If you’ve just returned from your lunch break only to find that the clock is moving slower than ever, you can’t focus, and your desk feels like a great place to get some shut-eye, you might be suffering from the dreaded afternoon slump. Yes friends, this unfortunate predicament can have a negative effect on your productivity, leaving you feeling stressed and frustrated. Here are some tips to help you stay energetic throughout the day.
Monitor Your Productivity
If you find yourself feeling fatigued after lunch, try implementing a productivity application. There are a ton of free productivity apps out there, such as Todoist, Nook Calendar, and Toggl Track, just to name a few. These applications let you schedule tasks and track the time it takes to complete them, making it easier to set priorities and stay on track. In less serious cases of fatigue, simply having a plan and sticking to it will help you stay productive.
Depending on your chosen career, you might be physically active all day long, or you might be sitting at a desk for the better portion of the day. If you fall under the latter category, it’s very easy for fatigue to set in, especially during the afternoon hours. In order to combat feelings of fatigue throughout the day, take walks at regular intervals. For example, you could set aside five minutes every hour to get up, stretch your legs and arms, and walk to get a snack or a glass of water. The key here is consistency, as the more you move your body, the more immune to fatigue you’ll become.
An Active, Healthy Lunch
How you decide to spend your lunch break can have a serious impact on your energy levels in the afternoon. It can be far too easy to rush in the morning, skip breakfast (more on that later), and order a giant hamburger for lunch. Giant burgers are great, but they will wreak havoc on your energy in the afternoon hours. Whenever possible, pack a healthy lunch—this will keep you feeling great, and you’ll save a ton of money in the long run.
If you’re looking to go out for lunch, identify healthy spots. For an added bonus, choose lunch spots that are within walking distance so you can get some exercise in. Whether you stay in or go out, spend at least some of your lunch break outside. The sunshine will remind your body that it’s daytime, and after spending time in the sun, you’ll find that you have more energy. Keep in mind that all of this depends on the weather, so take the time to plan your day before you leave the house.
Now that you’ve got yourself all set up with a productivity app, create a plan for the day. A great tactic for maintaining high energy is saving collaborative tasks for the afternoon. As the day goes on, tasks you might complete on your own, such as researching or answering emails, may contribute to fatigue; however, when you’re working with other people, you’ll be required to speak and listen, forcing you to focus and ultimately leading to an increase in energy.
Crank Some Tunes
Now, when we say “crank,” we mean with headphones and at a safe volume. Nevertheless, music is an incredible tool when it comes to altering your mindset and boosting your energy. For example, an energetic and uplifting song may put some “pep in your step,” as they say. Classical music, such as works by Mozart or Chopin, are proven to improve concentration, and are great for complex tasks. Get creative, make yourself a nice afternoon playlist, and get cracking—as long as your employer allows it.
Take a Nap
If you’re feeling particularly fatigued, your lunch break can be used as a sort of “emergency nap time.” This tactic should only be used when it’s absolutely necessary, as a consistent lack of activity will eventually lead to further fatigue. If you’re going to take a nap, it’s best to do it somewhere off-site, such as in your car, and don’t let yourself sleep for more than 20 or 30 minutes. After a quick nap, you’ll feel rejuvenated, but don’t make a habit of it if you’re looking to make long-term improvements.
At the risk of sounding like a 1980s public service announcement delivered by none other than Mr. T., breakfast is by far the most important meal of your day. Breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day, and by front-loading calories you’ll have plenty of energy going into the afternoon. As always, choose healthy foods that are high in protein and rich in nutrients, and whenever possible, prepare your breakfast at home. Of course, this requires you to give yourself plenty of time before work, which leads us to our last entry.
Get Enough Sleep
We talk a lot about getting enough rest, and that’s because establishing a healthy, consistent sleep pattern leads to increased productivity, enhanced focus and motivation, and improved mood and overall health. For sleep to be most effective, get to bed and wake up at the same times each day, and give yourself plenty of time in the morning to prepare for your day. By getting into a nice groove with your sleep schedule, you’ll find yourself feeling fatigued less often.
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