Making Sluggish Afternoons Work for Me


I’ve been trying like crazy to avoid caffeine lately, since drinking it makes me jittery, but one of its other great effects is productivity. For a long time, a cup of coffee was the way I jolted myself up to speed after lunch. Getting work done after lunch is now slow going, and I have to struggle to do as much in two hours as I can do with one good hour in the morning.

That being said, I’ve given myself a few new Motivation Monday tips for getting through that time of day:

Schedule Physically Active Work: I have been trying to put meetings on my schedule for afternoons, especially meetings where I have to get out of my office and go to a different building. This means a brisk (cold!) walk and a conversation, which I usually find so engaging that I won’t be tired. I also do things like hanging up posters, cleaning my office, getting and returning library books, and going out to purchase supplies during afternoons. This physically active work makes me more prepared to do mentally active work when I get back to my desk.

Get up, get water, drink it, get back to work: While water has zero caffeine in it, the activity of walking across the building to fill up a cup with water, drinking it, and getting back to work tends to revive me at least temporarily. I like it also because I am not all that good at staying hydrated, so this simple routine means that no matter how drowsy I get, I always have a little excursion option.

Use the last 15 minutes of the Day to Make Plans for the Next Day: For some reason, even my snooziest afternoon can get exciting when I get to make plans (who me? your resident productivity-and-organization blogger?). Coming up with a list of how to best utilize my morning the next day is a good way to invest in the fact that having a waiting list the next morning will make me very effective.

How do you get through the post-lunch drowsiness? I know it’d be great if all 8 hours of my workday were as productive as 9am-10am, but since they aren’t, I’m still looking for new tips!

13 Comments, RSS

  1. Janelle Zimmerman December 18, 2017 @ 1:57 pm

    I have read an apple is supposed to have the same effects as coffee. Conducted my own experiment once and it worked quite well. Add favorite kinds of apples to your list making. 😉

  2. jackcollier7 December 18, 2017 @ 2:47 pm

    Good advice. A banana is supposed to help in the afternoons. <3

  3. ashleyleia December 18, 2017 @ 3:45 pm

    When I was in university I would regularly fall asleep during 1:00 classes. Now I’ve just embraced caffeine – it’s not perfect, but it can be a good friend sometimes;)

  4. mr_fleas December 18, 2017 @ 3:59 pm

    Being English, I drink tea all day. So I’m forever sluggish! 😀

    Yes, mornings are best for me. Usually I begin work at or before 7.30 am and take lunch at 1.00 pm. One hour. I’ll just have a banana and/or an energy bar, then maybe walk outside and get some fresh air. Then I’ll talk to people about tomorrow’s workload, plan it, have a tidy up, and head home.

  5. whenparkspeaks December 18, 2017 @ 5:15 pm

    Apples are a very good way to wake yourself up. I usually have one in my car for my ride home. I am on my feet all day at work so I do not have the same problem. I tend to nod off on the way home and as I am driving that isn’t good so hence the apple.

  6. Cathryn December 18, 2017 @ 8:09 pm

    Good ideas.

  7. Christina December 19, 2017 @ 7:44 am

    Lately I’ve been struggling a lot to be productive after lunch. unfortunately, caffeine isn’t doing the trick for me, but the actual process of making some is the only thing that’s helping me. thanks for sharing your tips, I think that especially the one about making plans for the next day might be a really good idea to get my motivation back! 🙂

  8. Encore Voyage December 19, 2017 @ 6:04 pm

    Some of the smartest folks I know use the end of the day to tidy up and plan for the next day. Taking a moment to think of the three most important tasks of the next day keeps me focused. Writing in a gratitude journal keeps me grounded. ~ Lynn

  9. Bryn December 19, 2017 @ 11:17 pm

    Planning and prepping at the end of your day is a great tip I’ve seen in other comments, I stand by it! And the idea of interrupting the boredom by getting up and walking to the water sounds like a great idea to stir up the sluggish cogs in the brain. I personally find myself being far more productive after a simple little workout, and a nice long stretch!

  10. Claudette December 21, 2017 @ 3:14 pm

    I stay off anything that converts into sugar quickly, so sugar itself, and flour products. I eat something protein, like gluten free crackers with hummus, or cheese, or if I have some on hand, quinoa salad. Smoked meats or meat sticks, that kind of thing. The sugar is what I’m craving but it makes my sluggishness worse, and once I recognized that, I was able to beat it.

  11. stephenschrum January 2, 2018 @ 5:17 am

    Caffeine and I are in a very close relationship…

  12. TMH January 11, 2018 @ 5:56 am

    Good tips! Helpful to ramp up afternoon productivity! Thanks.

  13. johnandmarylivingitupinecuador January 11, 2018 @ 6:02 pm

    Being retired here in Ecuador – we simply take a siesta when we are sluggish in the afternoon. I can tell you from experience that the best siestas are taken on a hammock under a palm tree on the beach here in San Clemente. (Sorry – But I could not resist!)

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