18 Tricks to Beat the Afternoon Slump at Work

When your energy is drained, these tricks will help you recharged and be productive through the end of the day.

Head outside and sit in the daylight for 10 minutes


Better still, have your lunch outside and divide your break between eating and a walk. It will help reset your chronological clock, keep down the amount of melatonin (the sleep hormone) your body produces during this circadian dip and give you a valuable boost of beneficial vitamin D, reducing your risk of osteoporosis as well as various cancers. Here's how healthy, happy people spend their lunch breaks.

Choose energizing protein, not energy-sapping carbs


For lunch, a tuna salad without the bread is a better choice than a tuna sandwich. A green salad sprinkled with low-fat cheese, a hardboiled egg, and some sliced turkey wins over a pasta salad. The change can really make a difference when it comes to not craving a nap come 3 p.m.

Enjoy teatime


Get into the routine of a mid-afternoon cup. It’s a good step toward beating the afternoon doldrums thanks to that little bit of a caffeine burst and the few quiet minutes the brewning and steeping entails. Keep a selection of exotic flavored teas (preferably caffeinated) in your office and an aesthetically pleasing cup and saucer just for tea.

Clean your desk and clear out your email inbox


Both are relatively mindless tasks that don’t require great amounts of concentration or clear thinking, and both will leave you feeling more energized because you’ll have accomplished something visible as well as having reduced energy-sapping clutter. Here are other productive ways to spend five minutes.

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Make an “I was thinking of you” phone call


To your wife, child, siblings, parents, a friend, or a retired colleague. A five-minute keep-in-touch call will lift your spirits for hours and reinvigorate you to get your work done.

Put a drop of peppermint oil in your hand


Briskly rub your hands together, then rub them over your face (avoid your eyes). Peppermint is a known energy-enhancing scent. Here are other ways aromatherapy improves your mood.



Roll your shoulders forward, then backward, timing each roll with a deep breath in and out. Repeat for two minutes.

Consider a morsel of dark chocolate


This is not a license to overindulge, but dark chocolate does have some unique advantages. Unlike milk chocolate, it is truly a healthy food, closer to the category of nuts than sweets, given the high levels of healthy fat and antioxidants it contains. Plus, it has abundant fiber and magnesium. Additionally, it provides a little caffeine, as well as a satisfyingly decadent feeling. But don’t eat more than one square.

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Chew some “spicy” gum


Chewing gums with strong minty flavors are stimulating, and the mere act of chewing is something of a tonic to a brain succumbing to lethargy. Plus, chewing stimulates saliva, which helps to clear out bacteria responsible for cavities and gum disease from lunch. Just be sure to choose sugar-free gum.

Plan group activities for midday


If you often work on your own, try to organize work involving others at the time of day when your concentration might otherwise be waning. We are social animals, and interactions always rev us up. But make sure it’s an interesting, interactive activity. Sitting in a room listening to someone else drone on and on will just send you snoozing.

Take 10 minutes for isometric exercises


Isometric exercises involve nothing more than tensing a muscle and holding it. For instance, with your arm held out, tense your biceps and triceps at the same time and hold for 5 to 10 seconds. You can do this with your calf muscles, thigh muscles (front and back), chest, abdomen, buttocks, shoulders, and back.

Keep a rosemary plant in your office

iStock/Emilie Duchesne

Not only will sharing your space with a live, growing thing provide its own mood boost, but studies find the scent of rosemary to be energizing. Whenever you need a boost, just rub a sprig between your fingers to release the fragrance into the air. Or, if you’re really wiped out, rub a sprig on your hands, face, and neck. Don't miss these other ways to set your cubicle up for productivity.

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Have an afternoon snack designed to get the blood flowing


That doesn’t mean a whole milk chocolate bar. The high glycemic index in the chocolate bar (a measure of how high it pushes up your blood sugar) might give you a temporary boost, but once that jolt of sugar is gone, you’ll sink faster than the stock market after an interest-rate hike. Instead, you want a snack that combines protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates (such as whole-grain crackers or raw vegetables) to raise your blood sugar levels steadily and keep them up.

Do the work you care about most


Because your energy will be high when you first get to work, start the day with the task you’re dreading most. You’ll be able to breeze through it in the morning, leaving your favorite projects for later in the day. Then when that afternoon slump hits, your enthusiasm for the work you love the most will help you recover from that dip in energy. These tricks will help you be more productive in the morning.

Do your filing

iStock/Pamela Moore

Sometimes getting up is the best way to fix a literal slump when you’ve been hunched over your desk all day. Escape from your desk and get bending and stretching while you take care of some filing. Let yourself get fully engrossed in the task, falling into the flow of the work. By the time you’re done, you’ll feel totally refreshed.

Add some variety to your routine


Research suggests that concentration declines after about an hour, and it only gets worse from there. Without a bit of variety, the tedium of a task will be mind-numbing by the time you’re 90 minutes in, and you’ll lose your productivity. When you feel your focus fading on a big project, switch to another task for 30 minutes, then get back to what you were doing. Here are more almost effortless ways to be more productive.

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Get up as often as you can


Studies have shown that even short bursts of activity can keep you alert and boost your fitness. Instead of emailing or calling colleagues, stop by their desks to ask a question face to face. These are clear signs you need to get up and move more.

Have a private dance party


Find a private space to jam out to one of your favorite high-energy songs. Close your door if you have an office or put in your headphones and head to an empty conference room or the bathroom. You’ll get back to your desk feeling pumped.

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