Wake Up and Be Alert at Work

be alert
Wake Up, Be Alert

We’ve all probably had a bad case of the Mondays.  Perhaps you’ve played too much over the weekend and weren’t ready to come back and get to work on Monday morning.  I’ve found that when I do have a case of the Mondays (and it can happen just as easily on a Thursday), it affects my ability to make decisions, analyze issues, communicate with others, etc.  This is bad enough in any work environment, but it’s even more critical when you’re working at a client site.

Wake up

I used to have trouble getting to sleep on Sunday nights.  I’d go to bed at a reasonable time and lay there for hours.  It seemed that I’d finally get to sleep about 20 minutes before the alarm was set to go off.  I would drag for the rest of the day, wishing I could just take a nap.  Fighting the desire to doze off in a meeting with a client does not reflect well on a consultant.

I eventually learned that my college habit of sleeping in on Sunday mornings affected my ability to get to sleep at a reasonable time that night.  I would stay up late on Saturday night, sleep in on Sunday and then wonder why my biorhythms were so off on Sunday night.

I got into a habit of getting up earlier on Sunday mornings, and now I don’t have as much trouble falling asleep on Sunday night.  I’m much more refreshed on Monday morning.  It’s really a process of changing a bad habit into a good one.

Be alert

I’ve seen this scenario play out with others as well.  The Monday morning situation is common, but I’ve also seen it on Tuesday if there is a big game on Monday Night Football, the next day after someone’s bowling night, or some other work-night activity.

This can often include situations when alcohol is consumed.  In these instances, the lesson learned is to not drink so much – or so late – that it affects you the next day.

Some tips I’ve picked up over the years are:

  • Avoid excessive alcohol the night before a work day.  If you find yourself in a fog the day after drinking, it’s probably excessive.
  • Sleeping in on the weekend is fine, but sleeping too long may affect your ability to get to sleep in time to get the rest you need.
  • Drink plenty of water.  It provides natural energy that caffeine doesn’t provide.
  • Get up and walk around.  Sitting in one position over a long period of time can cause you to become lethargic.  Get up and go for short frequent walks.  If you’re in a meeting, stand up and move around if you’re able, even if you need to get up and go to the restroom.
  • Steer clear of heavy, high-carbohydrate foods (pasta, bread, rice, sweets).  High carbs will give you an immediate energy high, followed by a low that will make you sleepier.
  • Stay engaged.  It’s hard to avoid spacing out in a meeting when you haven’t had enough sleep.  Develop the self-discipline to stay engaged and participate in the conversation.  Decide to learn two things from the meeting.  It will end up energizing you instead of putting you to sleep.  You could compare this to a professional athlete playing injured.  They get into a zone and perform regardless of how they feel physically.
  • It helps to be passionate about what you’re doing.  I’m sure you’ve noticed that there are some tasks that you have the energy to do regardless of the amount of sleep you’ve had.  If you love what you do, losing a little sleep should not distract you from doing it.

See my related post: Make Yourself Indispensable

When clients pay top dollar for consultants, they expect top performance in return.  Making sure you’re well-rested, energized and on top of your game insures that you can work at your peak performance to do a great job and provide top service to your client.

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms. 

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