15 Tricks to Beating the Afternoon Slump

I don’t know about you, but when the 3:00 hour rolls around, I am pretty much worthless. My head bobs, my brain gets foggy, and I can hardly keep my eyes open.

For the last several weeks, I’ve been trying different strategies to defeat that afternoon slump. Some techniques have worked better than others, and today I want to share with you my favorites!

So without further ado, here are 10 quick fixes and 5 preemptive strategies to beating the afternoon slump.

15 Tips to Beat the Afternoon Slump

1. Stretch

When you’ve been sitting in the same position and staring at your computer screen for hours, your body tends to tighten up and everything else seems to s.l.o.w. d.o.w.n. Spend a few minutes stretching to get your blood moving and your energy back.

2. Take a walk

If you find that stretching didn’t do the trick, physically get up and go for a brisk walk. Step outside if you can, and get some fresh air. If you’re stuck in the office, deliver a message to your co worker in person rather than sending it via email.

Beat the afternoon slump with these 15 easy strategies!

3. Have a walking meeting

Sticking with the theme of walking, try scheduling a walking meeting. If you know your crash time is between 3:00-4:00, ask your co-worker or boss to take your next meeting outside. It is an easy way to maintain your energy and get an added few minutes of exercise. Double win!

4. Beat the eyestrain

For those of you who work on a computer for much of the day, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I mention eyestrain. Your eyes feel tired, your head often aches, and it’s simply not very pleasant when you’re trying to check off your to-do list. If you feel you’re battling this eyestrain by the mid-afternoon, take 10 minutes to work on something else. Check your voicemails, straighten up your desk/office, anything that gets your eyes off of the screen. An additional tip – when you return to the computer, make sure that you are working about an arm’s length away from your screen to help prevent further strain.

5. Grab a snack.

Research recommends eating smaller meals every 4-ish hours for sustained energy. This means if lunch is at 12:00, you’re body is probably ready for that afternoon snack around 4:00. Keep a healthy, high-protein snack at your desk – a greek yogurt, a handful of almonds, string cheese, and reach for it when you feel your energy dwindling.

Beat the afternoon slump with these 15 easy strategies!

6. Keep hydrated

Similar to tip five, you need to stay hydrated to keep those energy levels up. Dehydration can lead to sleepiness, so keep that water bottle filled and by your side!

7. Smell some citrus

Essential oils are a big thing right now, and if you look at the different scents, you’ll notice that often times the “awake,” “rejuvenate,” or “energize” bottles contain some type of citrus. If you don’t have any essential oils, no worries. Simply peel an orange and give yourself a mental boost. Combine that with your high protein snack and consider the afternoon crushed.

Beat the afternoon slump with these 15 easy strategies!

8. Do something different

If you have been working on the same set of spreadsheets or reading the same book for several hours, it’s no wonder you’re feeling drained! Switch it up, tackle a new project, and give yourself a change of pace. This will give you a chance to clear your head and come back fresh.

9. Take a power nap to boost the afternoon slump

Sometimes no matter WHAT you do, your eyes simply will not stay open. When this is the case, stop fighting it. Put your head down and allow yourself to shut your eyes for 15-20 minutes (but that’s it!). According to Web MD, this quick catnap can recharge your batteries better than an afternoon cup of coffee.

Beat the afternoon slump with these 15 easy strategies!

10. Check in on your posture – or even try standing!

It is so easy to slouch at your desk (I just caught myself doing it right now). By simply pulling back your shoulders and keeping your head up, you’ll help bypass that afternoon drain. If sitting up straight isn’t enough, physically stand up out of your chair. I guarantee you’ll have a much harder time nodding off when you’re on your feet. (Have you seen these new standing desks? This is the one that I have, and I love it!).

Preemptive strategies

Beat the afternoon slump with these 15 easy strategies!

11. Good night sleep

Even though this one is a given, night after night so many of us don’t heed the advice. Therefore, I think it’s worth repeating that getting enough sleep is critical to staying focused and energized throughout the day. Aim for 7-8 hours a night to really boost that productivity. (I’ll be working on this goal right alongside you!)

Want more tips to get a good night of sleep? Check out my guide to creating the perfect bedtime routine here!

12. Know your schedule and work around it

If you know you are the most productive from 9:00-11:00 each morning, and your afternoon slump occurs between 3:00-4:00, plan accordingly. Schedule your most demanding projects for your morning slot, and the tasks that require a bit less focus during your downtime. (I try and arrange my day so I can walk Bruno at 3:00.)

Beat the afternoon slump with these 15 easy strategies!

13. Avoid sugar to beat the afternoon slump

While sugar provides a wonderful sudden burst of energy (and let’s face it – it tastes delish), it also leads very quickly to a sugar crash (we’ve all been there!) If you need a pick-me-up, reach for the high-protein, high-fiber foods instead. They will keep you going much longer throughout the day.

14. Eat breakfast EVERY DAY!

If you want to maintain your energy throughout the day, start it off right with a good breakfast. I know there are many people who aren’t hungry when they first wake up – I am one of them. So no, I’m not saying you have to roll out of bed and go eat a giant omelet. You should, however, listen to your body, and eat a healthy breakfast when you’re ready. It will get you going on the right foot.

Beat the afternoon slump with these 15 easy strategies!

15. Eat a balanced lunch and beat the afternoon slump

Just like breakfast, it is very important that you don’t skip lunch; I don’t care how busy you are. If you don’t keep your body fueled throughout the day, or you fill it with M&Ms from the vending machine, you’re setting yourself up for a major afternoon crash. Aim for a protein-rich meal (do you see a protein pattern here?) that doesn’t leave you uncomfortably full. This will keep you functioning at your very best.

So that’s it, friends! 15 easy tricks to beat that dreaded afternoon slump.

Want a handy-dandy reminder sheet to keep by your desk when the slump strikes? Click here and get your FREE copy!

What are your tricks for boosting your afternoon energy? Do you have an afternoon slump? Have you ever tried a standing desk? Let me know below!

66 thoughts on “15 Tricks to Beating the Afternoon Slump”

  1. Thanks for sharing such great tips. This happens to me a lot and I’m never sure how to get through it. I usually grab another coffee, but I’ve started to go for a quick walk. It helps get my creativity moving again every time. I hadn’t thought about adding a citrus snack in too though. Can’t wait to try some of these. Thanks again!

  2. Great tips! I usually do all of my walking/moving in the morning, which is probably the cause of the afternoon slump! I need to squeeze in an afternoon walk more often.

    1. I am the same way – I’ve now rearranged my schedule so I can walk my dog during that sleepy time. It’s been helpful 🙂

  3. I love to diffuse lemon in my office! It helps. And my dogs have “talked” me into power naps on a regular basis which I’ve found very effective just before a walk. 🙂

    1. Wow! You combine three excellent tricks – that’s fantastic. My dog talked me into naps, too 🙂

  4. Kate // High Low Baby

    I’ve been working on tacking the 3:00 slump, so thank you for these suggestions. I have to say, I agree that getting enough protein is essential for sustained energy!

  5. Great tips! I am having a very sleepy day! I didn’t know about the citrus trick. I just had to take 5 mins to myself and go for a walk. I’ve had the yawns all day and my motivation just isn’t there. Thank god it’s beautiful out

  6. I frequently find myself in an afternoon slump, but with three kids under 5, I don’t get much sleep. I often break out my essential oils in the afternoon. I love Eden’s Garden’s Focus, focus, focus blend. Thanks for the tips!

    1. WOW! I imagine that you could call it the “all day” slump with three kinds under 5! I love that you pull out essential oils. I’ve juts discovered them; they’re so terrific!

  7. Being a teacher prevents me from doing all of these, but there are definitely some tips in here that I need to utilize! Hydrating is key!

    1. Yes – hydration is so important! Maybe you can infuse your classroom with orange scent and have your students get out of their chairs to stretch (then you can, too!) 😉

    1. Yes! And it always sneaks up on me SO QUICKLY! I’m going strong and then wham I can’t keep my eyes open.

  8. These are all great tips! I recently started paying more attention to my water intake and what I’m eating and it’s made a huge difference.

  9. Justine @ Little Dove

    I love these tips! As a stay at home mom I often am completely worn by the afternoon. I love the tips to smell some citrus, I’ll have to start pulling out my citrus essential oils!!

  10. I love that my office has three different building that I get to walk to for meetings. This really helps my mood in the afternoons.

  11. The power naps do wonders for me! I need to be better at eating a balanced lunch. I tend to start snacking and before I know it my blood sugars are out of wack and I’m nodding off. Great ideas!

    1. Thanks, Lori! I agree – it’s amazing how refreshed I feel after closing my eyes for 20 minutes.

  12. These are excellent tips. Mine usually hits me around 2pm or 5 pm. I was stuck in the rut of late afternoon coffee but that affected my sleep in the evening.
    Moving and a big ole glass or two of water does it. Can’t sleep of I always have to pee.

  13. All of these are soooo key throughout my day to keep me going…but I really loved the “smell the citrus” one, I love citrus smells and they really do wake you up in a refreshing way! : )

  14. Paula, these tips are perfect! I’m saving this to share. 🙂

    After lunch, my productivity takes a sharp nose dive, so this post was very timely for me.
    After reading through this list, I saw a few things I already do (such as eat breakfast everyday and stay hydrated), but a few I need to work on, such as getting a better night’s sleep and adjusting my posture.

    1. Thanks, Bria! I am glad you found them helpful 🙂 In terms of preemptive strategies – getting a good night sleep and maintaining good posture are definitely on my “needs improvement” list, too. Ha!

    1. I wish it was mandatory, too! It is customary in other cultures for an afternoon siesta – I think the U.S. needs to pick it up, too 🙂

  15. babiestobookworms

    These are great tips! The fight is real against the afternoon slump! I love having orange essential oils in my office.

    1. Oh wow! I didn’t know that about matcha. I’ve heard some great things about that stuff – I might have to check it out 🙂

    1. Yes, a good night’s sleep is SO important, yet it’s also so easy to put on the back burner when life gets crazy. I always need to remind myself that going to bed early means greater productivity the next day.

  16. just struggle w tiredness right this moment.. good tips 🙂 Especially the walking meeting sounds like a great idea!

    1. Yes, I really like the walking meeting option. I hope these tips give you the boost you need 🙂

  17. Getting out in nature, even for a few minutes, helps kickstart my brain/energy again. And hydration – seems like I get a good start in the morning, then forget to keep drinking my water later in the day when I’m neck-deep in Busy. Good reminders!

    1. Yes! I completely agree to both. It is easy to forget to hydration as the day goes by. I’ve started keeping a water bottle at my side all the time as a reminder.

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