If you are anything like me, you must be finding it hard to maintain your focus and energy through the 8-hour work stretch and afterwards at home. Do you feel like you are ‘ready to take on the world’ every morning, only to face a sharp slump in energy levels as the afternoon rolls on? I take solace in extra coffee shots that do give me short bursts of energy but they are just that – short bursts. After the effect wears down, I again get back to experiencing that dragging feeling, wondering how on earth I am supposed to cope up with the rest of the day and evening, till I hit my bed at night. Bed, oh it evokes such relief in me that I’d love to jump in to mine right away – if only I didn’t have a million personal and office tasks vying for my attention!
Tony Schwartz, founder and CEO of The Energy Project says, it is only possible to manage one’s time to a certain extent – for it is a finite and one of the scarcest resource. Energy, on the other hand is a renewable resource and can be managed with personal energy management techniques.
How to Overcome the Afternoon Lull and What to Do in That Time
Almost everyone experiences a crash in their energy levels by the afternoon, though the extent, symptoms, and causes vary from person to person. Here are 5 personal energy management tips to overcome the afternoon slump and be productive in that time:
#1 Tailor your schedule to your energy levels: Our energy levels are regulated by ‘Ultradian Rhythms’ – the first energy dip occurs soon after lunch, hitting a rock bottom at 3 PM, thereafter it picks up and energy peaks again at around 6 PM, after which it decreases steadily through the rest of the evening, hitting the lowest at 3:30 AM. To match your work schedule to your personal energy levels, schedule tasks requiring high alertness before mid-day, routine tasks/meetings for afternoon, and brainstorming sessions during early evening. If you are one of those who are always running after deadlines and chasing clients, hire a virtual assistant to chart out a schedule for your workday so you can maintain balanced energy levels throughout.
#2 Get off that chair and move: Sitting for too long has come to be known as ‘the new smoking’ for its potential health hazards – from joint and muscle fatigue to vision problems, weight gain, sluggish blood flow, etc. Schedule an intentional break in the afternoon and go for a walk/do chair exercises/hit the office gym/practise yoga, listen to some soothing music, catch your favourite podcast, socialize with colleagues or just close your eyes and meditate on your desk and get some much needed inner peace.
#3 Eat and drink for the mind, not belly: Snacking is as important as napping, but the trick lies in doing it right – you don’t want to crash again after 20 minutes by all that sugar-rush to your brain! Snack on stress reducing superfoods such as walnuts, fruits, and almonds that are low in sugar and carbohydrate content, yet pack in a load of protein to give you sustainable energy to last the rest of the day. Likewise, a beverage to stay hydrated is also of paramount importance – again avoid sugar-laden canned juices and caffeine and opt for fresh juices with no added sugar.
#4 Nap, if only for 15 minutes: Taking a power nap at work is slowly becoming a popular trend as companies realize that employees not only feel energized to work after one, but are also more creative and innovative in their ideas. Global brands such as Uber, Google, Zappos, and others are waking up to what research has long trumpeted – the advantages of an afternoon nap far outweigh its cons in terms of time loss.
#5 Leverage procrastination to your advantage: Yes, it’s possible to productively procrastinate – all you have to do is learn how. Rather than working to completely get rid of this habit, you can use it to do high priority tasks first, improve concentration, and even manage to be productive in that lull of the mind.
Replace Energy Depleting Habits with Energy Renewing Ones
The key to maximizing your personal energy is to identify what causes it to deplete – is it your hectic work schedule, personal issues, improper diet and sleep patterns, lack of exercise, etc.? Then, go on to carefully weed out every negative factor by replacing it with a positive one and you will begin to see the results!