Are you tired? Just about a month ago, I went to an all-day meeting with a bunch of people who are adults, parents and productive members of society. Everybody looked exhausted.
I scanned the room and saw nothing but droopy eyelids. The thirty-eight-year-old creative director was pounding Red Bull Total Zero®. Most of the women were drinking Diet Coke. The rest of the pack drank coffee and caffeinated diet ice tea.
I will not lecture you on the toxic waste that’s pumped into most energy drinks and sodas. However, here are other ways to increase your stamina and stay awake at meetings during the workday.
Get your heart rate up during the day.
Many of my friends started doing walking meetings in 2015 to accumulate steps on their FitBits. I made fun of the trend. A lot. In retrospect, those individuals never seem to complain about fatigue or exhaustion. Whether it is a “walking meeting” or briskly strolling around the perimeter of your building for 20 minutes, getting your heart rate up is essential to conquering your day. There’s a bonus: when you get your heart rate up regularly, you can overcome anxiety and be less freaked out when you hear bad news at work.
Improve the quality of your sleep the night before.
A tired mind and body will hold your career back more than you realize. If you cannot endure a 60-minute meeting without nodding off or looking at your phone to keep you awake, you are doomed on the job. A lack of sleep is killing you and nixing your chances for a promotion at work. Even if you cannot get to bed any earlier than the night before, you can start your bedtime process sooner and try to form better sleep habits. (And if you only get your heart rate up before bed while yelling at your kids, yell at them sooner and wind down earlier!)
Practice for the big day.
Nobody runs a marathon without ramping up for the big event. In that way, you can’t be expected to attend an all-day workshop or lead a lengthy and tactical meeting if you spend most of your day at your desk looking at the internet. Experiment with your endurance and stamina. Attend a meeting in another department. Talk to someone new at work and ask to learn about something technical and outside of your comfort zone. Try to pay attention to something for longer and longer periods of time. If you cannot endure listening to Judy from accounting talk about AP issues for more than five minutes, you are not ready for the big day.
Do everything differently.
At the last all-day session I attended, I saw people falling asleep in the back. I wasn’t in charge of the program, but only a masochist would go more than forty-five minutes without a bio break. After the meeting, I tried to be brave and constructive. I offered a few ideas for ways we could improve engagement and attention in future meetings. In my ideal world, my meetings are in brightly-lit rooms where people can come and go without maneuvering a heavy door that makes a lot of noise. That’s not always possible, but other modifications might work in your office. It is up to you to raise your voice and ask for changes to the venue, schedule or the flow of information. Chances are you’re the voice of the silent majority.
One more thing.
I sometimes forget what it’s like to balance the needs of your family, commute to work and sit through boring meetings with consultants. However, if you don’t have the stamina to endure your job, you probably aren’t contributing much in other areas of your life.
I also think your employer benefits when you’re exhausted. Of course, your boss doesn’t want you to come to work exhausted. However, improving leave policies and rethinking work routines would cost an organization a lot of money. It’s easier (and cheaper) to embrace the status quo. And when you lack stamina and endurance, you’re too tired to fight the good battles in life. Your organization benefits, consciously or not, when you are too fatigued to push for change and too exhausted to care.
So wake up, get your stamina up, and build your endurance. Your life will be better. Work will become more manageable. And your colleagues will benefit when you pay attention and feel engaged.