10 Highly-Productive Ways to Stay Awake at Work


Feeling a little sluggish come Monday morning? Pour a cup of coffee and check out these 10 inspiring ways to help you and your employees stay awake at work and keep productivity flowing.

It’s Monday, and after the weekend you had, you’re finding yourself falling asleep at your desk. You can’t keep your eyes open, you can’t seem to focus on anything you’re supposed to be doing, and all you can think about is crawling into your soft, warm bed and going to sleep. But it’s only 1 in the afternoon and you have hours left to try to stay awake at work.

We’ve all found ourselves at times nodding off or simply getting lost in thought at our desks.

It can be hard sometimes to snap out of it and move on with your workday. If you’re having trouble keeping your eyes open, check out these ten tips to help you stay awake at work.

1. Keep Your Workspace Bright

When it’s dark, our bodies tend to send us signals to go to sleep. Not to mention working in a dark space all day long, especially if you’re working on a computer, is terrible for both your eyesight and your morale. So as Dumbledore so wisely said, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

If you have access to windows in your office and you’re working during the day, open the blinds and let in some natural light. If you don’t have windows or you work at night, turn on some extra lights. You may consider getting an extra lamp for your space if the lighting isn’t good.

2. Drink Caffeine Early in Your Shift

Now it will come as no surprise that coffee is one of the best ways to stay awake at work. Some have even attributed the start of the Renaissance to the wondrous powers of coffee. The trick you may not know is that it’s best to get some joe at the start of your shift.

Having a cup of coffee at the beginning of your workday can help you start off your shift alert and energized, making your whole workday that much easier. Don’t have time to make the run to the coffee shop? Check out this delivery coffee service in Chicago, or see if there’s a similar one in your area.

3. Drink Water

While having caffeine is certainly a great way to stay awake, there’s also no beating plain old water. Sure, coffee gives you a boost of energy for a few hours. But making sure you drink enough water can help make sure you have more energy all the time.

One symptom of dehydration can be fatigue, and for all its wonders, coffee is dehydrating. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water and you’ll find yourself more alert, as well as generally healthier, throughout the day. If you have trouble remembering to drink water, try getting a water bottle with hourly drinking goals printed on the side.

4. Use Energizing Scents

Out of all our five senses, the nerve center that controls our sense of smell is located lowest on the brain stem, making this our most basic sense in many ways. Have you ever smelled something and been instantly transported back to your mom’s kitchen when you were eight or your senior English classroom in high school? That’s the power of smell at work – and it can help you work harder, too.

Try getting a candle or oil diffuser for your desk, and keep it stocked with energizing scents. You can also get a lotion or essential oil to rub on your palms if you prefer. Good energizing scents include jasmine, peppermint, and citrus.

5. Do the Easy Stuff First

Have you ever gone into work on a Monday, sat down at your desk, looked at your to-do list, and immediately wished you could go back to bed? Facing down a daunting task list can be one of the quickest ways to sap your work energy and morale. When you run into this, try picking the easy tasks to do first.

Pick out one task that will only take a few minutes, or that will be fun, and do that one. Once you’ve started on your to-do list, it will seem easier to keep moving on down the list. Work your way up to the harder tasks, and at the end of the day when you finish them, you’ll get to go home with a great sense of accomplishment.

6. Start Meetings at Odd Times

This piece of advice may seem at first glance like a strange new way to torment your employees and coworkers. But starting meetings at odd times – for instance, beginning that production meeting at 9:37 instead of at 9:30 – can be one of the most effective ways to get everyone moving in a punctual fashion.

If your employees know there’s a meeting that starts at 9:30, they’re likely to leave for the meeting at just that time, or to finish answering an email before heading that way. It’s a nice, round time, so it won’t make a big difference if they’re a few minutes late, right? But if a meeting is at 9:37, there must be some specific reason for that – and you’ll find your employees and coworkers showing up right on time.

7. Implement a Creative Hour

While the image of an axe-wielding madman certainly isn’t one that you want to incorporate into your office culture, the phrase “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” does ring true for the workplace. It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes, taking some time off work can actually help make you more productive in the long run. One of the best ways to do this is to spend some time being creative.

Art is one of the best therapies, and especially if you work in an environment that doesn’t allow for much creativity, implementing a creative hour can be a huge boost for office morale and a great way to stay awake at work.

Every Tuesday from 2 to 3, for instance, put out coloring books, watercolor paints, modeling clay, and other art supplies for your officemates. Let everyone come spend some time creating, and maybe set up a display area for all the new art to help brighten up office d?cor as well.

8. Turn on Some Music

If you’re having trouble keeping your eyes open at work, especially if you’re working on a dull task, getting some background music going may be just the pick-me-up you need. Every shower curtain rock star or traffic stop backup dancer has proved that having music around puts a little pep in our step. So get your toes tapping under your desk and turn on some tunes.

If everyone in your office likes a certain type of music, you may consider getting speakers to play music so everyone can hear it. You can pass control of the playlist around from day to day, or let people request certain songs. You could even set up an office game where whoever meets certain office goals gets to control the music for the next week.

9. Go for a Walk

If you work in an office, sitting in a cubicle under fluorescent lights all day can drain all your energy in no time flat. We mentioned earlier that getting some natural light into your workspace is a good way to stay awake at work, but why not take that one step further and get some fresh air while you’re at it? Going for a ten-minute walk can wake you up better than any cup of coffee.

If you work in an area that allows for it, go outside and walk around – even if it’s just around your building – for ten minutes. If it’s not practical for you to go outside, at least make a lap around the office. You’ll get your blood flowing, get a change of scenery (even if it is a small one), and come back fresh to your next task.

10. Keep Snacks Handy

Snickers may have had a point when they said “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” Hunger can make people irritable, fatigued, and generally less productive at work. So even if you’ve had to skip your lunch break, make sure to keep some snacks on hand.

Make sure the snacks you keep around are healthy snacks that will keep you fueled up to work. Salty snacks like pretzels or Combos are a bad idea (remember what we talked about with dehydration). Instead, bring some baby carrots, apple, or almonds with you to keep your hunger at bay.

More Tricks to Stay Awake at Work

There are days when the 3 o’clock lag gets to even the best of us and we find it hard to stay awake at work. Try to get enough good-quality sleep every night and limit your shift changes to make sure that you are at your best when you get to work. But if you find yourself feeling sluggish, try a few of the tips here to find some new zip to get through the rest of your day.

If you’re looking for more advice about keeping your startup business operating at peak efficiency, we have articles about effective productivity tools, inspirational quotes, and much more.