Work at Home Productivity

How To Beat The Afternoon Slump And Stay Productive From Lunch To Dinner

Struggling with the 3pm slump? Here’s some simple tips to keep your energy going, even after school’s finished…

 

One of the downsides to working from home is that our quiet afternoon hours are cut short when the kids get home from school, so it’s important to understand how to beat that afternoon slump.

As a work-from-home mom, there’s no doubt that we often find ourselves tossing up between fitting in a quick afternoon nap before the kids get home from school, or doing this one last task that really needs to get done. If you’re like me, you’re pretty happy with yourself when you power through 🙂

So, let’s delve into the reasons behind the notorious afternoon energy slump and explore how we can avoid it.

 

Why do we experience afternoon energy slump?

Whether you work at home or in an office, the 3pm slump is familiar, and it can be a hard one to work through. There are of course some really good explanations – usually to do with our health.

Northwestern Medicine notes that it has a physiological for many people in that our normal circadian cycle puts us in a state of sleepiness or reduces our alertness during that period of the day. How? Between 1-3pm our core body temperature naturally dips which leads to a decrease in alertness and an increase in sleepiness.

Let’s not forget insufficient sleep plays a major role in afternoon tiredness – and as a mom, this isn’t always easy to fix.

Ian S. Katznelson, MD, neurologist at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital says,

Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule on both weekdays and weekends can improve our energy levels throughout the day. You should also avoid reaching for sugary calorie-empty treats or taking a nap, as these can disturb sleep patterns.

 

How working from home can increase the afternoon slump…

One issue many who work from home find is that there is a clear lack of separation between work life and personal life, which can make that afternoon slump even worse.

In addition, there are three factors that working from home introduces which contributes to the afternoon slump.

  • Lack of routine: Not having a clear transition from work to personal life can blur those lines and stop you from switching off and recharging.
  • Less movement: You probably find yourself moving less because you don’t need to be walking around the office or moving from the meeting room to your desk. This can lead to a decrease in blood flow, which can increase your fatigue.
  • Increased distraction: While working from home is great, the home environment often has more distractions which leads to your attention being diverted elsewhere, decreasing your focus and taking your energy.

Good news! There are several strategies that can help you overcome the afternoon slump, maintain productivity while working from home, and still have the energy to provide your family with the attention they need after a day at school.

 

5 Tips to Beat the Afternoon Slump

As a work from home mom, trust me when I say I get it! I understand what it’s like when trying to tick everything off your task list, rushing to meet the bus, or picking up the kids from school on time while drinking that coffee in an attempt to stay awake.

But over the years, I’ve found some great strategies to beat that afternoon energy slump…

 

Strategy 1: Overcoming Afternoon Slump with SHORT Naps

Now I know I mentioned that a nap can upset your normal sleeping patterns, but a short nap can be your answer to getting just enough energy to get you over the line until the kids go to bed.

Christopher Drake, Ph.D., a Henry Ford sleep medicine specialist, reiterates the well known fact that most people need a quality seven to eight hours sleep each night. But let’s be honest – as parents, that isn’t always feasible.

And when you are putting in night after night of low-quality sleep, you compromise your alertness throughout the day, and put yourself at risk hormonal and metabolic caused health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

So how long should your nap be? The Sleep Foundation tells us,

20-30 minutes of sleep should be enough to refresh your body and mind without putting you into a deep sleep cycle.

How to get over afternoon slump with short naps

 

Strategy 2: Lunchtime Laps can Boost Cognitive Function

We know that getting out into the sun and getting some movement in is a great way to boost your cognitive function and boost your energy.

Swimming a few laps at your local pool is a great way to re-energise your body, helping you get through the rest of the day.

The Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Centres of Ontario notes in an article,

If you’re feeling drained and uninspired, swimming laps or performing water aerobics can replenish your energy. Besides improving your strength, flexibility, and endurance, swimming is also a relaxing, low-impact exercise that cools and refreshes the body.

Swimming has many benefits including:

  • Increasing blood circulation
  • Oxygenating the muscles
  • Exercising your cardiovascular systems
  • Relieving stress and tension (swimming is my mediation)

How to beat afternoon slump by swimming laps in the pool

 

I discovered swimming as an energy boost a few years ago now, and I am thankful to live just a short drive away from my local pool.

If I have had a particularly tough morning in the office, or not a great sleep the night before, I regularly go and do a few laps at lunch, just to reset both my mind and my body. It doesn’t take up a lot of time, and I don’t even bother showering or changing at the pool. I simply pop on my car seat towel and head straight home for a refreshing shower.

If you have a pool at home, or you live close to a public pool, go and do a few laps and see how you feel. Sure, you might be tired initially, but that boost will soon kick in…

If you’re not a swimmer, then try and at least get out of the house for a short period. Here are some ideas to get a break from your home office if you are a dog owner.

 

Strategy 3: Embrace the Sunshine

The warmer months are perfect for stepping away from your workspace for 10-15 minutes and simply soaking up some sun. While there are of course risks of getting too much sun, there are certainly some positive benefits when it comes to your mental and physical health.

According to Tri-City Medical Center, the serotonin you soak up in your 10 minutes in the sun can help you get a more restful sleep at night. Serotonin and melatonin work together to produce a chemical in your brain that indicates it is time to sleep.

If you are suffering from insomnia, or just not getting a quality night sleep, make sure you get some sunlight during the day to help you sleep at night.

The better the sleep you get at night, the less of an afternoon slump you should experience.

How to avoid afternoon slump with sunshine

 

Strategy 4: Hydration is Key

The Kelsey-Seybold Clinic published an article on the benefits of hydration and it is interesting to note that every cell, tissue and organ in the body needs water to function correctly. They note that,

When you aren’t sufficiently hydrated, it impacts your circulation. This, in turn, affects the flow of oxygen to your brain, causing your heart to work harder, which may make you feel tired and sluggish.

Increasing your water intake can also help you function better cognitively, keeps you focussed and prevents aches and pains (which often come from sitting for too long).

While you should aim to drink eight cups of water per day, it doesn’t have to come from plain water. Flavour your water with lemon, lime, cucumber slices, berries or orange slices. Your water consumption also comes from any tea and coffee you incorporate into your diet.

How hydration helps beat afternoon slump

 

Strategy 5: Change your Daily Routine

Having a routine is important, but changing your routine to when you are more productive can be a great way to stay productive in the afternoons.

Rush Memorial Hospital recommends reserving the morning for “high energy, high concentration tasks and important meetings, leaving the afternoons for tasks that require less engagement”.

Using the afternoon fatigue period to answer emails and carry out less demanding tasks may be better suited than leaving those important meetings until 2pm when our body naturally wants to rest.

Change routine avoid afternoon slump

 

Final Tips

There’s no doubt that the afternoon slump can affect your work-from-home schedule. Understanding why you get a fatigue period in the afternoon can help you implement strategies to counteract the afternoon slump, including healthier food choices, staying hydrated and taking short breaks. For me, there’s nothing like packing my goggles, swimsuit and waterproof car seat towel to boost my energy after lunch and stay productive until school pick-ups. 🙂

 

Emily Anderson

Emily Anderson is a dedicated work-from-home mother of three who successfully balances the demands of family life with running her e-commerce business from the comfort of her home in Australia

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