It’s 2:15 p.m. You’re trying to stay awake at your desk but find yourself performing the afternoon head-bob dance. Eyes flutter and close, chin drops, head jerks up, and repeat. How do you get yourself to stay awake and, better yet, stay energized and focused throughout your day?
As a time management coach, I can’t guarantee that you won’t suffer from the afternoon energy dip. But I have seen that there are certain activities you can do that can help you stay more alert throughout your day. Here are seven simple hacks that can help you to feel more energized at any point in the day:
Exercise: When you feel tired, it could be the perfect time to get moving. Some of my coaching clients purposely plan to work out in the early afternoon when they know that their productivity won’t be naturally high. If you don’t want to get super sweaty, you can still get an energy boost from going on a short walk. Just 10 minutes of walking or climbing the stairs can be more energizing than that extra cup of coffee.
Check out: Sometimes what you need is simply a full mental break. Daydreaming can be a rejuvenating activity, and so can activities like prayer or meditation. Instead of mindfully scrolling through Instagram the next time you feel tired, flip your brain off for a bit and allow it to rest from taking in new information. Stare out the window, doodle, and just let yourself decompress.
Laugh: For an endorphin rush, test out a new joke on a friend, or watch a short clip of your favorite comedian on YouTube. Laughter increases feel-good chemicals and decreases stress in the body. Even thinking of something funny can help make your energy levels rise.
Sleep: Snoozing well at night is critical to sustaining your energy throughout the day. But sometimes a short nap in the middle of the day can help as well. A 15- to 20-minute power nap can help increase alertness and even improve your motor function. Personally, I don’t take naps every day. But I have found that taking a very short nap when necessary can save me from hours of struggling to stay alert and focused.
Listen: Listening to cheerful music can make you feel happier and more alert. So consider updating that Spotify playlist the next time you’re feeling low-energy or unmotivated and see what improvements occur. Some of my coaching clients have experimented and found exactly what type of music most enhances their productivity during certain types of tasks. For example, they might enjoy classical or jazz music during some part of their day and upbeat pop music with lyrics during another.
Get sun: When you have time where your skin is exposed to sunlight, your brain releases the feel-good chemical serotonin. So when you have energy dips, get outside briefly and allow your body and mind to get recharged for a few minutes. This is especially important if you work in an office without windows, or during winter months when there are fewer hours of sunlight overall.
Talk: Sometimes a short chat with a friend, family member, or coworker can be the energy boost you need to get through the day. When you’re in need of a little more energy, give someone a call or stop by their desk. Talk a bit and then use that energy to refocus on the task at hand.