You know the old saying “You are what you eat,” right?
Well, today, I’m adding a little addendum: “You are as productive as the food you eat.”
Not sure what I mean? Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar.
It’s Friday (woo-hoo!) You walk into the office with your usual cup of coffee, exchange TGIF high-fives with your colleagues, and get down to work.
You might munch on a pastry, or just keep sipping on caffeine while you plow through morning meetings and deadlines.
Then, someone pokes their head into your workspace. “Come on, it’s time for lunch!”
This isn’t just any lunch, mind you. This is Friday lunch. The caloric splurge day where you celebrate the coming weekend with your colleagues.
Maybe you chow down on pizza, or burgers and beer, or steak and wine. Either way, it’s scrumptious, and probably splashed with booze & fats.
When it’s over, you head back to the office and—get diddly squat done for the rest of the day. You twiddle your thumbs, chit chat, or mess around on Facebook or email until 5 o’clock.
This slacking might not be the end of the world. But it means you’ll have to log in for 3 extra hours on Sunday to get the rest of your work done (sad trombone).
So, why does “Friday lunch” syndrome happen?
Because, believe it or not, food has as much of an effect on your productivity as sleep and scheduling.
There’s a reason why caffeine, sugary snacks, and energy drinks don’t fix that problem, either. Sure, they give you a temporary rush. But afterwards, you feel worse than before. This is because your body needs food—healthy, whole, fueling food—to make it through the day. That’s not something you can fake with syrupy lattes or Redbull, no matter how hard you try.
Which brings us back to the Friday lunch phenomenon, and what to do about it.
Here’s how you can dodge the ‘slacker Friday’ trap, and get back to enjoying your weekend already.
1. Think about what you eat on those less-than-productive days.
It doesn’t have to be at the end of the week, either. If you have a problem staying focused in general, this is probably connected to the food (or lack thereof) you’re putting in your body.
What do you chow down on for your usual breakfast/lunch/dinner? Does it have a lot of sugars, meats, and carbs? Is the one beer you have with lunch sending you straight for naptime?
Low energy usually means your body is having a hard time digesting or processing what you’ve put into it. So it’s time to rethink what you put on your plate—at all hours of the day.
2. Plan a more fueling lunch to crank your productivity with the 3 S’s rule: sushi, soup, or salad.
I get it. Not everyone’s a culinary genius or food pro. But just because you’re not ready to dive into an all-green-smoothie diet (ick!) doesn’t mean you can’t make smart decisions.
Next time you’re at a restaurant, make it a rule to eat either a sushi, soup, or salad (the three s’s). These foods are light, easy to digest, and give your brain the nutrition it needs to stay sharp and on task the rest of the day.
Forego booze if you can. Happy hour drinks are well and good, but if you’re still turning Sunday into a weekday, I suggest saving the brews for post-work hours.
Avoid the 3 P’s: pizza, pasta or prime rib.
3. Stop trying to trick your body.
Energy drinks and excess coffee can’t give you the energy you truly need, because they don’t nourish you. Instead, they take you and your adrenal glands on a rollercoaster of highs and lows.
That’s a major efficiency killer that trips people up all too often. So next time you’re yawning and reaching for your third cup o’ joe, try keeping a water bottle with herbal tea, or a healthy snack like carrots and hummus on hand to give you the delicious boost you need.
The best part about fueling your body properly? You can stop playing catch up.
When your mind and body are ready to roll, you can keep your work week where it belongs: between Monday and Friday.
No more scrambling to hit your deadlines. No more struggling to stay awake at your desk. Just beautifully-fueled brains, and rockin’ weekends.
Have I mentioned you’ll feel absolutely amazing as well?