3 at 3:00 – Tips to Avoid the Workplace Twilight Zone

3 Tips to Make it Through the Afternoon Slump

Productivity. It’s not just a human resources buzzword.

By the time it’s 3 o’clock, whether you’re a financial analyst or a schoolteacher, a nap feels long overdue, taking a stroll through YouTube and Imgur seems more and more appealing, and you find yourself reaching for potato chips, Twizzlers and caffeine. When 5 o’clock rolls around, you’re either crashing from the sugar spurt or are zombie-eyed after guzzling the dregs of the staff room black coffee. There are few unhealthier ways to end your day, but these three tips will make the afternoon pass quickly, smoothly and at 5, you can pat yourself on the back as you sail out of the office, feeling a little better than when you came in.

1. Being productive at 3 PM actually starts at 9 AM. 

You can avoid the urge to snooze at 3 by making your morning more interesting.

Do one or more of the following: before-work yoga (it sounds ridiculous and stressful and tiring, but the glorious lightness your body will feel is second to none – plus, how awesome is it that you can hit happy hour, your body swinging from your sunrise exercise, right at 5:30?), a solid breakfast (I’m talking TV-commercial style: cereal, toast, OJ/tea/coffee, fruit, maybe an egg if you’ve got time), or gussy up. Looking good often results in feeling good – your sartorial confidence will radiate happy vibes, and people love being around happy people.

A full breakfast will ensure smaller portions at lunch, and a healthier mindset about snacking at 3 PM.

2. Avoid the no-no foods. 

It’s natural to feel hungry at 3 PM – it’s the midpoint between lunch and dinner, and to boost metabolism you should eat a little something by 4:30.

For a healthy salty-sweet fix: crunch factor fans, brown-bag some hummus and pita chips (when packing up the stuff at home, drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle minced garlic on the hummus – your mouth will get a much needed zing), roasted unsalted almonds, baby carrots, or, a personal favorite, Terra Vegetable Chips. For dessert, splurge on some Chobani yogurt (the blood orange variety is fresh and lovely), dark chocolate (for an anti-oxidant boost), or fruit – whatever is in season is fine. Wash it all down with water, or herbal tea. After 1 PM, caffeinated drinks are totally off limits – you’re not doing your body and mood any favors by downing Coke or a double espresso at 3:30 PM. Acceptable alternatives: chamomile, peppermint, orange spice, decaf Earl Grey teas.

Destroying a printer with angry office-mates makes for great cinema, but avoid a perpetual case of the Mondays by snacking healthily and exercising.

3. Walk it out.

As soon as you begin to zone out, or feel your eyelids grow heavy, get up.

Walk around the office – say hi to your friends, maybe pop into the boss’s den with updates on work you’ve done, replenish stationery supplies. Weather permitting, pop out for a few minutes – sunshine and a breeze are any day more rejuvenating than the air-conditioned office. On your way back to your desk, step into the restroom and wash your face with cold water. Dab away and look in the mirror – take some deep breaths, and give yourself a pep talk. You’ve worked hard, you’ve tried to be healthy. Only two more hours. You got this.

Office workers across the country have trouble staying on task from 9 to 5 – scroll below for (funny) details on low productivity:

How do you make it through the afternoon slump? Name your tips below!

photo credit: Adikos via photopin cc


  1. I love this post! I’m the queen of the afternoon slump. Somehow it never occurred to me that what I might be eating for breakfast could affect it! I’m going to start keeping an eye on what I’m eating in the AM vs how I feel in the afternoon for sure now.

  2. Thanks Joanna! I feel the same way – in the office, as soon as it’s 3, we all start shifting around in our seats, waiting for someone to take the coffee order. I got cider instead yesterday, and it was great – plus it was guilt-free. Eating breakfast is like a miracle for me, but it really does help you hit the ground running.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here