Time Management and Healthy Eating: Avoiding The Dreaded Afternoon Slump

The dreaded afternoon slump is not the best way to impress – in fact it falling asleep at your desk can be downright embarrassing.

Even if you don’t fall asleep, for most of us 2PM to 4PM is a period of low energy (depending on many variables like when you eat, what you eat and how many young children you have), and this translates to low productivity, creativity and strategic thinking.

Coffee and sweets are at the top of the popularity scale to avoid afternoon slumps; perhaps you can remember a long running TV commercial that promoted eating a chocolate bar mid-afternoon? I personally find a chocolate bar is the perfect recipe for my eyes to begin closing and head to start nodding. But I’m not going to get into food, I’ll let my collaborator James R. Elliot of Complete Health and Fitness (our nutrition expert in this blog series), discusses the things we should and should not eat at lunch / afternoon to maintain our energy and productivity.

How To Plan Your Day And Avoid An Afternoon Slump

My contribution to this last post in this 3-part blog series comes from the Time Management training I offer. Specifically, how you and your team can plan your day to help avoid an afternoon slump and to be productive.

In part 1 of this series I talked about doing your Important Work in the morning. To improve your afternoon energy levels and avoid the dreaded afternoon slump I’ll encourage you to follow 3 other time management and productivity tips I advise my clients to use… which are:

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • Book Afternoon Meetings – especially good are brainstorming meetings
  • Read/Write Routine Email (you answered your important email in the morning).
  • Help a Co-worker

1. Book Afternoon Meetings

Meetings are great at keeping you engaged – especially brainstorming meetings. Meetings allow you to stay active by doing things like discussing ideas with others, taking notes, getting a glass of water, perhaps even walking about. As long as you’re not in a stuffy, warm room with the lights down, afternoon meetings are a great way to keep you (and your team), productive and awake.

2. Answer Routine Email

Unless your job requires you to be on email all the time, answer only important email / urgent email in the morning. Allocate specific time in the afternoon for routine, non-urgent email. If you have lots of email, break up your time into smaller (perhaps 30-minute), intervals. Do some email, help a coworker, then do more email.

Bonus Tip. The incoming email notice has become a huge productivity thief and concentration robber. So… turn your email notification off (except for your boss and most important client).

3. Help a Co-worker

Every afternoon set aside 30 minutes to help a co-worker. This way, if someone asks you for a favour in the morning you can say, “I’m happy to help Rob. I have to finish what I’m working on first though. I have 30 minutes this afternoon at 3PM so let’s connect then; I’ll be able to give you 100% of my attention because I won’t be distracted.” If nobody asks you for a favour or help, you now have 30 unscheduled minutes to work on something important… or to get ahead on something else.

James’s Nutrition Tips

The most common reason you might experience an afternoon slump is because of what you have eaten (or not eaten) for lunch. There is another cause, adrenal gland fatigue, but that is a longer topic for another post.

Either starving yourself at lunch, or having a large, carbohydrate/starch-laden meal will make you fatigued 1.5-2 hours later due to the blood sugar spike and subsequent crash that happens. Your body sees the blood sugar spike as danger, and over-corrects. Unfortunately, this correction sends your blood sugar, mood, energy level, ability to think, reason and complete work effectively crashing down.

James’s Tips For Avoiding Afternoon Slump After Lunch:

  • Eat at your desk if you have to, but at least have something to eat! (Something healthy)
  • Bring a lunch bag with lunch and healthy snacks like fruit, veggies, hummus, nuts – it doesn’t take THAT much time – plan ahead the night before for success
  • Try to avoid or minimize starchy/sugary foods like pasta, bread, noodles, pastries or junk which will just make you tired and crave more sweets later on – perpetuating the crash cycle all over again
  • Eat a complete meal (that has a protein, carbohydrate and a fat) with proper portion sizes at every main meal, including lunch, as follows:
    • A portion of protein is the size of your palm, not including fingers (fish, meat, eggs, protein shakes)
    • A portion of healthy fat is about the size of your thumb – give or take (nuts/seeds, avocado, coconut/oil, olives/oil)
    • A portion of vegetables is the size of a closed fist
  • The occasional fruit or starchy carbohydrates like grains, potatoes, rice, pasta, etc., are what you can fit in a cupped hand – to keep your energy levels consistent try to avoid starchy carbs
  • Men can multiply these by 50%, or even double them if you find yourself really hungry or you exercise regularly

Minimizing starchy carbohydrates, as well as sweets or junk food, properly proportioning your complete meals and eating frequently, will help keep your blood sugar consistent. This will help you maintain your mood, energy levels, have less fatigue, less brain fog, will not crash during the day, and will feel better overall with more energy! It will also help you get work done faster!!!


Falling asleep at work is never a good thing; it might result in:

  • A bad reputation with your co-workers / boss
  • The loss of an important client

Good time management habits and eating well are easy, low-cost and very efficient ways to be a productive, helpful and healthy team player.

Happy Time Management and Healthy Eating. 

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

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About Bruce Mayhew
Bruce Mayhew is a Leadership Coach, Keynote Speaker and Corporate Trainer who builds strong client and co-worker relationships that give clients a competitive advantage. Our training and development programs include: ■Generational Differences ■Effective Business Email Writing ■Email Etiquette ■Phone Etiquette ■Behaviour Event Interviewing (BEI) ■Mindfulness ■Using Linkedin to Build Client Relationships ■Objective Setting Made Easy

One Response to Time Management and Healthy Eating: Avoiding The Dreaded Afternoon Slump

  1. Pingback: How to Work for Yourself: 100 Ways to Make the Time, Energy and Priorities to Start a Business, Book or Blog | AnjumsList

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