Fatigue or lack of enthusiasm in the afternoon is a common problem for many office workers. Those of us running Internet businesses are especially susceptible because most of our activities are carried out online — unless we are fulfilling orders, counting inventory in a warehouse, or doing some of the more physical tasks that force us to get out of our chairs. The majority of my team usually spends the entire morning in front of the computer. By the time 2 p.m. rolls around, it is common to feel unproductive.
Moreover, when I have a slower day, I find myself fighting to stay awake after lunch and have a difficult time dealing with the afternoon slump. To ensure I maintain focus and productivity, here are some tips I have tried to overcome the afternoon slump.
Having trouble getting things done after lunch? Then try to check as many things off your to-do list before then by starting your day earlier than everyone else. Get up at by 6 a.m. to get a head start on your day.
Doing so not only gives you more time to perform your tasks, but it also minimizes distractions. Since most people don’t start their workday until 8 a.m., there will be fewer individuals to interrupt your workflow. Additionally, waking up early means that you won’t have to rush and thus be able to complete tasks stress free.
There are also added benefits to getting up early such as an easier commute, shorter lines at the coffee shop, and not too many people at the gym. These things may not seem like a big deal, but they can greatly affect your productivity throughout the day.
Schedule Around your Naturally Productive Times
Pay attention to your body’s productivity state throughout the day. When are you most and least productive? Are you more focused early in the morning or after your daily cup of coffee? Do you feel your enthusiasm dwindle in the afternoon?
You should be conscious of your productivity levels so you can plan your day accordingly. If you’re given the option to coordinate tasks and meetings, take charge and schedule the important ones when you’re most productive.
For example, I’m more productive in the morning, which is why I schedule essential tasks — like meeting with suppliers and vendors or rolling out new products — early in the day. Meanwhile, low-level tasks such as responding to non-urgent emails or clearing my desk are done after lunch. That way, even if I’m not at my most productive state, I can take it easy knowing that I’ve already completed the most important activities for that day.
Make the Most of your Lunch Break
Your afternoon productivity hinges on how you spend your lunch, so make that hour count. For one thing, it’s best to keep your meal light. Stay away from heavy red meat, which is harder to digest and takes up more energy, hence the sluggish feeling you get after eating it. Stick to fruits, vegetables, and fish instead.
Also avoid eating lunch at your desk. Distance yourself from your computer screen and give your eyes and mind a break. This will allow you to get back to work with a fresh mind.
Use your lunch break to be productive in non-work related aspects. Do you need to go to the bank or pick up something at the supermarket? Do it. Getting these things done requires that you get up from your desk to experience sunlight and fresh air — two things that can reinvigorate you.
Additionally, getting these tasks done, no matter how small they may be, gives you a feeling of accomplishment and can fuel you to be even more productive for the rest of the day.
Go for a Quick Run
In his book Spark, John J. Ratey, M.D. cited numerous studies that show how aerobic exercise boosts brain functionality, increases focus and memory, and generally makes you more productive. Ratey wrote that these benefits are most pronounced immediately after exercise, which explains why people feel more alert and rejuvenated right after their workout.
If you need an extra dose of energy in the afternoon, consider going for a quick run — about half an hour — during your lunch break. Try to reach about 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate for best results.
This is easier said than done. I never did it myself. Some of my co-workers, however, would go to the gym or for a walk around the block and I saw them come back feeling re-energized.
Talk to Someone
Really, talk to someone. As online entrepreneurs, we’re so used to conducting business over email or chat that we sometimes forget how much value there is in phone or face-to-face conversations. Speaking with someone opens up opportunities for greater insights and connections that email can’t match.
Either pick up the phone or schedule a face-to-face meeting with people that you need to speak to. Give customers a follow-up call on their recent purchase to get feedback. Or grab coffee with a mentor or colleague to catch up. Aside from serving as great learning experiences, these activities can also stimulate your brain and get you out of your slump.