How to avoid the afternoon slump

All of us are familiar with that mental wall that we hit in the afternoon. For me, I find I tend to hit this barrier at around 3-4 ish, but depending on the schedule of your day and when you wake up, the time you experience the ‘afternoon slump’ could vary. Whatever time you experience it, there is no denying that the afternoon slump is a very real, irritating problem for all of us, and it can leave you feeling demotivated and ready to give it up for the day, even when you know you’re only half way done on your to do list. Research by the NHS has suggested that 2.16pm is the most unproductive time in the work day- it is a real, scientifically proven issue, so don’t feel bad about struggling with this! When I hit the afternoon slump, I tend to reach directly for the coffee, but quite often once that wears off I’m left feeling worse than before. So, I decided to embark on a journey to start trying some different things to help give me a boost to avoid that dreaded time in the afternoon. I’ve complied a list of tips and tricks to help you remain productive throughout the day and avoid that sluggish feeling that is all too common.

My first tip is to start scheduling your day. Planning out your day may seem like it has no correlation to the afternoon slump, but I’ve found a way of organising my tasks to ensure even whilst my energy is low, I am still maintaining productivity. At the beginning of the day write out a list of all your tasks, the key part here is to include all the little errands as well, like changing the bedding or posting a parcel. Plan out the order of your tasks and schedule all your low effort tasks (changing the bedding etc) in the time when your energy is at it’s lowest. Even if you don’t like having a rigid plan, this can still work for you, as long as you have a rough rule in your head that you won’t continue with your hardest task at the slump time, and you have an alternative set of things to get on with, it will work.

Create a routine. Once you have identified your slump time, create a non negotiable habit you will complete every day at this time, and make sure you associate this habit with energy and revitalisation. For example, you could schedule a 10 minute walk or a quick stretch to give yourself, mainly your mind, a break and chance to refresh. When you’re in the slump nothing looks less appealing than exercise, but if you create a quick habit then it will become easier, and can be a nice way to wake yourself up- especially if you manage to get outside. I understand this can be hard if you are at school or if you have a meeting, but if this is the case then maybe create a slightly smaller, more subtle ritual to help you. Perhaps make a rule that at 3pm everyday you will drink a glass of cold water; this is achievable in any setting as you can bring a water bottle along with you, or you could swap this out for an energy bar. By having a little daily ritual you complete at this time you can start associating it with energy and giving yourself a boost, and this can help signal to your body it is time to refocus again.

My last tip would be to stimulate your senses. When I start to feel myself heading towards the dreaded ‘wall’, I act fast and do something to change it up. I’ll open a window to let some fresh air in, even if it’s cold- sometimes it being cold actually works to your advantage! Or I’ll put an essential oil, like peppermint, into my diffuser to switch up my surroundings. To take it to the next level you could move your position, like moving to a different room in the house or switching where you’re sat. I do this when I’m revising and it does help me refocus and refresh as it feels like a new session! If you cannot do this, pick something else to awaken your senses, like some minty chewing gum or a nice cold drink. Whatever you choose is up to you but switching up your environment, whether it be internal or external, can help keep your body awake and working efficiently.

Do you have any tips to combat the afternoon slump? If so, be sure to leave a comment below!

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