Ah, the 3:30 slump. Lunch has been over for hours, but you’re nowhere near the end of the workday. Your eyelids are heavy, your brain is drained, and you can’t seem to focus on your tasks. You shouldn’t drink coffee because you won’t be able to sleep at night, and you can’t take a nap at your desk because you’ll get fired.
You can get through it! Taking a walk, eating a healthy snack, or just picking up around your desk can help. With a few tweaks, you’ll be as bright eyed and bushy tailed as you were at 10 a.m.
1. Drink Cold Water
I like coffee. A lot. In the same way some people are passionate about politics or marathon running, I am passionate about coffee. So I know the price I will pay for a cup of my beloved coffee at 3:30. I don’t mean the cash price of coffee at a café. I mean the price I pay later that night as I try to get some needed shut-eye and the price I pay the next morning.
Learn from my mistakes. No matter how tempting, don’t reach for that coffee when you need a jolt in the afternoon. A glass of cold water can give you a boost without haunting you in the evening.
2. Walk Around the Office
Typical advice for afternoon slumps usually involves something about a walk around the block. That’s all well and good if you live in an area with a temperate climate, but if you’re in, say, Texas, a walk at 3:30 in the afternoon isn’t advisable most of the year. But most offices are blessed with indoor climate control, so if you’re feeling tired or out of it, you can take a stroll down the hallway whether it’s August in Texas or December in Michigan.
3. Have a Healthy Snack Ready
So many of us have felt a yawn coming on and reached for a salty, overly processed treat to keep us going until dinner. These snacks cause more harm than good, causing blood sugar to spike and crash. They turn the 3:30 slump into the 4:30 slump, and we just end up feeling worse.
Don’t let this happen to you. Come to the office prepared with fruit, yogurt, a hard-boiled egg, or any snack that doesn’t have a list of ingredients as long as your arm. This way, you can truly beat an energy crash instead of delay it.
Sometimes, a walk around the office isn’t an option. Areas may be under construction, you might use a wheelchair or have other mobility issues, or you could work in a cramped space where walking around wouldn’t be pleasant. If any of these situations apply to you, consider the humble stretch. Just reaching your arms above your head, doing some shoulder circles, or reaching for your toes can improve circulation and shake off the afternoon blahs.
5. Clean Your Desk
This tip might remind you of your mom yelling at you to clean your bedroom, but it works. Whenever you feel that afternoon lethargy creep in, take a deep breath and break out the disinfectant wipes. Take a coffee mug to the break room, organize paperwork, or water the plant on your desk. A moment away from the computer can help you recharge, and your focus will be stronger in a tidy, clean environment.
6. Write or Doodle in a Journal
If you’ve taken a walk, touched your toes, cleaned your desk, and eaten an apple and still feel your frontal lobe melting down, it’s time to change tactics. Find a notepad or some paper, and start writing. The subject doesn’t matter. Just get your hand moving, and pretty soon, you’ll feel back on track.
If you don’t enjoy writing, you can draw. Draw a cat, a pretty outdoor scene, Abraham Lincoln…whatever gets you doodling. All you need to do is give your brain a chance to refocus.
7. Switch Projects
If you’ve been working on the same project all day without making much progress, give it a rest, and switch to another work task. Making progress on a different task can alleviate some pressure or stress you might be feeling, so you can get back to that first project with a revived and confident mind.
You don’t have to turn into a zombie every afternoon. You don’t have to tape your eyelids open at 3:30 each day to stay awake. By taking a few moments to stretch, snack, and recharge, you can beat the slump and continue to dominate your day.