Updated: May 16, 2020
We’ve all felt it. You know, the lethargic feeling that overwhelms you after you’ve had that extended lunch break.
Trying to refocus your mind and sit back down at your desk (or bed, couch, wherever the makeshift desk is nowadays) to complete several more hours of work or study doesn’t seem so appealing when you’ve got plenty to distract you at home.
So, how can we overcome the afternoon dip? Is it possible? Well, we think there are certainly things you can do to help maximise your productivity for the hours that you’re working.
1. Prioritise your tasks
Be strategic. Don’t leave all your complex and harder tasks for the afternoon when you’re the least productive. At the start of the day set out your goals and aim to tackle the tasks that require the most concentration when you’re fresh and switched on.
There’s nothing worse than getting back to your desk after lunch knowing you’ve got to start writing an essay or compiling a report requiring statistical analysis. That’s no fun. Aim to get your essay written in the morning, for example, and just use the afternoon to read over it and make any necessary amendments. Do the bulk of the work in the morning when you’re at peak concentration.
2. Eat a healthy and balanced lunch
There’s nothing worse than trying to prepare yourself for an afternoon of study or work on a heavy stomach. Two large bowls of pasta for lunch might sound like a tasty idea, but you’re likely to feel uncomfortable and lethargic once you’ve eaten it.
According to Business Insider, eating too many empty carbs (food high in sugar but low in protein), our blood-sugar levels spike, but when they drop several hours later we experience a “crash” in energy levels. Additionally, eating too much fat can make us feel tired, because our body has to work harder to break them down.
So, aim to eat a balanced lunch, an equal amount of protein and carbs. The protein helps to protect your blood sugar from sharp peaks and falls and keeps energy levels steady.
Getting up at regular intervals and moving around will help boost your energy levels. Even just 10 minutes of walking around, climbing the stairs, doing jumping jacks or stretching at your desk help to get oxygen flowing and helps your body and mind overcome fatigue.
It’s important to factor exercise into your routine, so when you plan your daily goals, make sure that exercise is one of them. If you are able to go outside, fresh air and a change of scenery are also great ways to improve your mood and focus.
4. Give yourself a treat
If you’ve got a lengthy (or boring) task to complete, knowing you’ve got a fun reward at the end of it is almost certainly a motivating factor. Perhaps you can treat yourself to a film on Netflix or get on a Zoom call with friends? Whatever it is, the reward will help you stay on track with your work and push you to complete the task at hand!
5. Listen to music
Music can help us get creative, focus or even stay productive when tackling boring tasks. According to a study in the Journal of Music Therapy, listening to your favourite type of music lowers your perception of tension, making you more likely to be happier and productive during stressful situations (like study or work).
Music genres differ from person to person, an upbeat track might get one person moving and energised, while a laid-back beat could help someone else clear his or her mind and focus.
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