It’s only natural to get into a food coma after you’ve eaten your lunch. However, do you often find yourself losing focus? Instead of feeling energized after taking a break, you end up feeling tired of working.
Work fatigue goes beyond physical exhaustion—it’s being mentally drained.
When this happens, your energy levels drop along with your motivation to be productive. Anyone can experience workplace fatigue. According to a 2018 National Safety Council report, 69% of U.S. employees are tired of working.
If neglected, workplace fatigue can last for several days or weeks. It can even lead to burnout, anxiety, and depression.
So, before the feelings of tiredness become worse, you should take action. Let’s look at what’s causing work fatigue and what you can do to stop it.
Am I Tired of Working?
Before we go into the solutions, let’s determine if what you’re feeling is workplace fatigue. According to a study from the State University of New York at Buffalo, work fatigue comes with extreme tiredness. A person experiencing it also exhibits lower functional capacity throughout the workday.
Even with enough sleep and rest, the person still experiences a combination of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. Various stressors can cause you to get tired of working. However, these negative feelings were aggravated by the pandemic.
According to Spring Health’s 2020 Burnout Nation report, 76% of U.S. employees experienced burnout during the height of the pandemic. 57% said that worries about health and COVID-19 contributed to this problem. What’s more, 33% said that political problems caused burnout.
How Can Simple Tiredness Lead to Work Fatigue?
There isn’t sufficient scientific research to explain why having a desk job causes extreme fatigue. However, several factors can come into play in this situation.
For example, because of the pandemic, the nature of work has become more dynamic. Because our daily schedules have been constantly redefined, it has become even more challenging to re-energize during our days off.
A report from the International Labor Organization revealed that the average American works 137 hours more than a Japanese employee in a year. Now, compared to an average French employee, a U.S. worker logs almost 500 hours more annually. Americans are among the most overworked employees in the world.
Remote work has also contributed to the change. It is true that the setup boosted productivity among many people. However, studies have shown that these employees are more likely to log extra hours. They may even forgo their days off. Because of flexible work conditions, it has become more challenging to keep a healthy work-life balance.
Now, we’re not saying that the current work culture is the only thing that’s causing extreme fatigue. In reality, several factors contribute to our daily tiredness. Here are just some:
Poor or Inadequate Sleep
One of the reasons why employees get tired of working is because they lack sleep. According to the National Safety Council, around 38% of U.S. employees are sleep-deprived. The situation has gotten so bad that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared it a “public health epidemic”.
Most of the time, flexible work schedules force people to neglect their regular sleeping patterns. In fact, more than 43% of employees say that they constantly feel sleep-deprived.
Getting one or two nights of good sleep will fix the problem when you’re experiencing basic tiredness. However, if the problem has developed to work fatigue, then no amount of sleep can make you feel better.
Not Enough Rest or Break
According to the Digital 2022 Global Overview Report, the average “global” internet user spends about seven hours per day on the web across all devices. Unfortunately, for digital workers, using a computer or a mobile device for most of the day is required for their work. However, most people still spend their off-hours in front of a screen.
In reality, spending too much time in front of a laptop, tablet, or phone can impact your ability to get quality rest. Moreover, studies show that it can also lead to anxiety, depression, and stress. After all, fatigue and burnout can stem from a person’s inability to disconnect from work completely.
Fighting Your Natural Energy Levels
Our bodies follow a Circadian rhythm, which is an internal clock that determines cycles of slumps and alertness. Throughout the day, you will notice that you go through a series of highs and lows.
If you don’t listen to your body’s natural rhythm, you’ll likely experience work fatigue. You may even feel frustrated most of the time.
10 Tips for Fighting Work Fatigue
It’s only natural to get tired of working. However, if that feeling drags on for so long, you should find creative ways to reclaim your energy. As we’ve mentioned, you should determine the reasons why you’re experiencing work fatigue. Doing so will help you determine the ideal solution.
Here are some things you can do to stay energetic at work:
1. Discover Your Peak Productivity Times
As we’ve mentioned, your body follows a personal cycle of wakefulness and sleep. So, even without detailed analysis, you can easily determine whether you’re a night owl or a morning person. However, when it comes to identifying your peak productive hours, you definitely need to use a proper system.
Aside from recording work hours, Traqq’s automatic time tracking app can provide you with insights into your productivity. It generates reports that determine your daily, weekly, and monthly efficiency.
Traqq monitors activity levels based on mouse clicks and scrolls, as well as keyboard movements. It presents how active a user is throughout the day in percentage form and blocks of colors. Your time blocks of high activity will be in green while normal activity will be in yellow. Meanwhile, low activity or idle time will be in red. This way, you will identify patterns of productivity and slumps.
Once you’ve identified your productivity peaks, you can follow this strategy:
- Morning productivity peaks – If mornings are easier for you, you can schedule deep work in the early hours and meetings in the afternoon.
- Afternoon productivity peaks – Consider asking for a more flexible schedule where you can start the day a bit later. This way, you won’t have to force yourself to power through the morning.
2. Keep Yourself Motivated
Without the proper motivation, your energy levels may drop and cause work fatigue. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to stay motivated throughout the week, let alone the day. Now, if you wait for motivation to come knocking at your door, you may find yourself in limbo forever.
So, you should condition your brain and environment for motivation. You can begin by getting rid of clutter and making your workspace more conducive to work. This way, you can remove physical and visual distractions that may make you unmotivated.
If you tend to procrastinate when you’re dealing with an overwhelming task, you should try the five-minute rule. Its premise requires you to give an activity or a project five minutes, no matter how challenging it seems. Once you get through those first few minutes, you’ll likely find yourself finishing the entire thing.
3. Develop a Healthy Lifestyle
Often, we conclude that physical health issues are a result of work fatigue. However, it can also be the other way around. If your body is not in good shape, you’re more likely to get tired at work. So, make sure you consult with a healthcare specialist to know how you can improve your overall wellbeing.
Here are some simple tips that will help you prep your body for productive work:
According to an article published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, losing as little as 2% of your body’s water content can have a noticeable effect. It can reduce motivation, lead to altered body temperature control, and even increased fatigue.
So, if you don’t drink enough water, you may feel tired and weak throughout the workday. After all, water plays an important role in transporting nutrients throughout your body.
The food you eat can also affect your productivity and energy. For instance, if your diet consists of high-carb meals, you may get an initial energy boost. However, the effect will wear off quickly. When this happens, your brain will fill with sleep hormones that cause you to feel tired. So, make sure you change your diet and focus on brain-boosting foods that provide long-lasting effects.
You don’t have to perform high-intensity exercises just to keep yourself energized. Most of the time, all you need is light jogging, casual walking, or biking. These regular, low-intensity activities can reduce stress levels, decrease fatigue, and improve sleep.
4. Take Regular Breaks
If you’re getting tired of working, perhaps, you should take a break. You will be surprised how a 15-minute power nap can improve your productivity and boost your alertness. Slow-wave sleep, or longer naps, are also great for enhancing your decision-making skills.
Taking regular breaks is also a natural part of your internal clock. According to sleep researcher Nathaniel Kleitman, following your ultradian cycles can be beneficial for your health. After 90 minutes of deep work, your body naturally asks for a break. So, give it what it needs and let it recover.
Now, if taking power naps or working at 90-minute intervals doesn’t work, maybe you should consider taking a day off. Sometimes, your productivity, motivation, and creativity can also be affected by routine work. So, give yourself some time to recharge properly.
For this time off, make sure you engage in fun activities, embrace a laid back attitude, or even get some chores done. Whatever you decide to do, ensure that it will be something for your benefit.
5. Set Boundaries Between Work and Personal Time
If you want to effectively combat fatigue, you should aim to achieve a work-life balance. Unfortunately, because of the remote work movement, many people have forgotten to set proper boundaries. According to a Remote.co survey, 40% of WFH employees find unplugging after work hours to be the biggest pain point in their current environment.
No matter how difficult it is, spend off-hours on other meaningful and personal activities. By having time for leisure, you can recharge and become more focused, creative, and productive for the next day.
If you’re having trouble setting boundaries between your work and personal time, you should take advantage of Traqq’s smart alerts and notifications. You can set up the app to notify you when you haven’t taken a break after several hours of working. It can even tell you how long you’ve been glued to your computer.
6. Get Enough Sleep
Getting adequate sleep is another important aspect of combating work fatigue. A Bradley University study found that sleep deprivation can affect a person’s mood, as well as their motor and cognitive performance. This means that without adequate sleep, you may not have the motivation to work and the energy to be productive.
If you’ve experienced feeling tired after waking up in the morning, then it likely means that you didn’t get enough quality sleep. Different factors may come into play here, but one of the things that you can do is maintain good sleep hygiene. Here are some tips to follow:
- Prepare your bedroom for quality sleep. Have nice bedding, a comfortable mattress, and relaxing scents.
- Follow a sleep schedule and have a pre-bedtime ritual that will help you relax.
- Store your devices away from your bed and don’t use them an hour or two before bedtime.
- Keep the room dark, cozy, and quiet to ensure that noise and light won’t interrupt your sleep.
What to Avoid When You’re Tired of Working
We’ve already discussed what you should do to combat work fatigue. Now, what are the “don’ts” when you’re getting tired of working?
7. Don’t Force Yourself
Pushing yourself to work even harder is not the solution to overcoming fatigue. When you feel tired, forcing yourself to power through will only make the feelings worse. Instead, you should take a break. If you’re struggling to get things done, learn how to prioritize tasks according to importance and urgency.
8. Don’t Work Overtime
Sometimes, working long hours is unavoidable. However, this shouldn’t happen on a regular basis. Often, working overtime doesn’t boost your productivity. Once you reach your limits, your cognitive functions drop and you’ll have trouble focusing.
9. Don’t Consume Excessive Caffeine
Indeed, drinking coffee, eating sugary food, or even smoking cigarettes can stimulate your brain and body. However, their effects can wear off quickly, causing your energy levels to drop drastically. Excessive sugar and stimulant consumption can affect your sleep and even result in other health issues.
10. Don’t Ignore the Symptoms
It’s only natural to feel fatigued at work occasionally. However, if you notice that the mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion has been going on for quite some time, seek professional help. You shouldn’t ignore the symptoms of excessive fatigue because they may be symptoms of a health issue. So, don’t hesitate to seek medical help if necessary.