We’ve all experienced the ‘Afternoon Energy Cliff’, when all of a sudden it feels like you have hit a brick wall and even the simplest work related task seems insurmountable. People generally fall off the cliff during the mid-afternoon, around 3pm, as the energy from their lunch meals wears off and they naturally start to fatigue as the day drags on. As Steven Covey put it so well with his ‘Sharpen the Saw’ analogy, rather than trying to battle through this state everyday, it is much more productive to make some small tweaks to your workday routine to renew and re-energise yourself in order to get the most out of the last few hours of the workday.
Take A Walk
To combat afternoon slumps in enthusiasm and focus, take a walk during your lunch hour. Studies have found that even a gentle stroll at lunchtime can boost people’s mood & ability to handle stress and heavy workloads in the afternoon. Beyond helping to clear headspace and getting some air into your lungs, walking also provides an opportunity to interact with co-workers in a social setting outside of the office environment - which can be beneficial in improving teamwork and collaboration. A walk can be just as productive when everything gets too much in the afternoon. As little as 10 minutes away from your desk, out in the sunshine and fresh air can set you up for the rest of the day.
During a busy workday, reaching for an unhealthy snack can appear to be the easiest option when your stomach starts to rumble. However, the fuel that you put into your body can have a huge impact on your afternoon productivity. Sugary soft drinks, sweet biscuits or a chocolate bar may give you a quick energy hit, but this will quickly wear off and you will be right back where you started soon after. By carefully selecting your afternoon snack you can give yourself the boost you need and the best chance to power through to the end of the day. Bananas, berries and nuts are great snack alternatives which can be just as convenient as their sugar laden cousins.
Schedule Work Around The Waves
Within each of our jobs, we have tasks which we really enjoy and energise us and those tasks which we need to complete but can we find real drag. How you schedule your daily tasks can have a huge impact on your energy levels. If you leave tasks which you consider to be mundane until the afternoon when your energy starts to flag, even the simplest task can seem all too hard. Alternatively, if you schedule something which you really enjoy for this time it can really assist to keep you engaged and on the ball. A little bit of planning at the start of the day can really help to match the timing of work with your energy cycles.
While none of these small tweaks appear groundbreaking, they can each make a huge difference to how you make it through the day. With a little bit of pre-planning you can avoid the Afternoon Energy Cliff and power through the day knocking things off your to do list.
What other tricks do you use to help fight through the afternoon as your energy starts to wane? Feel free to write a comment to share your tips.