6 Ways To Prepare For The Afternoon Dip
How to overcome your unproductive phases
We all have certain points of the day where we work our best.
Whether you’re a morning, evening or, god forbid, an afternoon person, in those times, our productivity is usually at its peak. After this, a dip is often forecasted, transforming your productive mind into mush.
You suddenly feel more tired, distracted, unfocused. Your procrastination levels skyrocket to the point where even mundane tasks like doing the laundry or washing up seem more exciting than the work in front of you. After a while, you gradually come to accept that this is the way it’s going to be, despite feeling bad about it later.
For me, I’m a morning person. I usually rise at 7 am and start working around 8 am, focusing solidly through till lunch.
However, after lunch, turbulence would hit. Before I know it, I’d be stuck in an afternoon dip. Suddenly I’m in a weird and wonderful place on YouTube, watching “How to look after your micro pig”, when I didn’t even have one.
This dip would last a LOOONG time. It wouldn’t be until 4 or 5 pm that I would feel my motivation kick back in — or maybe just the sheer panic of now being far FAR behind schedule. Shortly after this my stomach would rumble, reminding me to cook dinner, only allowing myself to make up an hour or so before I’d be distracted again.
With term drawing ever closer and my workload increasing, I couldn’t afford to keep giving in to this dip, which I let rob me of my whole afternoon.
So, how did I tackle this?
1) Set a strict lunch break
This sounds obvious, right? But I wasn’t to be trusted.
I’d often let my body decide when it was time to go back to work which always resulted in disaster.
Now, I set myself a strict 1-hour lunch break. To do this, I would set a timer on my phone, but instead of setting it for 1 hour I’d set it to go off 10 minutes before. This gives me 10 minutes to get ready, grab a coffee or use the bathroom so I am all ready to start work as soon as my hour is up.
2) Remove distractions
There’s aeroplane mode on your phone for a reason. In your “dip” make use of it and put it in a place outside your view, so you can’t be tempted to check it.
As well as this, have a bit of a tidy up.
In those last 10 minutes that I previously mentioned, have a look at your working area and assess whether its suitable and enticing enough to go back to work. If it’s cluttered with the papers and pens from the morning’s activities strewn all over the desk, your mind is more likely to wonder. You are more likely to find that mess more annoying than usual if you are already prone to distractions.
Remove the clutter and start working on a fresh, clean table with only the bare necessities in reach.
This way your mind is less likely to find excuses not to focus on the tasks at hand.
3) Save the easier things until the afternoon
If there are dimensions of your work that you struggle with or require a higher amount of concentration, get them out the way sooner rather than later.
As a social science postgraduate, I have a lot of essays that need to be researched and written.
Personally, I find it much easier to research my topics as that requires minimal creative thinking and I’d often have a set list of readings that I needed to get done. This meant that in the morning when I was fresh, I’d write. Words came easier to me at that time of day, leaving the afternoon for more structured research, giving my mind the extra steering that it needed.
4) Put on some music
I tend not to listen to music whilst I work.
Especially when I write, as I often speak out loud, reading the words back to myself, making sure, everything makes sense.
However, when my mind starts to tire, I find that certain kinds of music give my mind the extra boost that it needs to stay focused and sustain productivity.
Listening to lyrics is often distracting so I either choose classical music from theme tunes of films or Lofi Hip Hop giving me those relaxed indie vibes, settling my mind into a sustainable working rhythm.
5) Reward yourself
Give yourself something to look forward to after a hard day’s work. If you do this, then you’ll be more likely to get the majority of your work cleared so you have time to spend on the chosen activity.
For me, I like to spend time with my flatmates. In the evening, we will watch a film or cook dinner together. We will do something to take our mind away from our work and give ourselves a chance to recharge and enjoy each other’s company, without feeling guilty or distracted by any unfinished tasks.
6) Factor your dip into your day
If none of the tips above help you overcome your afternoon dip or any dip that you tend to experience throughout your day, then why not try to factor it into your schedule.
For me, it came to this when I had exams coming up. As they loomed ever closer, I still couldn’t force my mind to focus on revision. So, I decided to take drastic measures. As a morning person, I decided to make full use of this and started waking up at 5 am, aiming to start work around 6 am. I would work up until my lunch at around 1 pm and then stop.
I’d use my afternoon to do what I wanted to do. Procrastinate. Engage in mindless YouTube. Write. Exercise.
I wouldn’t feel bad about doing this as I had already pre-planned this into my day. By getting the majority of work done by 1 pm, meant that I had already spent just under 7 hours revising.
I did this for a few weeks until my exams had ended and then re-adjusted, getting up at a more humanely hour. My results came through a few weeks later and I had done well.
By factoring it into your day, and being prepared for it, you’ll be able to overcome your afternoon dip.