As I write these words in the afternoon, I find it hard to concentrate. Heck, you’re probably reading this post in the afternoon to get a break from your job. Working in the afternoon is hard. You slow down and start to push assignments off until the next day, hoping that you can squeeze in enough time in the next morning to get it done. Why does work have to get harder after lunch? And what can you do to improve your productivity?
Why is it so hard to work in the afternoon?
There are a lot of reasons our productivity drops around 2 or 3 pm. You might not be getting enough sleep, you might have eaten the wrong kind of food, you might work so hard in the morning that you don’t leave yourself enough energy in the afternoon, or you might just be experiencing your body’s natural circadian rhythm, a natural cycle of ebbs and flows of your brain.
How do you get past the afternoon slump?
Eat foods with a low glycemic index. The glycemic index is the value given to foods based on how quickly those foods increase blood glucose levels. Foods with a low glycemic index include vegetables, nuts (peanuts and cashews), raw fruits (apples, blueberries, and pears), cheese, fish, meat, olive oil, and other good fats. Also, try to avoid eating a lot of sugar.
Take a nap. Taking a short 10-minute nap will improve your productivity. When you nap, it increases your right-brain activity, boosting your creative ability. After your nap, you’ll also perform better at work because old unimportant information in your brain will be tossed out to make room for the important stuff. If you want to try taking a nap at work, try finding a secluded, dark, cool place to close your eyes for ten minutes. Just don’t forget to set an alarm so you don’t get into trouble with your boss.
Go for a walk at lunch (or do another exercise). Research shows that even a short, 20-minute walk improves cognitive performance. You could even try rolling out on your Chirp Wheel+ to get the blood flowing in your body and to relieve tension in your muscles.
Find the balance between right-brain thinking and left-brain thinking. Scientists believe that the right side of the brain is in charge of the creative and intuitive; whereas, the left side of your brain is in charge of the analytical and quantitative. If you are more inclined to using one side of your brain for your job, try to exercise the opposite side of your brain to take a break from work. If you are more creative, make a to-do list or organize your budget. If you are more analytical, listen to music or doodle for a few minutes before getting back to work.
Take a different kind of break. First of all, you should be taking short breaks throughout your day. No one can work for 8 hours without a break, except maybe a computer (and even those need to be plugged in). Taking breaks will increase your productivity and energy. Usually when you start to get tired or lose concentration you get coffee, eat, or go on Facebook, but not all of these activities give you more energy, and sometimes those activities even make you feel worse and less motivated to work. If you really want to have more energy from your break, try complimenting a colleague on their job. Compliments boost your performance and build good relationships among coworkers.
Laugh. Laughing relaxes tension and builds closer relationships. Take a break to chat with your coworkers about something humorous your boss did or about another topic. It will provide you with the relief and energy you need.
Schedule meetings in the afternoon. The morning is the most productive time of day for almost everyone. So use this time wisely and don’t schedule meetings when you are the most productive because it makes the day have a downwards slope. Schedule meetings in the afternoon. Working with other people will help you jump out of your tired state and will give you something to look forward to throughout your day.
Stay hydrated. When you are dehydrated, you work slower because your body and brain have less oil for their gears. Staying hydrated will boost your performance and quality of work.
Switch up your routine. Try to not have the same exact routine every day because that can get boring. Switch up meeting locations, try not to eat the same thing for lunch every day, or try moving your work to a new office for the day. Changing your routine will help keep you focused and more inclined to get past the slump.