Do you feel yourself losing focus, energy, and drive during work? Perhaps you didn’t get enough sleep the night before or simply feel unmotivated to handle the day’s tasks, resulting in your feeling fatigued and tired, longing for a nap.
It happens to the best of us, but with these five tips, you’ll be able to fend off the tired feeling and boost your productivity.
The body utilizes a series of chemicals to determine when we are tired and when we are alert. While caffeine will boost your body instantly, physical activity drives endorphins and adrenaline through your veins and “wakes up” your brain in a healthier way. If you’d rather not go to the gym during work hours, or don’t like gyms in general, there are a few easy ways to get active in the office.
There are a variety of stretches, but many are very simple. You can stay seated and lift your hands to the air, extending your back before bending your arms backwards, touching the back of your head. You can also stand and reach down to your toes, bouncing slightly to stretch your back, legs, and arms. After this, you can place your heel on your desk and stretch forwards to touch your toes, in a motion you may have seen used by ballerinas, stretching your legs, back, and arms. These are simple movements that will boost blood flow and make you more alert.
- Run up the stairs.
During your break, or if you need to use the copy machine, fetch a drink, or speak with a coworker, you can use the stairs to boost alertness. The activity of walking alone will make you more awake, but by breaking into a light jog, you are making your body pump more blood. The better your circulation, the better and more awake you will feel.
- Jog in place.
Like stretching, you can do this in your office. Simply stand and bounce your feet up and down in a stationary position, as if you were jogging without moving. This boosts blood flow without requiring you to leave your desk.
2. Change Your Task
Repetitive tasks end up creating a groove in our minds, allowing us to complete them without thought, making your brain turn to sleep in this inactive period. This is why you count sheep when going to sleep – you are repeating the same unchanging task over and over again. By breaking this routine, you are making your mind become more alert and this boosts productivity.
- Take a break.
Use this opportunity to retrieve a drink or a snack, take a walk around the office, or even check your personal social media. Be sure that this is a regulated amount of time — otherwise you will be wasting valuable productivity. Five minutes at a time is suitable.
- Handle a different project.
If you wish to change up your routine but don’t want to leave your duties, try switching to a different project and addressing that task. For example, if you are a graphic designer, try working on another design instead of your current one, or perhaps a different feature of your design. This allows you to re-center your focus, “reawakening” your brain while still completing your workload. This is particularly effective if you are on a deadline or have several tasks to handle throughout the day.
- Answer emails.
While answering emails can be distracting from completing actual work, it can be a helpful change of mental environment if you are feeling an afternoon lull. This allows you to engage a different part of your brain while still accomplishing important tasks.
3. Listen to Music
Listening to music keeps a portion of your brain alert while completing routine tasks, allowing you to handle projects without slipping into a lull. Music with lyrics will keep you more alert, but can also be distracting; while it’s possible to tune out the words, this can take time and concentration. It’s recommended that you listen to instrumental music like classical piano or violin, or if this is too slow, more modern and upbeat songs like dubstep. So long as it lacks lyrics, your mind will be able to tune out the distraction while still being stimulated by the sound.
4. Get Adequate Sleep
While going to work after only three hours’ sleep is an appealing concept, the most common cause of the afternoon lull is natural fatigue. Your body feels exhausted and is trying to make up for its sleep deficiency by making you sleep now, when you should be working. Be sure to sleep a healthy eight hours each night, and your body will feel well equipped for taking on the day and handling tasks without this fatigue.
5. Stay Positive
While a great deal of the lull is physical, a portion is psychological. Be sure to keep a positive attitude while you are working. This can include whispering confident pep talks to yourself as you handle tasks, congratulating yourself as each task is finished, and generally having a positive outlook on the day. While this may seem silly, a positive view generates energy, which is why you don’t feel fatigued when enjoying a hobby or eating a delicious meal — you are alert because you are excited about the activity. By being positive — or forcing yourself to be positive — your body will feel stimulated in response. For example, if you receive an extra, unexpected task, rather than being resentful about it, say “No problem, I can totally do this; and handling this will make me look like a hard worker.” This may be difficult at first, and perhaps you’ll feel silly, but it will have real results.
Everyone has moments where they feel tired at work – to the extent of coining the phrase, “Afternoon lull.” By exercising these five tips, you’ll be able to combat the fatigue and boost your productivity.
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