How do you beat exhaustion after work?

cadran's profile thumbnail
Good question! I usually take a break between doing mentally strenuous activities. I'd probably go for a run or spend some time listening to a podcast and stretching or something like that before sitting down to work on something else. I never force myself to work on side projects. If a week goes by where I don't feel motivated to work on them, I don't feel bad about that. That's an important part of keeping them fun for me.I also try to spend hobby time on things that don't involve deep thinking, like going for long walks. Things where I've got time to let my thoughts wander. That's when I have some of my best ideas!
dulma's profile thumbnail
Thought-wandering time is so important! Otherwise my brain might just melt a little from all the time I spend thinking about my businesses.
karinhollerbach's profile thumbnail
Like you, I have personal projects that involve as much tech and/or thinking as my day job does. For me, I have to include a balance that either allows my mind to wander or to be used in a very different way. Plus, I need physical activities, sometimes intense, sometimes gentle and soothing, as well as time outdoors. Finally, I give myself permission to just not do something even if it's a fun personal project or activity - e.g., yesterday/Sunday I had three of my favorite fun activities lined up, and when I woke up, I realized one of them simply had to get dropped. So I instead enjoyed the morning sun in my kitchen and did only two of them afterward. I need that in the moment flexibility to tune in to what I need then and there.
kuan's profile thumbnail
+1 to using physical activity as a way to break up the day job and the evening projects. I always feel more energetic after a good jog after work.
ElaineM's profile thumbnail
Another +1 to physical activity/exercise. I made the commitment to exercise regularly by signing up for a triathlon and set up a sponsorship page for it. Both the tri event date and the sponsors gave me the drive I needed, particularly on the days I was exhausted, to make those first steps of getting out of the house/to the gym. I always found that on these days, despite needing to drag myself around, I was able to do more [exercise] than I thought I was going to be able to. I also found that afterwards I came home in a better mood and with more energy and drive for other areas of my life. - perhaps some of these methods could also transfer to your personal projects? Can you set a deadline/targets for your online courses and books? Can you share these with someone who could then keep you accountable (perhaps set up a reciprical agreement with someone to help each other with your goals)? Finally recovering with good sleep at least at the weekend, but ideally through the week is also paramount. Do what you need to do to make this happen. And don't feel guilty for going to bed early or sleeping longer in the morning. Research is only just starting to understand some of the range of benefits and necessity of sleep.
zsh2v1's profile thumbnail
this is admittedly bad advice, but box wine works every time.
ara206's profile thumbnail
Such a good question, and one that I haven't totally found an answer to but here is what I found helped me:-Drink water throughout the day, so you aren't dehydrated when you get home because this can lead to fatigue. -Find the time of day when you are most productive. If you know you are very tired when you get home, is it possible for you to squeeze 1-2 hours of work into your morning? -Figure out what parts of your job are the most (mentally) exhausting and see what you can do to curb that (take breaks, go on a walk, listen to a podcast, take a nap if your office has a place to do that...or in your car!) In general I think it's easier to prevent exhaustion than recover from it, because I know for me when I get home from work, after I walk my dog and make dinner I'm basically done and nothing is going to "re-energize" me that late into the evening.
karinhollerbach's profile thumbnail
I especially appreciate your comments about prevention and about finding the time of day when you are most productive!
mbmoore's profile thumbnail
I'm still working on this myself, but I am finding that on days when I take some time to shift gears, either by going out after work or making dinner gives me more energy for activities later in the evening. There are still some days when I feel like I could just collapse in a chair and never move though.
rebeccawillett's profile thumbnail
I'm a total morning person, and I just came to terms with the fact that my brain just doesn't function very well after about 7pm. I stopped trying to fight it, and now I just allow myself to eat dinner, relax, and go to bed early, and then get up early and work on my projects then. I'm much more productive when I get myself out of bed at 6am than if I try to force myself to work at night! Staying physically active is a very important part of me being able to do this, though. If I don't exercise regularly, my sleep starts to suffer, which makes it much harder to get up early and focus on things in the morning.
ironcarbide's profile thumbnail
1) Build a routine2) Have the tolerance to eat the same thing through the whole week3) Have a short commuteI work from 9 to 5 and bring my gym bag with me so that I can go workout right after work on MWF. I lift weights (mostly powerlifting movements, so squat/bench/deadlift) and do a little bit of calisthenics or cardio after. When I get home around 9 pm I squeeze in one hour of side projects or courses after I eat dinner. Dinner is bulk-prepared, usually one protein and then a side. Something like 6 lbs of tritip, chicken, or pork (all three of which are quite cheap here in the US--less than $6/lb), depending on what's on sale, will last me for 5 - 7 days, and the side can be salad/corn/carrots/fruit. I have a big tray that I line with foil and I'll bake or broil my meat. That way you do one big prep that maybe takes 1 hour and you're good on meals for the week. I won't beat myself up if I can only get 30 minutes of productivity on MWF. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, since I don't work out those days, I can get 1 - 2 solid hours in and then spend time with my girlfriend, read a book, or unwind. I go to a local programming meetup on Saturdays and will do an hour or two more of productive work afterwards, then tend to chores and hang out with friends or relax.Sundays I will go with my gut--I'll get one thing done and then if I want to do nothing afterwards, I go for it. If I'm feeling energetic I can do more. I can definitely see areas of improvement--I could be more productive on weekends if I blocked out time more intelligently. I can definitely work harder. For now, I am making good progress with this schedule and will probably make tweaks in the future as necessary. I'm also fueled by the excitement of a career change and thrilled by how much more fun software engineering is than my previous work as a formulation chemist. Lastly because I'm so far behind my peers in terms of not having a CS degree, this motivates me to keep pushing because I strongly dislike knowing so little. I suppose in the end it's whether it's worth it to you. If you want it enough and don't have mental or physical impediments you can find a way. Otherwise, the first step will be figuring out how to address the mental/physical problems.
whitneycaneel's profile thumbnail
Great question! I've found that scheduling everything out on my personal calendar helps keep me motivated and accountable. I was resistant to it at first but it's help me stay on track tremendously. Whenever I feel myself getting demotivated I remove myself from the physical space I'm in and walk around outside and listen to music until I feel myself gaining more momentum.
SarahMosses's profile thumbnail
I do like to use my weekends to battle through personal development. I'm a member of Soho House and my local has a rooftop pool. So in the summer, I'll take a book / journal with me to read / write on personal projects in a nice environment. Otherwise, if at home, I can get distracted with cooking, cleaning etc
KaseyDreier's profile thumbnail
Flip your day. I know it seems obvious. But literally, think of it like physics. It's conservation of energy. If you put the stuff you really care about and requires personal motivation to do at the end of the day, the furthest from your energy input (waking up from sleep), then of course you're not going to do it. It's physics and chemistry. Flip your day. Put the stuff that requires the most energy and willpower first. Give your "paycheck" work what's left of your energy, instead of the other way around. Typically you don't need your "best energy" to get your work done. Money serves as a powerful incentive to make sure the work gets done, even if you're more exhausted.That said, there's a whole host of ways to conserve on energy and fight energy vampires throughout the day at work. If you want to know more about that, let me know!Love, Kasey
JessicaValenzuela's profile thumbnail
Discipline. is key. Exercise. Squeeze in a few minutes of walking before getting home, boxing, biking...something to release endorphins!Eat Healthy. Will make you feel light and energized.Learn what makes your mind/body most productive. I used to not be a morning person, but having a growing startup with East Coast customers, I needed to stretch my day and start early and end late To give my body/mind a boost, I take mid-morning or mid-afternoon breaks or me time. These breaks come in different forms for me: snowboard, long walks, play with my dog, make something delicious or read a few enriching articles or a few pages of a book am reading...send silly texts to my family or really close friends in short, watch a few funny you tube videos...anything to make you laugh and feel great!Then I get back to work feeling productive, energized and ready to conquer.
carlyblair's profile thumbnail
Check out anything by Laura Vanderkam ( or her podcast Before Breakfast - she has great tips on time management and time shifting schedules.
daniroo's profile thumbnail
I am studying for the GMAT currently and this EXACT question has been on my mind lately. It's incredibly difficult to study after a long day at work which is already mentally taxing. I loved hearing everyone's thoughts. For my part, I've shifted my schedule to try to knock out 2 hours in the morning of quality study/personal time and moved to the 10am-7pm schedule for work. I only drink 1 cup of coffee/day now so that I can fall asleep easily. I stop all screen time at 10pm. Though I'm still trying to figure out how to eek a few hours of work in the evening, I've found it helps if I take a total break from work to make dinner, go outside, do yoga etc and then only commit to at most 1.5 hours of work between ~8-10pm. It's still a struggle but what I'm learning is that consistency and discipline are key.
Mirna's profile thumbnail
mini breaks (eg working in pomodoro style,or doing small mindful breaks often, even if just for couple of deep breaths) are really important for this! also, checking into your energy level throughout the day and noticing when it is decreasing it - making sure to react before it actually gets drained :)