We’ve all been there: on the way back to work after a much-needed lunch break only to find a complete deficit of concentration and willpower. Whether it’s a Monday afternoon or a Friday, the afternoon slumps come for all of us at some point or another.
Check out the following 10 ways to keep you productive, efficient and in good spirits.
1. Do Some Stretching
A big contributing factor to these afternoon slumps is a lack of blood flow — there’s a good chance you’ve been sitting still for most of the day. Make it a point to do some stretching every day, even if only for a minute or two. By setting some time aside every afternoon to do some very basic stretching (work the arms legs and back), you’ll be amazed by how much better you feel afterward.
2. Accomplish Something Simple
If the long hours of the afternoon are progressing at a glacial pace, why not take the time to finish a simple task or chore? Maybe clear the clutter from your desk or answer a couple of emails or phone calls that you’ve been ignoring.
3. Eat Wisely
Making just a few simple substitutions at lunchtime can make a world of difference when it comes to your health. The best choices are protein-rich foods like tuna and turkey, but you’d be smart to skip the bread if you’re thinking of a tuna salad sandwich. Instead, consider a salad topped with chicken salad or even a diced hard-boiled egg. You’ll also want to steer clear of excess sugar throughout the workday, which tends to only make afternoon exhaustion worse.
4. Put Screens Away For Awhile
Eyestrain is a common problem for people who work in front of computers for most of the day. It’s a good idea to avoid long hours in front of a screen (and the fatigue that comes with it) by interspersing the time you spend at your desk with other types of work around the office. Tackle some paperwork or tidy up the office — whatever it is, seek out some variety.
5. Get Some Air
This tip will be more successful at some workplaces than others; for example, when I worked as a contractor for a window replacement company, I got plenty of air and sunshine. But for those who work indoors for the better part of the day, just stepping outside for a few minutes and taking in some fresh air to your lungs could put a spring in your step for the rest of the afternoon. Of course, the Vitamin D from the sunshine doesn’t hurt, either.
6. Make Time For Teatime
Coffee is a big hit in the workplace, but the high quantities of caffeine and sugar can do more harm than good. If you need a pick-me-up in the afternoon, consider substituting a cup of green tea; it has less caffeine, as well as a host of enticing health benefits that coffee doesn’t.
7. Chew Some Gum
It might sound strange, but sometimes, staying alert requires something as simple as chewing a stick of gum. There’s actually some convincing science behind this that shows — even in cases of severe sleep deprivation — chewing gum can help relieve feelings of sleepiness.
8. Stay Hydrated
Something to keep in mind all day long is to ensure that you’re getting enough water. Dehydration can absorb our energy and cause our minds to wander as we grow more exhausted. Keep a water bottle nearby throughout the day to make sure you’re getting enough fluids. The Institute of Medicine maintains that about 3 liters of beverages per day is appropriate for the average male; for females, at least 2.2 liters should be sufficient.
9. Make Power Playlist
This is another tip that may not work for everybody, but there’s some good science behind it. Studies have shown that listening to music in the workplace can have a number of benefits, including helping us to stay more focused and productive. It’s also a great way to train your brain to become better at multi-tasking. There are a few free sites that offer music catered specifically for concentration, like Focus@Will.
10. Prepare For The Day
Many of us tend to rush in the morning, scrambling just to get ready to make the drive to work. Even so, preparing for the day is important if you want to maintain focus throughout it. Don’t skip breakfast in the morning — even something simple, like a power bar, muffin or smoothie, can do wonders for you later. Starting the day off right will make it easier to finish on a high note.
Photo via College Humor