We’ve all been in a situation where we had a lot of work to do and not enough energy to do it. Whether it’s college papers or projects at work, sometimes you just have to trudge on through and get things done for a deadline even if it kills you. Here are a few quick tips and ideas to maintain your energy levels and power through those projects like a champ.
This is a fairly obvious tip and one that a lot of gurus are already promoting, so I won’t stay on this one for long. Sometimes all you need is a glass of water to get rehydrated, and you’ll feel much more awake. If you often get too busy and forget to have a few glasses of water throughout the day, set a reminder on your phone or smartwatch to keep yourself hydrated.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule
Being mindful of your circadian rhythm can make a big difference in how you feel throughout the entire day. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, and try to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Make bed time non-negotiable, and do whatever you have to do to make yourself get up in the morning. If you have a hard time getting out of bed on time, Jocko Willink has some brilliant ideas for making yourself get up.
Sleep is a very deep topic to study, and everyone is unique. At the end of the day though, we all need enough sleep to stay healthy and function at our best. If you’re interested in digging deeper into the importance of sleep, I recommend the book Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD.
Make bed time non-negotiable, and do whatever you have to do to make yourself get up in the morning.Tweet
If you’re the type to get intensely focused on your work, you might tend to skip meals. As tempting as it might be, don’t skip breakfast in the morning or cut corners by eating junk food like Pop-tarts or donuts. Sugary foods will only give you a temporary boost that will be gone as quick as it came. Eat healthy, and eat regularly to maintain your energy levels throughout the day.
Don’t eat anything
This point might sound like the exact opposite of what I just mentioned, but hear me out. You can still eat, but it might be a good idea to put off your meals or rearrange your schedule. We all know that feeling of lethargy and sleepiness after a big meal. The digestive process can sap a lot of energy and leave you feeling lethargic for a while, especially if you eat something heavy and unhealthy. Eat light, healthy meals that are easy to digest to avoid feeling bloated and sleepy.
If you’re already eating healthy but still feeling sleepy after your meals, consider changing up your schedule so that your meal times don’t come before or in the middle of working hours. Some people even find intermittent fasting routines helpful for avoiding eating during work hours.
And of course (as common sense hopefully tells you already) you should always consult your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet.
A change of scenery
It can be hard to stay focused in certain environments. If you’re working at home, you might be distracted by all the chores you need to get done around the house or all the mediums of entertainment at your disposal. If you’re at your work office, your coworkers might keep stepping in for small talk. Whatever distractions you face, sometimes the best way to make yourself get something done is just to do your work somewhere else where you don’t have anything else competing for your attention. Work in a place that is dedicated to productivity, such as a library or study center. Go to a café where you have nothing else to do and no friends around to talk to. Everyone has different preferences and pet peeves, so find a place that works for you and makes it easy to stay focused on the work at hand.
Get some sunlight
Sunlight plays a significant role in our sleep cycle. It’s one of the cues that helps our bodies know when it’s time to be awake and when it’s time to start winding down for the day. Wake yourself up by getting some direct exposure to sunlight in the morning. If you can, do your work outside or next to an open window to allow for direct sunlight exposure. Even a quick fifteen-minute walk during lunch break can help you feel much more awake and energized after being cooped up inside all morning.
Regular exercise can be beneficial for lots of reasons. If you have a hard time falling asleep at night, going to the gym might help exhaust you enough to fall asleep at a decent hour. If you feel groggy in the morning, an early workout can get your blood pumping and help you feel alert and energized.
In addition to your regular exercise routine, some brief physical activity when you’re feeling sleepy or lethargic during the day can help clear your head and get you reenergized. A short walk outside might help you brush off that afternoon grogginess at work. And if you’re really getting sleepy, an intense set or two of burpees or jumping jacks will wake you right up. You’ll almost never be so tired that some burpees can’t wake you up!
You’ll almost never be so tired that some burpees can’t wake you up!Tweet
Take a nap
If your schedule and environment allow, a quick power nap can give you a great energy boost to get through the rest of your day. A nap cannot replace a proper sleep schedule, but it can be a great compliment to one, or at least help you power through a temporary lack of sleep for a big project. For more information on the art of napping, I recommend this article from The Art of Manliness.
Use coffee for a temporary boost
As you may have read in this previous post about coffee, caffeine is usually not a great idea. However, it might be useful as a temporary boost in particularly demanding circumstances. If you’re going all out for a few days to finish a big project or burning the midnight oil to meet a deadline, caffeine might be useful to keep yourself going for those last few hours before you inevitably crash. Used in conjunction with a power nap, caffeine can be used for a strong temporary energy boost. Simply chug a cup of coffee and immediately crash for a brief power nap. When you wake up in twenty minutes or so, you will not only be reenergized from the nap, but the caffeine should also be kicking in for an extra boost. Caffeine is not a good long-term solution, but it can be very effective when used strategically.
Try the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo. It is designed to help you get work done in short stages or bursts of productivity followed by short periods of rest. To use the Pomodoro Technique, set a timer for twenty-five minutes. During those twenty-five minutes, get as much work done as you possibly can. When the twenty-five minutes of work is over, you get five minutes to rest and do whatever you want. After five minutes of rest, set the timer for another twenty-five minutes of work, and repeat the process as necessary. Every four cycles you’re free to take a longer fifteen- to thirty-minute break.
You might find setting a short timer and knowing that there is an end in sight very motivating. Or you might find that you just needed the timer to get yourself started and find a break completely unnecessary once you get the ball rolling. Experiment with different lengths of time to find a cycle that helps you get the most done.
You probably noticed that a lot of maintaining energy levels comes down to being healthy and consistent in day-to-day life. Eating healthy, sleeping on time, and exercising regularly are important to just about every aspect of life. However, there are times when even the healthiest among us have to rely on a few life hacks to power through projects in trying circumstances. Stay healthy and hack wisely!