Even if you’ve had the most wonderful sleep, in the afternoon there comes a point where your brain switches off and you’re wondering how you’re going to get through the rest of the day. There are lots of things you can do to avoid the 2pm slump, but which ones are best to ensure you don’t end up crashing even harder later? And how can we best channel our energy to focus on achieving our best work? We spoke to Jordan, a productivity and health mentor who helps service providers optimise their time and health. She believes that we can live the dream we want now, without burnout and is here to help us.
Which Type of Energy Slump Are You Dealing With?
#1 “I drink a lot of coffee in the morning and then stop in the early afternoon because I want to sleep at night. However, I always find it hard to say awake and productive after 2pm! Should I carry on drinking coffee?”
Jordan: Every single person has a specific circadian rhythm. This is your individual body’s ebb and flow throughout the day. We are not productive all day, no human is. The average person is productive for 3 hours and 52 minutes per day. Depending on what time you are waking up and your body’s circadian rhythm, these 2-4 hours could be happening before 2pm. Now, certain things can have an effect on our daily peaks and valleys of productivity like caffeine. The recommended amount of caffeine for an adult is 400mg which equals about 4-5 brewed cups of coffee per day.
Personally, what I would do is start paying attention to when you are most productive during your day and schedule your high focus tasks into those time blocks. Then after 2pm, schedule your “shallow” work. Things like emails, social media etc. If late afternoon coffee messes with your sleep I wouldn’t add it to your afternoons since a solid eight hours is crucial for our productivity.
You can add snacks that have natural energy like apples, bananas and sweet potatoes instead of coffee. I personally have a double espresso in the morning and one espresso at 1 pm plus I am snacking every 2-3 hours to keep my blood sugar level.
#2 “I just don’t seem to have any motivation past 3 pm. I have always found I’m much better in the mornings and that the last two hours of my working day are just wasted. Is there anything I can do for some instant energy?”
Jordan: There are a couple of things that you can do to optimise your workflow. Scheduling effectively is one. Put your big to-dos in where you are most productive. A lot of us check out emails first thing in the morning, wasting our most productive hours on shallow tasks. When really by the sounds of it you should be wrapping up your day with “shallow” work. This is work that can be done in a state of distraction.
Organise your to-do list by highest to lowest focus and schedule high focus in the AM and low focus after 3 pm. To optimise your energy it is a good idea to take small 5-10minute breaks, just like our muscles need rest to grow and recover, so does our brain. These breaks are away from ALL tech and media and are just for you to rest, even if it is a walk for 5 minutes, just get away from it all. Also incorporating snacks throughout your day that are designed to help your body with energy and focus. Snacks like dark chocolate squares, carrots and hummus, apples, bananas, almonds etc. All these snacks give your body what it needs.
#3 “My brain switches off after lunch. I’m not particularly healthy so I’m wondering if it’s that? Sometimes I just don’t eat lunch because I know I will be able to concentrate better!”
Jordan: Eating habits have a huge part to play in productivity! Not eating at all is giving your body nothing to work with, just like a car running on fumes. A couple of things you can do…
One, having well-balanced nutrition throughout the day will boost your productivity. It keeps your blood sugar level especially if you’re snacking on the right things like eggs, carrots and hummus, apples, bananas, almonds, peanut butter, green tea etc. These all have nutritional components that aid in focus and energy.
Two, when you are feeling less productive, take more small breaks. Your brain needs to rest; limit multitasking, step completely away from work for 5 minutes every hour.
Three, hydration. WATER IS KEY. Water can boost productivity by up to 20%. It also helps you sleep better, think clearer and has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety.. so drink up!
#4 “I find it really difficult to finish things. I start with good intentions and look forward to the end result. However, I start strong and then end up procrastinating until the final hour I’m due to finish it, leading to a rushed end product. How can I fix this?”
Jordan: Procrastination can come from a couple of places. Fear, Perfectionism or the task is still too big a picture and can look overwhelming. Procrastination is a coping mechanism used by the brain to protect us from negative emotions. If it is a big project I would maybe unpack all three options as to why you’re procrastinating. Is there a fear? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Perfectionism? Am I not doing this because it won’t come out the way I envision? It won’t be perfect in the end so if I don’t do the task I won’t have to be faced with that?
If the project is still too big a picture I would break everything down into the simplest form but backwards.
- Start with the end in mind – what do you want the result to be?
- Reverse engineer the steps
- Break down each step into the smallest task possible
- Start working away. Smaller tasks give us momentum and make it seem more achievable.
Know that procrastination is a habit, you are not a procrastinator (and if you’re calling yourself this STOP). We are too complex for labels. Start to notice at what points you start to procrastinate and really question the WHY and if there is some inner unpacking that may need to be done.
Jordan is currently offering The Productivity Lab, a programme to instill healthy habits in you and your business! You can find out more here.