If afternoons are a daily struggle, you’re not alone. Our attention spans take a natural dip in the afternoons because our bodies have an internal alert system ― what scientists call the circadian alerting system ― that strengthens and wanes over the course of the day.
1. Drink some water. Dehydration makes us tired, and people at work often forget to hydrate while sitting or staring at screens all day.
2. Turn up the lights or get outside. Research has found that more intense light can improve feelings of alertness and vitality.
3. Take a power nap. Just be sure to time it right, and don’t make it longer than an hour unless you’re OK with staying up later.
4. Talk with someone. Schedule a meeting. You’re still engaged and working, but it doesn’t require that laser focus that you’ve needed for other things.
5. Eat a fun, motivating snack. Brain foods like broccoli, grains, lentils and eggs, for example, can help boost concentration when you need it most. And you can think of the break you’ll take to eat your snack as something to look forward to.
6. Think about what activity nourishes you, and make time for it. Even though you’re tired, the promise of a fun activity can keep you motivated to get through each day.