As I’m writing this, I’m recovering from an amazing business trip in California. The trip itself was a very busy, very productive, and very tiring experience – coupled with early mornings, late nights, and sixteen hours of running around having meetings on a crowded showroom floor. And then I caught a red-eye flight back to New York, because I needed to be back in the office Monday morning. And of course, I barely slept the whole trip back, trudging into the office on two hours’ rest.
It’s not easy.
Keeping focused and active at the office when you’re totally, one-hundred percent shot isn’t easy. A good night’s sleep is absolutely vital for keeping your head in the game. Getting the proper eight hours or so can improve your productivity, boost your creativity, and simply keep you happier and more upbeat during the day. The scientific benefits of being well-rested are hard to overemphasize.
But you’ve still gotta be at the office when you haven’t slept a wink, don’t you?
So here’s how to make sure you stay on task and get stuff done when the only thing you want to do is take a deep, deep nap.
- Dive in.
I know, I know. This is super hard. You’re dying to take a nap but all this stuff is in front of you and has to get done. And the thing is that the more you put it off, the more you have to do in less time. Which means that, hard as it is, the best thing to do is to start now; it’ll take less exertion and exhaust your diminished reserves less than stressing and procrastinating because you’re sleepy.
Then, once you’re in it, you’ll have an easier time going. You just have to force yourself over the hump and get going. And there’s no easy way to do that; it’s gonna suck. Let’s be straight about that. But hey, we’re all adults here. We know how to take our medicine.
So brace yourself, grit your teeth, and jump into the deep end while it’s early.
Either that, or it’ll engulf you.
- Build the Right To-Do List (in Advance if Possible)
I don’t know about you, but I schedule my tasks days in advance down to the minute. I allot a half hour for this, two hours for that, and I stick to it as much as I can. That’s a big help in keeping me productive when my eyes start to droop and my brain starts to power down because you’re committed to getting it done and you don’t have to worry about figuring out what the next thing is. Sometimes, all you have the energy for is mindlessly going down the list – but that’s better than being paralyzed with confusion.
If you can, try to stock this list with lower-priority, lower-intensity items so that you don’t overtax your fatigued brain; do you need to do email organization? Touch base with clients? Schedule meetings? Review existing work? If you have the ability to keep your load easy on days when you know you’ll be exhausted (i.e. after a red-eye plane ride), you can make sure stuff gets done and reserve your better days for higher-stress activities.
Coffee. Sugar. Caffeine pills. Straight up shotgunning Five-Hour Energy. Get some fuel in your body and ride that wave.
Look. Ideally you wanna eat natural energy-boosting snacks to get active. Fresh fruits, Cliff bars, stuff like that. But the fact is that that isn’t always an option, and anything is better than nothing here. Go get a banana if you can. But if you can’t, keeping a supply of caffeine pills and coffee handy will get you through to five o’clock.
We always recommend keeping healthy, and operating like this should never be a habit. Running like this long-term can pose serious health risks, and has limited effectiveness even on a single-day schedule; sugar and caffeine make you much more prone to crashing, which can spike your productivity entirely. If you can, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, or even go grab lunch at Chipotle or something for the fresh ingredients.
You’ll be glad you did.
- Have a Conversation About Literally Anything
We’re big believers in creative breaks here at Hudson Fusion. They improve your ability to do great work no matter where you are. And honestly, sometimes that’s not an option – but a good conversation is almost always a single desk away. So lift your head up, turn to your office mate, and chat about the latest episode of Stranger Things or, I don’t know, that amazing restaurant you went to in Los Angeles or how fantastic the view from the plane was.
A great conversation isn’t just a break. It keeps you active while giving your brain a rest from its task, and that helps you retain and bolster your ability to function as an adult human with a job. It’s an easy trick and it helps you to stay on task when you return to your flickering monitoring.
On the same note, taking a walk while having a conversation can also perk you up considerably.
In short, you can survive. It’s gonna be a rough road, but by taking some steps of basic self-care (or some emergency fueling up), you’ll get through the day so you can collapse at home in your nice, warm bed.