If You Have To Work Late, Here’s How To Make The Time Productive AF

working late tips

Unsplash/Tim Gouw

You’ll never catch us advising anyone to become a workaholic, but hey, sometimes you gotta work late. It’s reasonable if it’s just once in a while, but if you don’t do it often, you may not know how to stay productive after hours.

Working late may seem like a great excuse to blast music and scroll through Instagram, and it may be hard to focus. But no worries, because we’re here to tell you how to do it right. Here’s how to make the most of your late-night work sesh.

1. Have snacks (and dinner) at the ready.

Your stomach waits for no one, including your client whose paperwork you’re finishing at 8 p.m. Make sure to eat a nutritious dinner and equally healthy snacks to keep your brain refreshed and ready to work. Also, having your own food ready or saving some from lunch will keep your work distraction-free since you won’t have to run and get something (or order Seamless).

2. Take a break at the end of the official workday before continuing.

Whenever your typical workday ends, make a point to take a 10 to 15-minute break. Go for a walk around the block, grab a smoothie, call your mom — do anything that gets you moving for a few minutes and takes your mind off the workday you just completed. A mental break could help your memory performance persevere through large tasks and the hours you have ahead of you.

3. List your tasks, and then put a time limit on each of them.

Before you start your late-night portion of work, list each task you plan to tackle and include how much time you plan to spend on each one. Take it a step further and add those times to your calendar so you know how each task will fit into your evening. You’ll be more organized if you have your entire night planned out rather than taking a vague stab at everything on your plate.

Unsplash/Victoria Heath

4. Get a solid productive playlist going.

Music helps everything and is proven to make you happy, so there’s certainly no harm in putting on a playlist. Just make sure it’s not distracting. Go for a productivity playlist on Spotify or iTunes that focuses on meditation or lyric-less tracks — those are the best for cranking through that late-night project.

5. Set a time when you’re leaving the office, and honor it.

Just as you should set a time limit for every task, set a time limit for your extended office stay (or screen time) as well. Decide on a time, like 9 p.m. to check out officially and go rest. The biggest part: Even if you haven’t reached every goal you wanted to, honor your decision to disconnect from work. If you break that promise to yourself, you’ll keep working until who knows when, and then you’ll be tired and unproductive the next day. Womp womp.

6. Stretch it out.

Stretching is important after all that sitting (or standing) at work. Take small breaks in between tasks to do some arm, back and leg stretches. Not sure which ones to do? Try some super simple yoga poses you can do in any space to keep you calm and focused.

7. Hydrate.

Water is one of the single most important components to staying healthy and functioning. Make sure you don’t let yourself get dehydrated while you’re on the grind. If you do, you’ll feel awful the next day — trust us on this one.