A really common sight in office buildings across the world, is the mid-afternoon cup of coffee. It’s almost become something of an unspoken fact of the modern-day workplace: we stumble in after a filling lunch, grab a fresh cup on the way in and then sit down at our desks and drink away.
The problem with this are the habits that are formed and the absence of productivity that it brings.
You see, most people go out for lunch (which is good), then get a little sleepy from the food (which is not good), and then proceed to have a “cruisy” afternoon where very little actually gets done.
Instead of that, let’s look at 8 different ways that we can stay productive after lunch – without resorting to multiple visits to the espresso machine.
1. Use Momentum
One of the simplest way to get things rolling is through using the momentum of work. This is a variation on the solar flaring technique that we teach at Asian Efficiency.
What you do is you pick a small task to start with right after lunch. It can be something simple, like going over meeting agendas for next week, or something straightforward like answering a quick return call. The main thing is that you perceive it as simple and straightforward.
What happens next is magical – you complete the “simple” task… and then move onto a slightly more complex/bigger task. And then you keep going.
By getting your momentum going in the direction of being productive, you can turn an otherwise lazy afternoon into a highly productive one.
Note: It’s probably best to stay away from email, as it tends to be a bit of a black hole for time when we’re a little tired.
2. Drink Water
This one is simple: drink more water.
Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to remain productive – simple grab 500ml of water every hour or so (that’s about 16 fl oz).
There’s not much more to it than that. If you drink lots of water and remain fresh, your body and mind remain hydrated and you get a clarity of thought that is usually lost in the mid-afternoon fog.
3. Drink Something Stronger
If you really need a pick-me-up, drinking something stronger with a bit of caffeine can work.
And yes, you can drink coffee, even though we don’t recommend it.
What’s usually better is a cup of green tea or black tea – you get all the benefits of coffee… without the post-caffeeine crash.
Whatever your choice, just remember not to drink it too late into the evening – I’d recommend stopping at 4pm latest. Caffeine has a half-life of 3-7 hours, which means that it will stay in your system at full strength for that time, then half strength for the next 3-7 hours, which will usually be well into your sleep time for that day.
4. Switch Up Your Environment
A great and simple way to remain productive in the afternoons is to switch up your environment.
If your office has hot desking, you can grab your laptop and head to a different part of the building, where you’ll be surrounded by different people and a whole new set of social energy.
If you are able to work from outdoors, or a cafe or another location, that can also be a great way to soak up the vibe and use it to fuel your afternoon. It’s also kinda silly to take a computer to a cafe and then sit there and browse Facebook all afternoon.
5. Make Lunchtime Energetic
I’ve written about this in the past before.
When you go out for lunch, do it with someone (or multiple people) who you really enjoy spending time with and talking to.
Soak in the social energy and let that get you excited – and then take that energy back to the office… and have a productive afternoon.
6. Take a Shower
Yeah, this is a bit of an odd one.
If you are a work-from-home sort or if there are shower facilities at your office, hopping in for a quick freshen up is a very effective way to reset your physiological and mental state, and get you back to productive. In fact, it’ll probably feel like you’re walking back into the office, fresh in the morning.
7. Stay Away from Downtime
We’ve covered a bunch of things to do to stay productive, but here’s what not to do: don’t get sucked into downtime after lunch.
I know it’s really, really tempting sometimes to come back from lunch and say “I’ll just take it easy this afternoon”, but that’s one of the worst things you can do.
You have working hours for a reason – to get things done. Downtime is important, but it can come after.
So while you’re at the office – stay away from downtime, and save it for when your work day is over.
8. Take a Walk Outside
Taking a walk goes hand-in-hand with eating lunch out rather than at your desk. After lunch, go for a quick 10-15 minute walk to reset, get some fresh air, and let thoughts of a productive afternoon percolate in your mind.
Then confidently walk back into your office, and get to it.
And there you have it – 8 very simple alternatives to your mid-afternoon coffee.
Let us know what your favorite is, and if you have any other ways for staying productive after lunch!
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