It happens to the best of us; one moment, we’re feeling perky and productive, sipping our coffee and chatting with coworkers or classmates. But then, merely moments later, we seem to hit a mental wall. And this mental wall tends to hit hard at around 3 PM. This phenomenon is so common, it’s often called the “mid-day slump,” and no one is immune to its exhaustion-inducing foggy haze.
I’ve tried my best to avoid it, but, like clockwork, the dreaded haze hits home at 3 PM, day after day. I started asking myself, “How do other people survive this? Surely I’m not the only one who feels like my productivity stops abruptly in the late afternoon.” I’m certainly not the first to feel the 3 PM slump, nor will I be the last. However, in my quest for answers (and remedies) I found a few things that can help make it survivable. These tactics work for me and have worked for others, so hopefully they’ll work for you, too!
Take a break and do a completely different task.
This one works wonders for me. If I’ve spent the morning writing and hit the wall at 3 PM, I’ll then either switch to editing something or reading something off-topic but still useful (gotta keep that productivity up, yo). When I’m not at work and feel the slump creepin’ in, I’ll get up and go for a walk to get my head out of the computer and focused on the nature around me. Be sure to take a long enough break that you feel refreshed afterwards. You don’t want to shortchange yourself and only increase your tiredness. Because that can totally happen!
Drink water (or coffee, or tea…)
Sometimes the haze happens because we’re not hydrated. Water is often best, but if you’re really craving that kick of caffeine, it’s probably ok to have some of that, as well. Just keep in mind, most people have an even worse crash “coming down” from caffeine than they did when they were simply tired. So tread carefully.
Minimize distractions during your workday.
This one’s hard. But how many times have we been interrupted from our task at hand to answer an email, chat with a coworker, become surprised from a knock at the door, etc.? After a few hours of this, we’re abruptly exhausted—our brain can only handle so much constant stimulation. Truly try your best during the day to minimize distractions as much as possible. Tell yourself you’ll have one coffee break midmorning and talk with coworkers then. Or, plan to work when most of the office has gone to lunch. Or, if you’re not feeling like living the lonely life, you can plan to talk to people in person, but only check your email at set times (instead of every time they come in). Know yourself and what strategies for minimizing distractions will work best for you. Because, honestly, most fatigue comes from your attention being scattered for too long, not long spans of time being focused on one thing.
Take a quick walk.
Never underestimate the massive benefits that walking can have. Not only does it provide a change of scenery, it also lets you get a breath of fresh air. If it’s too hot out (or too cold, or rainy, or you’re located deep within an office abyss and can’t escape) taking a walk up and down the halls is just as good. Get your heart pumping a little, that’s all that matters. You can also use the privacy of the bathroom and do some lunges and squats (which, yes, I’ve done in a pinch).
These seem like simple tips (and, to be honest, you’ve probably heard them all before). But they’re tried-and-true because they work. Sometimes, we just have to be reminded of what we already know to reassure us that it’s still relevant. So take a walk, drink some tea, and put your noise-reducing headphones on, and when the next time the 3 PMslump comes knocking, you won’t have to open the door.
Kayla Maneen received her BFA in Creative Writing and minored in adventure and fun. After graduation, she worked on an organic farm in Ireland and taught English in Italy, and learned all there is to know about chasing sheep and eating long, leisurely meals with family. She is adamant about people living out their passions and reaching their highest potentials. Always follow that fire in your heart!