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How To Overcome Afternoon Slump When You're At Work

by Amani Onyango |

We’ve all had those days. Its the start of the working week, you’re at the office and you’ve got deadlines piling higher than your head but urgh, just one more minute on Instagram - also there’s that new show on Netflix that everyone’s talking about – hmm, that’s a weird spot on the wall…

When you need it the most, your focus can ghost you like that cutie on Tinder you could’ve sworn you were getting somewhere with.

So how do you make it stay where it’s meant to and keep your productivity high? Especially when all you want to do is to go home early because you’re having a food coma from that heavy lunch you had or you’re just feeling a little burned out.

Here are a few tips to get you out of an afternoon slump when you're at work:

1. Try the Pomodoro Technique

Image: Natural Factors

The Pomodoro Technique uses 25 minute time intervals separated by short breaks in order to get your attention fixed on your work. The basic process goes like this:

  1. Set your timer for 25 minutes (25 minutes is considered as 1 Pomodoro session)

  2. Work till the timer rings

  3. Take a five-minute break

  4. After every four Pomodoro sessions, take a longer break of 20 - 30 minutes, preferably away from your workspace.

You can tweak the method if you want, shortening the 25 minute session, or even doing 2 or 3 Pomodoro sessions at a time instead of 4. Having a short space of time dedicated for your work can break your task into more manageable chunks. It might even help you feel more relaxed about focusing when you know you don’t have to sit at it for hours at a time.

You can use your phone timer or even a kitchen timer, but there are also some apps that are specially designed for it. Focus Booster helps if you want to work with clients and Marinara Timer is optimized for teamwork. Tomatoes offers motivation by competition, if you need the extra push!

Fun fact: Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato, because the inventor of the technique used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to measure his time intervals.

2. Turn off your notifications

This is probably a ‘lol duh’ sort of point, but turning off your notifications could make the difference between a more sustained period of concentration and one that’s constantly splintering. If your phone keeps going off, or things keep pinging on your desktop, your mind will wander no matter how intently you want to focus on your task.

Even if your phone is silent, your eye will keep moving to it if your screen keeps lighting up with each notification. Turning them off for non-work related things can help you train your attention onto what you’re doing. If you want an intense burst of concentration, you can even choose to turn off all notifications for a short while to really boost your productivity.

Tip: Best if you could inform your teammates know that you won’t be available for a particular time period so you can avoid trouble of not being contactable.

3. Move workstations (if possible)

You might find your productivity waning if you’re working in the same place for too long. Sometimes it’s difficult to focus in certain types of environments too. If your workspace is an open space, it can too noisy and you tend to get distracted by others. It might not be easy to train your focus at all if you’re planning to give the Pomodoro technique a go.

If your work requires you to work at home, avoid doing it on your bed - the fact that you sleep there might make it too easy for your mind to dip back into ‘relaxed’ mode.

One of the possible solutions would be to switch up your workstation. A quieter environment may facilitate greater focus and boost your productivity. In fact, working in an unoccupied meeting room for instance, might be just the sort of space for you to settle in and get down to business. Some people might like having sunlight or being outside, while others might prefer a place with dimmer lighting. Find out what works best for you and your preferred working style.

4. Take a break!

Your productivity can wane if you’ve been working on something for too long. If you find your focus becoming impossible to anchor, take a break. Scroll through social media for a 5-10 minutes or engage in content that’s not related to your work.

Alternatively, take a physical break, especially if you’ve been sitting still for a long time. Go for a five-minute walk, preferably outside where you can have a change of atmosphere. Try not to look at your phone during this time. Focus on your body and reconnect with the physical space around you. A change of scene can help refresh your mind and aid your concentration when you return to your task.

If you’re feeling a little isolated, chat with someone verbally or on Whatsapp. Talking to someone else can help you recharge so you don’t feel so burned out and can regain focus faster. You’ll find that your productivity will increase again once you’ve had a bit of a mental break.

5. Track your habits

Image: My Life in A Bullet

If you prefer to sort your to-do lists with pen & paper, adding on a ‘habit tracker’ could be another way to take account of your productivity. This tracker would allow you to know when would be the right time for you to take breaks, how often you take them and the hours you work. Plus, this adds a fun, creative touch to your planner!

Don’t worry if you find this could be intimidating to start on your own. Here are two simple and different printable work trackers you could download from to give it a try:

6. Switch off your phone

When all else fails, switch off your phone and hide it somewhere until you Get. Your. Work. Done. Desperate times call for desperate measures!

Again, always make sure you’ve told the necessary people that you’ve switched off your phone for a bit, just to avoid trouble. You don’t want an angry boss on your tail, yelling about how irresponsible you are.

We understand that getting work done efficiently in a short amount of time can be tiring mentally but we do hope that you’ll find these tips helpful to you. In fact, maybe some of us are already applying them in our daily routine. So, let this article be a reminder for you to keep doing what you’re doing, hustle hard and get things not only done, but a job well done!

All the best!

You may find Amani on Instagram too.

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