2:55 P.M.: When Productivity Dies

You’re not getting anything done in the afternoon. So what can you do about it?

2:55 P.M.: When Productivity Dies

You’re cross-eyed from monitor glare, comatose from lunch digestion, and you don’t even realized you just opened up Facebook: It’s 2:55 in the afternoon, the time of day when productivity dies.


Deconstructing the dip‘s recent poll of 420 British office workers, while not incredibly scientifically robust, does provide some interesting insight into the workday rhythm.

The respondents said that 2:55 p.m. was the low point of the day’s output: Most folks said they were either checking social media or planning for their evening–perhaps heading to the “pub” or getting a game of “footie” together.

What’s the story with the dip? One respondent said that “the trouble is after lunch I’m completely whacked until I have some sugar,” while others said they need “a strong cup of coffee and a bar of chocolate” to get going again–more good news for glucose!

Beyond giving some explanation for the embarrassment of riches that is British candy culture, the responses underscore a recurrent Fast Company theme: that you only have so much mental energy within a day. While that supply is renewable, that renewal isn’t automatic.

Three afternoon tactics

How do you get more mindful about your afternoon? One way is to treat your workday as a series of sprints. Instead of slowly suffocating in your inbox, opt to work in focused 50- or 90-minute chunks. After each sprint, you take a break, which could be active or restful.

After a productive lunch, you could take a screen-free walk. While going alone can be restorative, heading out with a colleague can make for an informal meeting, one that can deepen those ever-necessary BFF workplace bonds–a gentle form of non-sleazy networking.


But while getting more active is helpful, so is getting proper iPhone-free rest: Consider the nap. Buffer cofounder and Fast Company contributor Leo Widrich noticed that his productivity fell off at 3 p.m., so he placed his daily nap right then–getting him back to 100% productive afterward. There’s an educational aspect to this, he notes: “Try and get encouragement from your co-workers or your boss,” he writes, “so you can set yourself up for developing a successful habit.”

At what time during the day–or night, for that matter–are you least productive and how do you deal with it? Let us know in the comments.

2.55pm, the time when no work is done! Time is when average office employee has their ‘most unproductive moment of the day’

[Image: Flickr user Andrea Esuli]

About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.