It happens to all of us and we know it all too well… that dreaded afternoon slump. One minute you’re in the zone, cruising along and getting tasks done and then—BAM—it hits you out of nowhere. It’s like getting bonked in the head with a soccer ball, but instead of physical pain, you’re left with droopy eyelids and no will to continue working.
Unfortunately, though, it’s only 2:00PM and there are still a few hours left to go. You have projects needing attention and your phone is still ringing off the hook. But your mind has decided to take a vacation and is off in Tahiti somewhere while your body is entering shutdown mode with no direction from your brain to keep on keepin’ on.
So what do you do? Hide under the desk for a quick snooze? Tell your boss it’s time to start ending the workday at 2:00? Demand a nap room be constructed immediately? Those ideas probably won’t go over very well (unless your boss is a victim of that afternoon crash as well). Instead, here’s a handful of great ways to keep your energy flowing, your creativity popping and your productivity on the rise while fending off that afternoon slump beast.
Most of us grew up with the simplicity of a bowl of cereal for breakfast. It’s extremely easy to make and it doesn’t take very long. But, regrettably, that’s not going to get you very far, especially with the amount of sugar and how processed cereal is these days. I can almost bet you aren’t reaching for the All Bran, am I right? Eat a breakfast that lasts you the entire day, heavy on the fruit, vegetables, yogurt or whole grains. You can keep the cereal if you must, just throw out the milk for Greek yogurt and switch up those Golden Grahams for some Shredded Wheat.
You may think you’re being entirely counterproductive by taking a lot of breaks but, in all honesty, it’s quite the opposite. A five to ten minute break every hour or so will keep you alert and energized, make sure your blood is flowing and get your brain a rest from whatever task you’ve been stewing on. Take a short walk, go get a snack or have a brief conversation with a coworker. And if you get the stink-eye from others for mingling, tell them it’s in the name of productivity.
It’s important to snack throughout the day to keep your metabolism running at optimum levels and fend off the body’s natural reactions to starvation, which includes slowing down non-necessary processes to conserve energy. Snack often, but snack wisely. Hardboiled eggs, almonds, dried fruit, and any type of vegetable will keep you from feeling drowsy.
Drink your coffee! Just remember your timing. Too early or too late and you can easily mess up your natural cycle. Your body is “naturally caffeinating” between 8 and 9 AM and again between 12 and 1 PM. Let your body do its thing and pop a cup of Joe around 10 AM and again around 2PM.
If you can manage it, water can actually be a better alternative than the afternoon coffee pick-me-up. Stay hydrated throughout the day and you’ll experience a notable increase in energy. Or, if it’s a particularly hot summer day and you feel dehydrated already, try drinking an electrolyte-replacement beverage like Pedialyte or Gatorade. Just be careful of the sugar and sodium levels and make sure to follow up with water the rest of the day.
Many offices have interior spaces that don’t ever see the light of the sun, and unless you’re a high-level executive with a corner office and floor-to-ceiling windows, you probably don’t get any natural light throughout the work day. Get away from all that technology (computer screens, phone screens, SmartBoards, etc.) and give your brain a breather. Move around and step outside for a few minutes. When you get back to those screens, you’ll feel rejuvenated and ready to start working again.
It’s okay to talk. Step away from your digital inbox and into the real world. Turn your chair around and have a legitimate chat with the person next to you. If there’s no one next to you, physically stand up and walk to an actual person. I promise it won’t be the end of the world and your natural human need to be social will be satisfied.