Feeling that 3 p.m. brain drain? We’ve all been there and it sucks the productivity right out of your day. But instead of sitting at your desk trying to force yourself to focus, take a break, do something else. Sometimes all you need is a distraction to rejuvenate your brain and give you the energy boost you need to finish the day strong.
We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council to give us their tried-and-true tips for staying alert and productive in the sleepy post-lunch hours of the day.
Related: Boost Your Energy Now
1. Stand, or change your scenery.
At our headquarters, each desk is a convertible sit-stand desk. If I feel an afternoon slump coming on, I adjust my desk to standing and work on my feet—or I move to one of our open work areas. It provides mental and physical rejuvenation in the afternoon and helps keep me alert and focused.
—Chuck Cohn, Varsity Tutors
2. Send a thank-you email.
The best way to combat a slump is by getting something done. Instead of tackling a tough issue that you’re likely to give up on midway through, send one sincere thank-you email to someone who has helped you on your journey. The exercise will re-energize you, reframe your thoughts toward gratitude, and give you the boost you need to tackle the tougher things on your afternoon to-do list.
—Brittany Hodak, ZinePak
3. Embrace it.
I find that I work well in the morning and at night. I used to beat myself up in the afternoon for being ineffective. Now I accept it. If I feel like going for a walk, I do. Reading sports news? Yup. If I have critical work and I just can’t do it, I know I’m in for a long night. But it’s better for me to be happy all day (resting in the afternoon and working later) than stressing.
4. Step back and reorganize.
The best way to beat the afternoon slump is to take a step back from work and reorganize. By going through everything I need to finish for the rest of the day, and determining my priorities for tomorrow, I am more focused on the bigger picture and can better address what needs to be done first.
—Russell Kommer, eSoftware Associates Inc
5. Go on a brisk walk.
There’s nothing quite as invigorating as taking a brisk walk through a natural setting. If you have a park or natural trail nearby, take 10 or 15 minutes to walk quickly and with purpose. This energizes you so that you’re ready to hit your desk refreshed and ready to go.
—Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
6. Take a power nap.
It’s a physical thing that happens that notifies me when my body and brain have had enough. I tried power napping a few years ago and now it’s part of my daily routine. I nap from 20 minutes to an hour, maximum. It’s done an incredible job of boosting my afternoon energy levels. I can now squeeze out much more work during a time where my interest level previously died out.
—Drew Hendricks, Buttercup
I like to spend time with a good book or reading some interesting articles online. Just that mental redirection helps get past the brain drain from work and recharges me. It also stimulates new ideas I can use in my work.
—Peter Daisyme, Due Invoicing
8. Step away from the screen.
Eyestrain can make an afternoon work slump even harder to avoid. Do something that doesn’t involve a computer screen. Walk around your office or chat with an employee until you feel refreshed enough to get back to work.
—Elliot Bohm, Cardcash.com
9. Call a friend.
Sometimes, the best way to break out of an afternoon work slump is to step outside of the business world and connect with a family member or loved one. Don’t send them a text; call and spend 15 minutes catching up on lighthearted and fun topics of discussion. It can be very refreshing and just the jolt you need to get back to work.
—Wesley Mathews, High Level Marketing
10. Play a game.
It sounds silly, but it works to go a few rounds on some of my favorite video games. It relieves tension and distracts me from struggling with the same issues for hours. When I come back from an hour of getting lost in video games, it feels like when I start my day in terms of freshness and motivation to work.
—Zach Binder, Ranklab
11. Eat a smaller lunch and stay hydrated.
By eating smaller meals and staying hydrated, I can power through the afternoon slump effortlessly. I tend to opt for a smaller lunch by choosing something with more protein, healthy fats and less carbohydrates to avoid sleepiness. And the body needs water—multiple glasses per day. Staying hydrated will help increase your energy levels and assist you in combating fatigue.
—Anthony Pezzotti, Knowzo.com