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Are you familiar with the afternoon slump? Just when you need your productivity to ramp up, it comes to a crashing halt! That’s not fun for anyone, is it?
This is a very common problem, and it has to do with a natural midday dip in your body’s circadian rhythm. There’s ways to work around this effect, or at least make it feel more manageable.
That’s what we’ll be diving into here, so you can learn how to beat the afternoon slump successfully!
This post is all about how to beat the afternoon slump
What causes the afternoon slump?
This is mostly physiological, as I mentioned that your circadian rhythm naturally dictates increased fatigue in the afternoon, between 1-4pm. This circadian rhythm is also pretty set in stone by your body’s biology.
So you can’t exactly get rid of it entirely, but there are plenty of environmental factors that can make an impact on staying focused during the afternoon!
Keep reading to learn about the steps you can take to beat the afternoon slump!
Here’s the best ways to beat the afternoon slump.
1. Be wise with the caffeine
I’m sure your natural temptation is to reach for caffeine as soon as the afternoon slump hits you. Not so fast! You’ll wish you hadn’t when the night rolls around.
A study from the Journal for Sleep Medicine found that consuming caffeine, even as far as SIX hours away from your bedtime, can negatively impact the quantity and quality of your sleep.
And if you find that you’re especially sensitive to caffeine, that’s all the more reason to stay away from it once the morning is over. I find that if I make the mistake of drinking coffee in the afternoon, I’ll get that “wired but tired” feeling when it’s time to fall asleep.
If you really must, a better afternoon drink choice would be tea. Choose a tea that has a limited amount of caffeine. For example, half of what you would find in a cup of coffee.
2. Get some bright light
Light in general can help improve alertness, but blue light specifically can help your alertness the most. Look for blue light that mimics natural daylight.
When I’m not using my LED lights for fun colors, I almost always have them set to the “natural daylight” setting. I can definitely say it helps improve my focus and energy! I highly recommend these light strips in your work space for this purpose!
3. Get active–even if just for a few minutes
Okay, I know it’s not realistic to do a full blown workout routine in the middle of the day, especially if you don’t work from home. (I don’t think your boss would be too happy about you doing jumping jacks in the break room!)
And you don’t have to! Even just taking a quick 10-minute walk outside is enough to have an impact on your energy levels. This study showed that participants experienced mood improvements even after stepping outside for 5 minutes.
4. Try the Pomodoro Technique
Ever heard of this one? The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique where you work in short (typically 25 minute) bursts, followed by short breaks.
Research shows that brief breaks can vastly improve your focus. This will also help you view your workload as more manageable, which will prevent your midday motivation from taking a nosedive.
I know that slogging my way through seemingly endless piles of work makes my motivation tank by midday. Breaking up tasks the way the Pomodoro Technique shows you to do can really help!
Below is a book all about the Pomodoro Technique and how it can help you get your focus back!
5. If you can, schedule your tasks around the afternoon
Or at least schedule lower energy tasks for the afternoon. If you recognize that you’re often sluggish in the afternoon, go easy on yourself. Reserve the harder or more involved tasks for the morning or evening.
And if you have greater flexibility over your scheduling, you might be able to avoid working during the afternoon altogether and stretch your work out later into the evening.
6. Switch tasks
If it’s 2pm and you’re still working on the same task from early this morning, switch it up! It’s going to be harder to maintain your focus on the same task that has been dragging out for hours.
Shift gears once the afternoon hits and try working on a different task. It can be easier to shift your focus to something new than to stick things out when you’re bored or tired!
Pssst…need help laying out your tasks in a way that makes sense for you? If you want a head start on actually improving your productivity and focus, sign up for my newsletter below and get the FREE productive day planner sent straight to your inbox!
Want a head start on actually improving your organization and productivity? ...and want it free? Sign up for my newsletter below to get the FREE productive day planner sent straight to your inbox!
7. Listen to music and tailor it to what you’re doing
Music can be the perfect pick-me-up to help us get through the afternoon slump. But did you know that the type of music we choose can have different benefits?
- For boring, repetitive tasks you go on auto-pilot for, choose music you know and love. By doing so, you boost your efficiency and mood! Since a lower amount of focus is required, songs with lyrics are usually okay here.
- When you have to read, write, or take in information, choose instrumentals. If you’re doing something that requires a higher level of focus, or involves looking at words, avoid lyrics. Instead, instrumentals have been shown to increase performance. I know there’s nooo way I can manage to listen to lyrics while I’m writing blog posts 😂 Lofi beats for me, please!
- When you’re doing work you enjoy, put on your most favorite hype music to match! It can be highly motivating to listen to upbeat music you love if you’re doing work that you’re skilled at! Truly goes hand in hand.
8. Pay attention to how your lunch affects you
Different diets and food choices affect everyone differently, so pay attention to if carbs make you sluggish, or if your salad just leaves you hangry and unable to focus.
Choose a lunch that’s made up of foods that help you feel your best! Protein is usually a good choice for feeling sustained and energized throughout the afternoon.
Implementing some of these small habit changes can help you beat the afternoon slump (at least, to some degree!) and take charge of your focus!
While we can’t alter our natural circadian rhythm, a lot of the factors on this list we do have control over are environmental. So simple adjustments like lighting, movement, and task choice can make all the difference.
Best of luck finding your way through the afternoon slump!