You’ve had one of those days. You wake up early, get to work with time to spare, feeling sharp and on-point. You check off item after item on your to do list and it feels AMAZING. Everything just flows.
Then you go to lunch.
Sluggish, distracted, and a little bit sleepy – you stumble back to your desk after lunch and do your best to stay awake; forget about being productive.
The options are slim and usually not very healthy. Coffee. Sugar. Facebook.
You’re packing on the pounds or attracting the wrong kind of attention from your supervisor.
While every body is different and what works to keep you sharp and on point will vary from just about everyone else, here are six tips I’ve used at different points in my career to avoid the post-lunch crash and stay as productive as I was during the morning.
Eat Small Snacks in the Morning (and no sugar)
One of the reasons for the post-lunch crash is a sudden spike and then drop in blood sugar. It can happen right away if you eat little or nothing all morning and then down a large lunch, or it can hit a little later if you eat a lot of sugar in your breakfast and then none for lunch.
Split up your breakfast into something light when you leave the house, a granola bar at 9am, some almonds at 10am, and some pieces of dried fruit at 11. Not only does this keep you moving all morning, it avoids the rising and falling blood sugar problem that rips a hole in the productivity of so many people.
Schedule a Call Right After Lunch
This isn’t exactly fun, but it can help keep you on point in a number of ways. Schedule something stressful for yourself right after lunch. The stress of a tough phone call, meeting, or overdue project will kick in the adrenaline and you’ll wake right up. Just beware of crashes later in the day.
Go for a Walk at 3pm
Prime time for post-lunch crashing is 3pm. So before you start to feel sluggish, go for a short walk. If you need coffee, go out for a cup. If you don’t, just go for a walk around the block to keep the blood flowing. The more frequently you get up from your desk the better.
Produce Something Immediately After Eating
That sleepy feeling is physiological, but it is possible to trick your body into coming back from the brink with a little creative thinking. Jump start your creative centers by doing something challenging right after you eat. Write that blog post you’ve been putting off. Work on that brochure that’s been on the back burner. Get your mind into overdrive and you’ll power through the doldrums.
Turn Off the Internet and Your Email
Whenever I get sleepy and sluggish, I start cycling through my inbox over and over again, doing the thing that my mind can do with the least input. To break the cycle, I’ll turn off the Internet and close my email – even if only for 20 minutes. This forces me to focus on a single task for a certain period of time and often jump starts my mind back to where it needs to be.
Create a Special Post-Lunch To Do List
Another common problem I once had after lunch was procrastination. I’d look at my remaining to do list and feel immediately overwhelmed by how much stuff was on it. So instead of doing it, I’d check email, get up to ask questions I could just have easily written in a message, and otherwise distract myself.
To combat this, I now create a custom “after-lunch” to do list with one or two creative-intensive tasks and a few others simple, mindless tasks that will keep me busy and optimize productivity during a time I know I’ll be a little out of it.
If you recognize your shortcomings in the hour or so after lunch and plan your schedule around them, it will be MUCH easier to stay focused, avoid falling behind, and generate energy, even when your body rebels – all without loading up on sugary snacks and caffeinated drinks.
Now it’s your turn. What do you do after lunch to stay on point? Are you having specific problems staying productive in the second half of the day? Share your comments below – let’s help each other overcome that mid-day slump together.