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7 Tips to Make Your Afternoons as Productive as Mornings

7 Tips to Make Your Afternoons as Productive as Mornings

There’s plethora of evidence that shows afternoons are the most unproductive part of the day. And, there are plenty of culprits for the same – our eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, and more. We all know that every working professional is looking for ways to become more productive and get more done within the designated eight working hours.

If a person could somehow alter his or her lifestyle habits during these hours, then more can be done within the same time. Following the tips shared in this post and by bringing minor changes in their lifestyle, they will be able to achieve a more productive afternoon.

1. Eat productivity boosting foods

We are what we eat. Yet, we don’t pay heed to what we are eating. Not many actually think before eating about the impact it’s going to have on our productivity. Do we? But, studies from the World Health Organization have shown that by eating the right food you can improve your mental alertness by as much as 20%.

That’s why there have been researches going on in this field. Studies have found that there are various foodstuffs, which can directly impact our productivity. For instance, eating unhealthy junk food like burgers, cold drinks, pizza, fries and more during lunch hours can take the productivity curve down to the bottom.

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But, at the same time, if we tweak our eating habits a little bit and start consuming healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries and similar other items, this can take your productivity levels to the top!

2. Munch together with the team

They say – a team that works together eats together. And, rightly so. We all know the importance of having a good bonding in the team. Eating together gives you an opportunity to get to know each other better; build friendships and connect more on an emotional level. It creates a friendly atmosphere within the team, where people don’t hesitate to back each other.

As a matter of fact, research also supports this. In one of the surveys conducted in a tech company, it was found that team members, who were good friends as well, had higher performance rankings than the others. Not just building rapport between the team members, this also gets your mind off of the things that might be bugging you at work. For instance, if you are stuck at something in a task and you need a break, sitting alone will never help.

Using lunch break as an opportunity to get your mind off that thing, talk to team members about the tasks they are doing or plain socializing with them and starting afresh afterward, however, can be just the perfect idea.

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3. Cure your Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD)

Firstly a little bit about the disorder that I’ve mentioned here. NDD is one of the latest disorders that have risen because of the poor lifestyle habit. NDD means that condition where in people become prone to allergies, asthma and other illnesses because they don’t get out in the natural surroundings as much as they need to.

Not only medical problems, people with NDD usually have lesser mental concentration levels as well, which are already at the lowest levels in the second half of the day. In order to get rid of this disorder, it is a great idea to use your lunch time as a small getaway from the hustle and bustle of the office.

Take a walk in the park nearby, go out in nature. And, if you simply cannot afford to step out because of any reason, try gazing out of a window with a natural view for at least 40-45 seconds. Even such a small amount of time spent looking at nature can restore your mental concentration levels. And, get your mind rejuvenated to work anew!

4. Listen to your favorite beats, at the right time

One of the biggest misconceptions about music is that listening to it while you are working on a task makes you more productive. Science completely opposes this fact. According to one of the studies conducted in 2010, it was found that listening to music actually has a negative impact on your memory and concentration; especially when you are working on cognitive tasks.

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Music might make you feel like you are being more productive, but that’s only because you are enjoying yourself listening to your favorite tunes.The trick is to use music to good effect on a timely basis. Listening to music stimulates the brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that brings the feeling of pleasure.

So, a good way to use music to become more productive is by listening to it 15-20 minutes before you begin your work. You can use the last 15 minutes of your lunch break for listening to your favorite music and heighten the dopamine levels.

5. Use afternoons to schedule meetings

Meetings are a necessary evil, which no team can do without. But, it is a well-known fact that not all meetings are productive. Scheduling meetings in the second half of the day can be a great way to boost the mental productivity levels of the team.

Being in a meeting means you have to stay focused throughout the time you are sitting there. And, that can be a great way to keep your team on their toes during the most unproductive phase of a typical work-day. Apart from keeping your team on their toes, statistics show that an afternoon meeting time has the highest acceptance rate (3 PM to be specific).

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This means that people are more likely to agree to a meeting at 3 PM than any other time of the day. So using the most unproductive part of the day in a smarter way can actually help you boost your team productivity.

6. Save afternoons for work that requires time, and not attention

This can be a life-saver. Being productive is not always about doing more work, it is more about making most of the time that you have got in your hands. Afternoons can be the most unproductive part of your day, but if you use them to do work that requires just your time and not much of your attention, then this can be the smartest way to use those afternoon hours in the best possible manner.

For instance, you can use this time to do tasks like responding to emails, deleting junk files, reading content that you had saved earlier and similar other ones can be a great idea to make the most of your afternoon hours.

7. Prioritize, prioritize and prioritize

There’s no denying the fact that productivity is a habit. And, you need to put a strong conscious effort to make your afternoons more productive. In order to do that, the only thing that can come to your rescue is prioritizing your tasks. Planning your day; keeping important tasks lined up for the first part of the day and the easier not-so-important ones for the second half should be the first thing to do.

To make the most of your time, you need to know the activities lined up for the day and then plan accordingly. Based on the things you have lined up at work, you can prioritize your day, your tasks and your life with ease.

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Woman Sitting on Bean Bag White Using Macbook in Front of Round Table With Green Leafed Plant 7 Tips to Make Your Afternoons as Productive as Mornings

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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