How to Stay Focused at Work When You're Tired [5 Tips!]

Last Updated: 

October 17, 2022

How to Stay Focused at Work When You're Tired [5 Tips!]
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Maybe your dog just wouldn’t stop barking. Maybe you had one too many drinks with dinner. Maybe your toddler had a cold and kept you up all night.

Whatever the reason may be, we all have days when we just don’t get a good night’s sleep. And when you have to go to work and function the next morning, it can be downright painful.

Sure, reaching for a cup of coffee may seem like the perfect pick-me-up, but there are better ways to get through the day.

Here are five things you can do to stay focused at work when you’re tired.

1. Splash Yourself With Cold Water

Splashing your face with cold water actually works. So, head to the office restroom, run your hands under the cold faucet, and splash some agua on your face.

Will it mess up your makeup? Maybe. But you’ll instantly feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to get back to work.

If you work from home, there are even better ways to wake yourself up with water.

Taking a quick, cold shower is a great way to refresh your brain and feel more energised. You can also fill a bucket with cold water and stand in it with your bare feet for a few seconds. Either method will definitely wake you up!

Make sure to drink plenty of water, too. Being dehydrated will only make you more tired and make it harder to concentrate.

2. Set a Clear Goal

It’s easier to focus when you have one specific goal in mind. Before you start your workday, identify the most important thing you need to do and work only on that.

If the one thing you have to do is a massive project that requires lots of concentration, you can get through it just by breaking that big project down into a series of smaller, easier tasks.

By breaking a big task down into little parts, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and have a better chance of getting things done. When you’re sleepy and aren’t working to your full potential, it’s all about taking little baby steps.

3. Move Around

When you need an instant energy boost, you need to get up and move.

Stand up. Stretch your body. Get out of your desk chair and walk down the hall or up and down a flight of steps. Even small amounts of exercise will send oxygen to your brain, and that will give you the quick energy boost you need.

It’s even better if you can do a bit of walking outside. Why? Because sunlight boosts your serotonin levels, and when your serotonin levels are where they should be, it’s easier to focus.

Sitting and slumping in your office chair will do nothing to boost your mood or give you the energy you need to get through the day. If there’s a way that you can stand while you work, do it!

Standing also sharpens your attention, making it easier to focus on whatever it is you need to get done.

4. Take a Few Deep Breaths

We often associate deep breathing techniques with meditation and relaxation. And that’s the opposite of what you want to do if you’re feeling sluggish and unfocused.

But a few deep breaths will also help you focus your mind and improve concentration.

Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. If you do it properly, your brain will start to focus on taking those breaths. And when you’re done, your brain will be better able to focus on other things as well.

5. Eliminate All Distractions

Eliminating distractions is key to having a productive workday, even when you’re at the top of your game and functioning at peak levels. But when you’re tired, it’s an absolute must.

Avoid checking your email every five minutes. By avoiding your inbox, you won’t be distracted by unimportant messages or waste time responding to items that don’t even require a reply. Now is not the time to waste ten minutes thinking of a clever response.

Put your phone away. If you start scrolling through Twitter or FB posts, you’ll only sink into more of a slump!

If you can, unplug entirely and avoid all digital distractions and external factors. We love our tech, but it has a way of pulling our focus away. And when you’re tired and sluggish, that’s the last thing you need.

What NOT To Do When You’re Tired at Work

Knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do. There are a few things that may seem helpful in the moment but will actually derail your plans for the entire day.

Procrastination is not your friend. Do not put off important work early in the day by trying to convince yourself that you’ll get it done later in the afternoon. You won’t. Instead, tackle the important tasks early so your day eases up as the hours tick by.

Avoid sugar. It can be tempting to reach for a sugary snack or a cup of coffee to give you a quick energy boost. But sugary foods and drinks will only make you crash later.

Instead of inhaling a handful of M&Ms, grab a healthy snack, like a granola bar made with whole grains.


Work can be hard enough when you’re feeling great, but when you’re tired, it can be downright awful. The next time you’re sleepy and need to find your focus, here’s what to do:

  • Splash your face with cold water.
  • Set a specific goal, and break big tasks down into smaller steps.
  • Move around, stretch, and take a quick walk for exercise.
  • Take deep breaths to improve your concentration.
  • Eliminate distractions, including your inbox, phone, and social media.

And when the day is done and it’s time to go home, reward yourself with a solid eight hours of sleep!

Author Bio:

Angus Flynn is the business manager for Village Greens of Queen Creek. He loves to help others and takes great pride in working in a community that so many love to call home.

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

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