Update 1st Feb 2020

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Whilst any productivity expert worth their salt will implore you to never work tired, there are always times when you simply have no other choice. Working away on a customer site, an urgent deadline, or when you just generally feel under the weather but don’t have any sick leave are all fairly common occurrences. What we need to do is come up with a few little things that you can put into practice so that when you’re low on energy, you can still get the job done.

Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

Perhaps the most important thing about working when you’re tired is that you need to manage your expectations. If you want to be able to work when you’re tired then you must avoid setting the bar unrealistically high. Clearly you’re not going to be able to match the prodigious output you manage when you’re happy and rested, so don’t even try.

Set a realistic goal that will get things moving along so that you can put the wheels in motion and get yourself off to a great start.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

No matter how much work you have to do (the chances are quite a lot because you’re burning the midnight oil) the important thing is to take things one step at a time. If you can start off with a small easy task it will give you the confidence that you can keep going and churn through a whole host of other things.

Don’t look too far ahead, don’t start racing ahead when you get a second wind, just keep plodding along at a steady rate and you’ll be all the better for it. If you want to be able to get through a pile of work when you’d rather be in bed it’s all about managing your efforts and accepting that you can’t work as intensively as you normally can.

Give Yourself a Reward

Having a big goal to shoot for is great, but it’s never as motivating in the short term as having a carrot dangling there. This approach is particularly important if you’re working late or unsociable hours when your colleagues are already tucked up warm in bed. You could say that if you keep your head down for 4 hours you’ll take a late night stroll in the park, phone in a pizza, or watch a quick bit of YouTube.

You know you, so the choice is yours but keep it to things that are either going to get you moving, laughing, or eating. Don’t have a nap otherwise you’ll wake up more tired than when you went to sleep.

Is Working Tired the Norm?

For many of us it is, but it shouldn’t be. You’ll have seen Tesla’s share price drop recently when its CEO admitted to 120 hour weeks and using sedatives to get to sleep. Whilst his output is prodigious there’s little doubting that the work-life balance is out of kilter there.

Take plenty of time to rest after your enforced period of working tired, and whenever possible take steps to ensure that working tired is the exception, not the rule. 

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