When are you least productive at Work?

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Finally, studies have shown that what I experience during the course of a normal work-day is not unique. I have always found my concentration levels dip after lunch, making it harder to refocus and get work done as effectively and efficiently as before lunch (or later in the afternoon).

Now, this study in the UK has found that 14:17 is the time when a large number of people experience the dreaded slump at work. Now, this study was conduced in the UK, but I am sure the results would resonate with many office-goers.

I have definitely found this to be true for the most part of my working life. I am a morning person, and work at maximum efficiency till lunch time (usually around 12:30 / 1 pm). I try to take a short walk after lunch, but find that it’s still hard to get back to the same effectiveness as before. Rather than fight it, I usually just accept it and use this time for my casual browsing, emails, etc. Usually 20 minutes is what it takes for me to start getting out of the slump, and I then get back to work as usual.

Another thing I have observed recently is that this phenomenon is not restricted to working professionals alone. I have found that participants of my teaching sessions that start around 2 pm take longer to ‘warm up’ than at other times.

As experts quoted in the study mention, this slump is a natural part of our circadian rhythms. The ideal solution would be to take a brief nap at this time, but that might not be feasible in most work (or study) places.

What are some of the ways we can work around this natural slump?

  • Take some time during our immediately after lunch for mental relaxation. This can help manage stress levels and enhance energy levels.
  • Use this time for work that is not very mentally demanding (boring stuff).
  • Travel. If you have to travel for a meeting, can you time it such that you are traveling around this time (maybe even take a short nap on the way!).
  • Get a good night’s sleep. This is simply the best solution to minimise the effects of the afternoon slump.

Do you also experience a slump in the early afternoon? What do you do to overcome it?

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