Open Thinkering


Surviving to thriving: 10 steps to ensure you remain productive after a rough night.


Whether it’s being woken up several times by our children, the eternal racket of noisy neighbours, or simply going to bed late and sleeping restlessly, we’ve all been in the situation where we need to be productive after a rough night.

These 10 steps help me be productive after a rough night. I hope they work for you too! ๐Ÿ˜€

1. Don’t snooze

The likelihood is that if you’re having a rough night you’ll probably wake up half an hour to an hour before your usual waking-up time. Get up! Whilst it’s tempting to stay in bed, snoozing actually has a worse effect on your productivity than getting up and getting on with your day.

You can always go to bed early at the other end!

2. Have a cold(er) shower

I remember reading in Men’s Health magazine that having a cold shower after running or a work-out helps your muscles to recover more quickly. It also stimulates your skin. In fact, I end every shower that I have with a quick burst of freezing cold water. This means that even in the middle of winter the bathroom seems warm…

In terms of our current focus, a cold (or colder) shower stimulates your skin and makes you feel a bit more alive/human. It gives you a jolt similar to a double espresso… ๐Ÿ˜‰

3. Bounce!

My wife’s got a mini-trampoline. It was a bit of a fad: she’d bounce during watching Friends back in the day. I noticed that she would always seem happier afterwards, but attributed this to watching comedy.

In fact, research shows that bouncing stimulates the brain and releases endorphins. You may not have a trampoline, but you can bounce on the spot. Aim for 100 bounces – it’s enough to make you slightly out-of-breath and feel a lot better!

4. Focus on others

The chances are that if you’ve had a rough night then anyone else you live with will have done as well. Focus on them. Make sure they’re OK. The last thing you want to do is have an argument with people you live with and care about because you’re both tired.

Do something nice for them – make them breakfast, iron their clothes, smile at them – whatever. The very act of focusing on someone other than yourself will make you feel better.

5. Eat carbs

If you’re anything like me you’ll be tempted to head for something sweet for breakfast the morning after a rough night. It’s the sugar your body’s craving. Instead of heading for the leftovers of last night’s dessert, choose something that will stand you in good stead for the day.

Try some muesli, perhaps with some fruit. Not a big fan? Eat lots of toast. The carbohydrates will release energy slowly, keeping you productive until you next meal. Choose sugar, and you’ll suffer from blood sugar spikes and troughs, making a bad situation worse.

6. Write down two things to achieve today

You might have a to-do list as long as your arm, but focus on just two things to achieve before you get back into bed for that much-anticipated next sleep. Perhaps during your breakfast write down something to achieve before lunch and then another thing to achieve before you head home for the day.

Slimming down your to-do list and focusing on just a couple of goals means that you will feel the sense of achievement experienced when you complete something worthwhile.

7. Clear your mind during your commute

If you usually listen to the radio or your favourite music, it’s worth abstaining today. Silence is best but repetitive, fairly nondescript music works as well. Think about the two things you need to get done today and think about how to achieve them.

Another thing to do is to let go. It’s easy to be overcome with negative emotions when you’re tired. Let go of frustrations, anger and other negativities that would otherwise affect your productivity.

8. Stick to routines

It’s tempting to try and cut corners when you’re tired, to avoid doing the routine so you can get to the things you’ll be judged on and held accountable for. But those routine tasks are there for a reason: they underpin everything else that you do. So don’t ignore them. Stick to, for example, keeping things tidy, in order, email answered and making your presence known.

The idea is to move from surviving to thriving. Without the routines and workflows that underpin your productive system, you’ll end up in productivity ‘negative equity’. Which is not a good place to be. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

9. Take a caffeine nap

I’ve written before about how useful caffeine naps can be. The idea’s a simple one: drink a cup of coffee, close your eyes and relax for 15 minutes, wake up and get on with the rest of your day. I find they work best early afternoon an hour or so after lunch.

Even if you don’t go to sleep properly, you will experience moments where you’re not completely awake and you’ll certainly rest your eyes and relax. Then, just as you open your eyes the caffeine will be kicking in and you’ll be ready for the rest of the day! ๐Ÿ˜€

10. Read before bed

The biggest thing to avoid when you’ve had a rough night is not to have another one immediately afterwards. Whilst bouncing back from one rough night’s sleep is eminently do-able given the advice above, two in a row can kill your productivity until the next weekend.

Don’t look at screens for the hour before you go to bed. Hit the hay earlier than usual. Read something that will take your mind off things. Relax.


Do these work for you? Do you do anything different? Share you experiences and advice in the comments section below! ๐Ÿ™‚

CC BY-NC-SA crashbangsqueak

2 thoughts on “Surviving to thriving: 10 steps to ensure you remain productive after a rough night.

  1. I love your work on productivity Doug. You offer really practical helpful advice. Thanks!

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