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A 9-5 job (or any job that fits that description) can be mentally exhausting. How does one prepare for this on a daily basis, to start off focused, increase productivity throughout, and/or prevent mental burnout? What can one do throughout the day as well to prevent a day-to-day burnout and/or exhaustion?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

Before work

Eating breakfast will help you wake up. Many people swear by coffee as well. Even if you drink coffee, still eat food. It will give you more energy. Showering/exercise also give some people energy.

During lunch

Take lunch. Seriously, take a break in addition to eating. It will give you more energy and let you "rest" your mind. The quotes are because the brain thinks of solutions even when you aren't. I can't tell you how many problems I've solved without thinking about them at lunch or on a walk. Speaking of which consider taking a walk or exercising during lunch.

During work

Remember to take breaks. It is easy to get absorbed in what you are doing and forget to take breaks. Whether they are structured like Pomodoro or just you get up every 60-90 minutes, breaks keep your energy and focus up. Sometime even standing up while you are working helps. I do this sometimes in meetings.

After work

You want to do something other than eat and sleep. It provides balance and prevents you for burning out. Even if you feel too mentally tired after work to do anything, take a 30 minute nap and THEN do something.

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And yes, I know you only asked about the morning. But less than optimal habits during the day can sabotage any good am prep. – Jeanne Boyarsky Aug 1 '13 at 23:52
No, I absolutely agree: During and after work is just as important as before work, especially when you're talking about 8+ hours at work! I onced worked mandatory 12 hour/6 day weeks, it was hard to do anything else but sleep outside of work, but I found the energy to keep working out, and that made a big difference. I'll have to muster it up again it seems like. – BigHomie Aug 2 '13 at 11:29

I have found that I need to wake my body up immediately in the morning. I get up, empty my bowels, then do a 5 min workout to jumpstart my wake up and start my metabolism. This is actually a great way to lose weight.

5min workout:

20 Jumping jacks

10 push ups

10 situps

5 pull ups


You can change the numbers, but this is a great pre day warm up. It also helps to do some sort of workout/get blood flowing through your body at work.Good luck

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Not a bad idea, healthier than caffeine also! – BigHomie Aug 1 '13 at 18:52

Preparing in the morning by eating right or exercising is great, but there are day-to-day factors that can impede on your normal routine; sleeping in late, going to bed late, early AM meetings, or other errands. I find it helpful to carry with you a "backup" method for staying focused at work and awake during those dimly-lit 1:00pm powerpoint meetings.

I carry around a 200mg caffeine pill (Walmart's Equate Stay awake) that I cut into two halves in the morning- ~100mg a piece. Twice as strong as a soda, and a little stronger than most Starbucks small coffees. One for the morning and one for the afternoon as needed. Caffeine's half-life is around 5 hours which is long enough to last you the rest of the workday.

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