It’s almost a ritual in the workplace. The ubiquitous mid-afternoon slump that gets to all of us, no matter how fresh we feel bouncing into the office at 9am. So how do we counteract this threat to productivity in simple and realistic ways when all we seem capable of doing is daydreaming or, worse, nodding off in the boardroom?
Mid afternoon fatigue does not discriminate. That snappy morning where you tick all the boxes and feel satisfied with your efficient performance in the workplace can just as quickly have you suddenly hit the wall and stare at the clock wistfully.
Don’t despair. Technology and some old fashioned planning will allow you to ward off the awful afternoon work slump.
Resort to caffeine
Whether you prefer coffee or tea, there are two products on the market that will remotely satisfy your cravings. The iKettle 2.0 is so clever you can use your smartphone to remotely fire it up from your desk, leaving you with the simple (but important) task of stretching your legs to go collect your ready made cuppa. If coffee is your indulgence, you are in for a treat.
The Smarter Coffee Machine allows you to once again dial in a freshly ground cup of coffee made to perfection, whilst you clear up that final paper work at your desk because that deadline is looming ominously. Making up to twelve cups, it can suit both the home office or crowded workplace with its state-of-the-art technology. Also don’t forget to keep your water bottle filled at all times. By the time you’re thirsty, you’re already very dehydrated.
Allow yourself a break
Whether it be bringing in delicious home made snacks such as homemade trail mix or protein snacks (not anything high in GI that will leave you in a salt/carb coma), striking a yoga pose or three, or listening to a TED talk, the point is to carve out some break time. Set your smartphone to time your break and totally give yourself over to it. You might find that spraying yourself with a water spritzer to refresh your face and stretch your legs will allow you to make the most of your 15 minutes of peace. These tactics are part of a theory that we are far more efficient when our brains have had a short hiatus. Rub your temples and pulse points with rosemary, lemongrass, mandarin or lavender oils to help with alertness and relaxation respectively. Or you might find that a hilarious meme can be just as effective. Laughter is a tonic after all.
Get up and moving
If you’re snowed under with paperwork and just can’t get outside for a 10 minute sojourn to feel the sun on your face, try some of the following activities.
No, you don’t need to practice downward dog in a particularly crowded office, but a few basic stretches can work wonders. Again there are a multitude of fabulous apps to choose from if inspiration is required. A likely scenario at this pointy end of the day.
This is a series of excellent visuals of effective desk exercises. These moves can be repeated in blocks throughout the day so you can keep active without moving too much. Women should be aware that a restrictive skirt might rule a few exercises out, but there are plenty of others to do at your work station.
1 Minute Desk Workout
With over 45 types of exercise, this is a popular app that features a reminder every hour at the office. Release tension while sitting at your desk, in a meeting, or waiting for a conference call.
Get a dopamine lift
It may sound counter-productive but a good way of raising your dopamine levels is to plug in with a pair of headphones (I recommend Nervana headphones). Not only does the fact that you are wearing headphones signify that you are in the zone and prohibit interruption, but it also makes you happier. It works in mysterious ways, but rest assured the vagus nerve is stimulated, which increases our dopamine and serotonin. This in turn counteracts those stress inducing jolts of cortisol and adrenalin, leaving you more zen and allowing you to still enjoy your favourite tunes.
Divide your day into blocks of time
Sometimes we can get so overwhelmed at work that we look at the work in front of us and slump into a heap. Once again, your phone can help with some amazing time management apps. Our favourite is The Pomodoro Technique. The simple concept of focusing your full attention in 25-minute bursts and taking brief, deliberate breaks, is a powerful tool for turning big tasks into manageable ones. Suddenly that 3pm slump turns into something less overwhelming as you turn your attention to achieving those last few outstanding tasks. Keep it simple and doable, and tackle those more intricate tasks in the morning.
So when those 3pm blues strike, it can be as simple as eating the right food, stretching, going for a quick walk, allowing technology to work in your favour and breaking your day into blocks of time. Before you know it will be home time and you’ll be leaving satisfied and in one piece.