissecting your process, and eliminating everything that makes you lose steam. That is, if you constantly find your productivity lacking because you don’t get enough sleep, or are too stressed, you need to fix the underlying cause, instead of battling the symptoms.

Read this article published via Write!.

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Laconic Lemming
Content crafter at Write!, spends all his time writing or learning how to write better. A few time was caught reading The New York Times and watching TED talks during working hours.
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  • Thanks for sharing great tips.

    • Laureano, you are welcome! 🙂

  • Really great post. Keep doing a great job!

    • Thanks, Herczeg!

  • Interesting article! Thank you for sharing them! I hope you will continue to have similar posts to share with everyone! I believe a lot of people will be surprised to read this article!

    • Great to hear that you like the article! we will do our best to bring the best of the best quality content.

  • Coffee is actually great. Until your caffeine tolerance reaches max level, that is. It’s redbulls for me, I guess.

    • Coffee is always a good way for coffee lovers.

  • Making a to-do list is good advice, but then I end up procrastinating that, too, ugh