The afternoon slump is something that occurs daily for many office workers. Our mornings are full of energy, focus and productivity but, by late in the afternoon, we can easily lose our momentum and become too tired to remain on task.
For the majority of us, our days have become a routine which has developed out of habits we have formed. A shocking statistic from a 2006 Duke University study revealed that 40% of our activity throughout a day is the result of habit. This means that almost half our time is spent without conscious thought. With this kind of robotic behavior, is it any wonder we crash by mid to late afternoon?
The good news is, we all have the ability to replace our existing habits with healthier ones that boost our productivity and ditch the afternoon energy drain. Here are 10 ways to avoid an afternoon slump. Each can be implemented into your daily routine over time.
1. Begin the day with exercise.
The boost we get from working out better serves us if we exercise first thing in the morning. It carries our energy levels further throughout the day and sets the tone for better focus and productivity.
2. Eat a healthy breakfast.
Many of us are tempted to skip breakfast but this is a common habit that leads to a mid-afternoon energy crash. Our bodies require a steady energy replenishment to keep us balanced throughout the day. Choose breakfast foods that are high in protein and low in sugar.
3. Plan your day.
Map out your daily tasks when you first arrive at the office. Plan to do your most important work in the morning when you have more energy. Leave your small, monotonous tasks for the afternoon like cleaning your desk, shredding papers, filing your inbox and answering any remaining emails.
4. Stay hydrated.
When sitting at a desk all day, it’s easy to forget to prioritize water-intake. By the time the afternoon rolls round, your body feels dehydrated. This can lower your energy levels and causes headaches. Keep a water bottle next to you to remind yourself to drink more. Besides, refilling your water bottle is a good way to get up out of your chair and mobilize.
5. Move more.
They say sitting is the new smoking. A sedentary lifestyle is considered by some healthcare professionals to be just as bad as some other nasty habits. Go for short walks throughout the day, and when the afternoon slump hits, that’s when you know it’s time to get moving.
6. Switch to tea.
It seems tempting to resort to an afternoon cup of coffee to keep yourself focused. But if you’ve already had a morning cup – or three – then you’ve maxed out your caffeine intake for the day. Consuming too much caffeine before noon can also lead to an energy drain later in the day. Choose green tea instead. It’s rich in antioxidants, provides long-term health benefits and can even prevent diseases like diabetes.
7. Pack your own healthy lunch.
Eating a smaller, protein-packed lunch will help sustain your energy levels well into the late afternoon. Similar to breakfast, avoid sugary, fatty foods. Good carbohydrates will also help you feel fuller without leaving you feeling tired. Brown rice, quinoa and other grains are always good choices for a versatile lunch.
After you’ve eaten your healthy lunch, make it a point to head outdoors. A quick walk around the block and exposure to fresh air will give you an energy boost to push you through the rest of your day. Getting outside and clearing your mind is important for both physical and mental wellbeing.
9. Start microbreaking.
Ergonomic “microbreaking” is highly recommended for individuals who feel chained to their desks all day. Microbreaks are regular breaks you take throughout the day that stimulate bloodflow which increases your level of focus. If company policy allows for it, download a microbreak program that sets your computer on a timer and reminds you of your upcoming microbreak. Some programs will even tell you what type of movements to perform for better tissue health.
10. Sleep well.
Something as basic as sleep can be quite the challenge for many of us. However, a good night’s sleep is one of the most important habits, not only for avoiding an afternoon yawn attack, but for your overall quality of life. By consistently getting a full night’s rest, we’re able to perform better at work and maintain our mental focus.
From this list, what are the top three habits that would make the biggest difference in your work day to avoid an afternoon slump? Write yourself a reminder of your top three habits on a bright sticky note and post it at your desk. Share this list with a co-worker and help each other stay accountable for your new healthy habits. Work on it each day until it becomes part of your new routine, and you begin to feel healthier and more productive!