How to have a good day at work even if you’re tired?

February 3, 2020

Not having the perfect day at work? Feeling tired or exhausted? I’ve certainly had those days. Maybe you slept poorly. Or you had the flu and are still recovering. Perhaps you’ve had too much on your plate lately and have been working too hard. There are many reasons why we can’t always work at peak performance. We’re not machines, after all.

You might start to feel like it's going to be a bad day if you're feeling tired or a bit exhausted. Don't worry! You can still turn it around. You can compensate for the lack of energy and stay engaged with your work. Try the following self management tips to make your day count.

Select clear and achievable goals

It’s curious how we expect to get as much and as fast done tired as when we’re full of energy. We keep our expectations too high. It can be hard to accept that we’re not at our best. We end up feeling like we can’t get anything done and even simple tasks can become daunting.

Start your day by setting clear, achievable goals. This first tip is all about preventing the feeling of inadequacy or becoming overwhelmed.

  1. Acknowledge that you are lacking some energy. Accept that you might not be as fast or as creative as usual.

  2. Choose your goals for the day. Only commit to 1–3 important goals or tasks. Try starting with only one goal. Less is more when you’re working with limited personal resources.

  3. You may be unable to pursue certain goals today. Adapt the goals to your situation.  Choose other important goals or look for new ones that are achievable. Don’t select goals that would be tough to achieve even on a good day.

  4. Stick to the goals for the rest of the day.

You can use your preferred way of organising the goals or tasks. I use a daily to-do list where I limit the number of tasks to three at most. If I then finish the tasks before the end of the day, I make a new to-do list for the rest of that day.

Focus your energy on your selected goals

We tend to lose our focus more easily when we are tired. You might end up working on multiple tasks switching back and forth between them. At the end of the day, you are left with a number of unfinished tasks. You feel like you’ve achieved nothing.

Multitasking can disrupt your flow at work even on a good day. Not fully charged? You should definitely focus your energy on the most important goals or tasks.

  1. As you now have your goals for the day, it is time to start working on them.

  2. Focus your time and energy on only your chosen goals. This is how you can maximize your chances of getting things done.

  3. Focus on one goal at a time. Forget the others for now. While you’re working on your first task, don’t even look at your list of goals or tasks. Don’t switch between tasks. Seriously.

  4. Try to keep working on it until you succeed or finish the task.

Find ways to overcome obstacles

You might get stuck even if you’re fully focused on a goal that is important and achievable. Don’t blame yourself. Some things require more capacity than you may have when tired. Try to find alternative ways to achieve the results you want. Could you compensate for the lack of brain power, for example? A bit of creativity might be needed, but the answers can be quite simple.

  1. Think of what new or unused resources you might have that you haven’t yet tapped into? These might be internal or external resources.

  2. Look at how others have succeeded in similar tasks. Ask for help, ideas, or advice from your colleagues. Google for inspiration.

  3. Try to be open and creative in finding alternative solutions or means to compensate for any shortages of your personal resources. Don’t try to push forward alone if you could get even a little boost from somebody else.

I have personally found that if I get stuck with a difficult or demanding task talking with a colleague about it can help. Often I figure out how to proceed right after I’ve explained the problem to someone else.

I hope you can make the best of your day!

According to research, self management tactics can help improve people's workdays. The tactics I shared above are about selecting realistic goals or tasks for the day, adapting the goals to your situation and available resources, focusing your time and energy on only a few goals and only one at a time, and finding ways to compensate if you otherwise would get stuck.

If you’d like to learn more self management strategies or how to lead your own well-being and work better, check out our other blogs and our Emooter app!

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