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Every office worker is familiar with that annoying post-lunch period. You’ve mentally switched off from work after your meal and you just can’t seem to restart your brain to crack on with the task at hand. Don’t strain yourself, let technology help you beat the afternoon slump.
At the office, you can’t rely on tricks to beat the midday slump if you work alone, like taking a power nap. So Harvard Business Review (HBR) has a few good strategies to get your productivity juices flowing again, which can be made a lot easier if you rely on a few apps to get you through them.
Meditate at Your Desk
Meditation has several scientifically proven benefits, the chief among them being a destressed mind and sharper focus. Use that to your advantage at work. You don’t need a yoga mat and any special apparatus either.
Mindfulness meditation, the practice of developing self-awareness by focusing on one thing around you, is the easiest form of meditation to pick up. In fact, with an app like Stop, Breathe and Think, you can learn meditation on any device for free. It works on both the PC as well as iOS and Android, and you can set a specific amount of time before you being a session, starting from just a few minutes.
If you are fairly adept at mindfulness meditation already, another strategy is to use mindful web surfing to help you focus. This way, your boss won’t see you with headphones plugged in and eyes closed, and also won’t know that you are actually meditating.
Do Email On-The-Go, Exercise If You Can
When you’re stuck in that rut, sitting in the chair at your desk is the worst thing you can do. Get up, move around. Productivity experts told HBR that even ten minutes of some sort of physical activity will get the oxygen flowing to help your mind and body overcome fatigue.
You can kill two birds with one stone by handling all your email on your phone. In fact, there is something to the idea of using separate devices for separate apps. One of my personal preferred strategies is to check all email on the phone and label messages wisely to tame my inbox. The stuff that needs a detailed response is clearly marked for whenever I get back to my computer.
If you would prefer a complete mental break from work, then use the time to slip in the quick 7-minute workout. You might work up quite a sweat though, which isn’t ideal for the office if it doesn’t have a gym. To be more discreet, bookmark our eight easy exercises to stay fit at your desk and do a couple of them whenever you want. They are less strenuous, less conspicuous, and get done in a jiffy.
You can even try separating your to-do list by location with the help of apps, so you are forced to move around and tackle new tasks at new places.
Keep a List of Low-Energy, Low-Motivation Items
No matter which task list app you use, it is only as powerful as how you organize your to-do list. Just because you are in a slump doesn’t mean you can’t tackle some work, especially on those days when time seems limited and tasks seem unlimited. That’s when you need low-energy, low-motivation items.
The basic takeaway is to make a note of tasks that don’t strain your mental or physical energy. If you don’t know how to categorize such tasks, use the Eisenhower Matrix detailed in our guide to prioritize your to-do list. If you already know how to use it, you can set up a Todoist filter based on energy levels to automatically sort your items.
Personally, I prefer using Google Keep, one of the best task managers around. I’ve set Keep as my Chrome’s New Tab page, and only add items there which fit this low-energy, low-motivation phase. Whenever I’m in a slump, I tackle one of them. If I’m still low after I finish that, I tackle one more. It’s a simple way to get through those tedious tasks and keep them from piling up.
Listen to Productivity-Boosting Music
Much like getting pumped up for the gym, listen to the right music to get your brain ready for a workout. “The type of music that works best will differ from person to person,” HBR writes. “Whereas a fast-paced beat might get one person moving and energized, a laid-back beat might help someone else clear his mind and focus.”
If you prefer to stream your music, you’re in luck. You will find plenty to listen to in our guide to the best online music to boost productivity, from an online radio designed for productivity to video game soundtracks. You could also set up your own playlist on Spotify or Rdio, or get started with the new Apple Music.
You can also set up your own playlist depending on your job. Neuropsychologists conducting a study on how music affects work found that different genres are better suited for different jobs. YouTube is full of free music you can listen to, so use any cool YouTube music player and create a playlist based on these recommendations:
- Classical music: If your work involves numbers or attention to detail
- Pop music: If your work involves data entry or working to deadlines
- Ambient music: If your work involves solving equations
- Dance music: If your work involves proof-reading and problem solving
How Do You Tackle a Midday Slump?
HBR also suggests a few preventive strategies so that the slump never happens. They recommend getting 7-8 hours of sleep at night, and not relying on caffeine for a midday boost. But hindsight is 20-20, we want to know what to do when the slump has already hit! Tell us your best tip when you are struggling to be productive in the afternoon.