For most of us, the afternoon slump is inevitable. That’s right. You’re not alone. All around the world, after lunch, people experience a significant drop in productivity. It’s not uncommon to see people slumped over their desks trying to catch a few winks or people yawing during post-lunch meetings.
We already know that what you eat for lunch matters a lot when it comes to post-noon productivity. If you’ve had a heavy lunch no amount of “hacks” is going to help you out. You just have to tough it out. The importance of a diet cannot be overstated. So before jumping into any hacks, check out this list of 27 foods that can give you more energy and think about including some as part of your lunch.
Some people, though, seem to just power on throughout the day.
Once you’ve got your diet sorted it’s time to make some minor changes to your daily schedule. We posed this conundrum to some experts and here’s what they had to say.
Block Up Your Day
Jeff Agostinelli, a life and business strategist who helps creative entrepreneurs and solopreneurs stop wasting time in their business and helps to develop their confidence says that “…afternoon dip happens for a number of reasons. To look at it as an isolated event that needs to be fixed is where our error happens in the first place.
“If you want to be more productive in the afternoons the question isn’t necessarily how to get more done in the afternoon, but how do I structure the day so you get more done in the afternoon. Context is everything.
“Simply stated, we’re just not meant to focus for 8-9 hours at a time. So forcing ourselves to sit still and focus for that long simply creates fatigue. The best way to be more productive in the afternoons is to establish a rhythm that lets you take small breaks throughout the day to strategically disengage. This way you’ll be less likely to drop off
completely at the end of an intensely long period of focus.
“There have been attempts in the last handful of years to point to how much time is ideal for short and long focus periods, but what I’ve found through my own attempts at engineering productivity and working with other business owners and entrepreneurs are that we get to focus in two ways.
“Big blocks and small blocks.
“If we can chunk the day into two blocks. The day will naturally have a new rhythm. The longer break in the middle of the day could be a run, a workout, running some errands, making some personal phone calls to catch up with people, a short meetup with a friend… anything that changes gears long enough to reset, but not so long that you don’t want to get back to work.
“Typically each block is about 4 hours and within that block, there’s the opportunity to work for segments of 30-50 minutes at a time with a 5-10 minute break in between to unfocus stretch, grab some water, put on some tunes, or tidy something up.
“Start with doing two of these 4-hour blocks per day. Work in 30-50 minutes sprints with a 5-10 minute recess. Then do that until you fill the 4-hour block. Then take 30 minutes, 1 hour, or even an hour and a half and do something as mentioned above. After that, get back to work for another 4-hour block.
“I’d love to give you an exact one size fits all prescription for productivity here, but those focus periods are different depending on the person and the nature of the work. It’s not necessarily about the length of time, but getting into a rhythm that leaves you feeling less fatigued and naturally more energized. That is the metric.
“If you want to get really crafty with this and find the optimal time frame for you, then using an app like Focus Keeper or Focus Booster is ideal. “
Motivate Yourself And Get Moving
“Most of us are less productive in the evenings – whether this is the post-3pm work slump or when we’ve just stepped through the door after a long day at the office. If you want to boost your productivity, step away from the coffee pot and instead do some form of activity,” says Keith McNiven, founder of Right Path Fitness
“Raise your heart rate by cycling home or join a local sports team. It’s not so much about
the workout, but rather it engages your body and gives you more energy in the long-run. Try to get out into the fresh air, take a brisk walk or if you really can’t focus, change your environment.
“It’s not so much about the workout, but rather it engages your body and gives you more energy in the long-run. Try to get out into the fresh air, take a brisk walk or if you really can’t focus, change your environment.
“We all like habits, but breaking free from them often helps us boost productivity because we’re engaging our mind. It’s also useful to switch off, quite literally. Turn the TV off, put your phone on airplane mode or do some meditation – clear your head and the productivity will follow. Personally, I like to go for a swim or a run – it always wakes me right up
and I feel more energized afterward.
“My top tip? Try to avoid slumping onto the sofa the second you get home.
It’s harder to make yourself do something if you’ve put yourself in the
‘cozy and comfortable’ mindset.”
And Finally, Some Mantra Meditation
This last one is definitely unconventional. But according to Bart Wolbers, researcher and chief science writer at Alexfergus.com, mantra meditation may just be the ultimate 3 pm productivity hack.
Bart has degrees in Physical Therapy (B), Clinical Health Science (MS), Philosophy of Science and Technology (MS), and Philosophy (BA; MA).
He has also written about many science-backed bio-hacks to improve productivity before, ranging from mindfulness meditation, nootropics, hacking your dopamine levels, managing chronic stress, cold therapy, and upgrading your sleep quality.
This is what he had to say:
“First of all: not *all *people slow down in the afternoon. About 20% of people are morning larks, about 60% are regular, about 10% don’t have a strong night/day rhythm, and about 10% are night owls.
“Instead of slowing down in the afternoon, night owls *only wake up around that time* and get their best work done around that time. So it’s mostly the morning larks and regular people who need help around the afternoon.
“My number one tip for afternoon productivity? Mantra meditation. The benefit of this meditation form is that it puts you in a very deep rest for 20 minutes. EEG analyses and skin-voltage measurements show that the depth of this rest is even greater than deep sleep. By including a 20-minute session around 2 PM you’ll feel like you’ve just slept for a couple of hours and feel completely refreshed to tackle the afternoon (and even
“The meditation form is performed by having a mantra (a meaningless sound) repeat in your mind (so without you pronouncing any word). The goal is not to control the mantra, *i.e.*, to have it lead its own life without your interference. So no matter whether the rhythm of the mantra changes, or its pronunciation, or its loudness, you’re accepting any changes as they come.
“During this period, you may get physical sensations, such as shaking of the body, or thoughts. Whatever comes up, accept it, let it run its course, and afterward, once you realize you’re no longer thinking the mantra, let it come up effortlessly in your mind once again.”
The afternoon slump can be disheartening. But it doesn’t have to be a burden on your mind and body. Take care of your health by following the above expert advice.