Work-Life 5/5/2016

Beat the 3 O'Clock Blues - How To Be Productive During The Afternoon Haze

3 O'Clock Blues, Hit with the tired stick, eyes rolling back in your head, can't stay awake.  LJA breaks it down and provides remedies to work through it.

by Leslie Juvin-Acker

We start mornings either finishing what we’ve started or starting something new. We’re constantly in the process of beginnings and endings. Anxious to start and end. Mornings are usually purposeful and the end of the day has a general countdown vibe until we can finally wind down. What about those long hours between meal break and the hour before closing begins? These are the hazy mental hours of the work day. How do we make the most of them?

Many of us get groggy and disoriented after lunch. After hunger has been satisfied and the most urgent matters have been addressed, the lull that occurs after demands of us extra use of our self-determination and priority management skills. This is the time where magic can happen. Come along with me for a while and entertain this concept….

This time between 1:00PM and 4:00PM is a great time to maintain what’s been happening and follow up on what’s been left hanging. These are the tasks and conversations that require touching base and supervision. They don’t require much mental concentration, nor physical force. So, you can work with the fatigue and drowsiness that follows lunch until you’ve garnered enough wind for a second round of intense concentration before quitting time.

These tasks can include reordering office supplies, putting water into the cooler, and dropping off the mail. If it’s a regular thing you do that doesn’t require too much mental focus, get up, physically move, and do it. Harnessing the power of gentle physical movement gets your digestive system flowing and gets your mind to follow the awareness of your body’s rhythm.

Essentially, if you can’t be mentally productive, at least get up and make yourself physically useful. Clean up, do dishes, replace the yogurt that belongs to your colleague that you “borrowed” from the fridge, file away and throw out piled up papers and deliver some mail. Work through the brain fog, not in spite of it.

If you can’t even recognize an opportunity to help out and catch up on chores ask yourself, “What have I been wanting to do that I have not had dedicated time to do?” Use this time to explore and honor yourself. Google calls it the 70/20/10* ratio. Use a couple of hours to explore new concepts and opportunities that may have absolutely nothing to do with your work and whatever strikes your fancy. If you’re going to waste the time walking in circles, playing around on Pinterest, or taking a nap on in a bathroom stall, might as well explore something totally off the wall. You might just have some fun and come up with an amazing insight or solution.

Once you start to perk up and regain some energy and mental focus, you can switch gears and wrap up work that needs finishing. You’ll thank yourself for committing to your responsibilities, getting things done for your time, and giving yourself time to explore the realm of possibilities with no consequences. By the end of the day, you’ll have made the most of every moment and will have lots to show.

Allow yourself to go with the flow instead of pushing it and stopping it! We all have natural body and concentration rhythms. When it comes to performance, work with your own rhythms by gaining awareness of what comes naturally, what patterns exist, and what regularly needs maintenance. This “hazy” time is an opportunity to work harmoniously with yourself instead of forcing yourself to go through the motions. You’ll be surprised how much more enjoyable, relaxing, and productive this time can really be!