During the workday, our energy can ebb and flow. While some of us are morning people while others do feel most productive in the evening, the “three ‘o clock” slump is experienced by many. The mid afternoon is a time when people commonly experience, fatigue, lack of concentration, and low productivity. There are biological reasons for the slump. Our blood sugar levels have dropped after the lunchtime spike, and our bodies are preparing to wind down for the day. There are many ways to prevent or address the mid-afternoon lethargy so that you can be productive until the end of the day.
Have easy, accessible, healthy snacks. One of the primary reasons for the three ‘o clock slump is a decrease in blood sugar. Having a healthy snack such as cheese, nuts, or a little bit of fruit can give you slowly increase your sugar levels to give you enough energy to get to get through the day. If you time the snack correctly, approximately an hour and a half to two hours after lunch, you can prevent the slump altogether. If you wait until you are already feeling a little spacey, a small piece of candy or sugary fruit, like a banana, can give you a quick pick me up. Coffee and other caffeinated beverages will also provide a boost of energy but beware; caffeine can also cause insomnia if consumed in the afternoon. Not getting a good night rest will only make the problem worse the next day.
Get some fresh air and go for a walk. Physical activity and natural light increase endorphins levels and serotonins levels, hormones that impact our mood and sleep/wake cycles. Spending a great deal of time in an office environment with out the opportunity to move around can affect our natural rhythms, which may make of feel fired. Getting out for some fresh air is like pushing a “reset” button, even if it is a short 5-minute walk. If you are not able to get outside, a quick walk around the office can be useful as well.
Take a check-in break. The afternoon can be a good time to check-in with colleagues. Whether it is a work-related topic, or just checking in to see how they are doing, having a conversation with a co-worker can be a useful way to get over the three o’clock slump. There is a good chance that your colleagues would appreciate a short distraction to as well. It may lead to a great brainstorm that generates new ideas.
Make your energy match your schedule. When possible, plan tasks that give you energy in the early afternoon. If clearing out your inbox gives you a pick me up, set aside some time to answer emails. If meeting with colleagues re-energizes you, schedule meetings in the early afternoon. For some, setting aside time to manage your to-do list allows you to refocus. Whatever tasks give you some space to reset, scheduling during the afternoon slump can help you be productive.