10 Ways to Get Over the Afternoon Energy Slump

I recently shared an article on Facebook about how flexible work hours are changing the average American employee’s workday.

Some businesses are catching on that they’ll have happier, more productive employees if you give them the autonomy to choose their start times.

For instance, an early bird might benefit from starting her day at 7:00 am (like I used to in my book editor days), while a night owl knows she’ll get more done if she can stroll in at 10:00 am.

Flexible business hours are a kickass idea because you can honor your natural body rhythms and work on your highest priorities when you’re most focused. For me, that’s around 8:00 am…and after 2 cups of tea.

But regardless of when you sit down at your desk, hop in the car, stand at your station, or wherever your workspace is, you’re eventually going to feel your energy dip.

The dreaded afternoon energy slump could appear at 2:00, or 3:00, or 4:00, but whenever it happens, you’ll be fighting to keep your eyes open. Sooo sleepy….

And if you don’t work in one of those ultra modern Japanese offices with space-aged sleeping pods, you’d better perk up before your boss fires you.

Never fear, Life Editor! I’ve got the solution. No caffeine needed.

10 Ways to Get Over the Afternoon Energy Slump

  1. Frontload Your Day. Eat that frog and do your most important or most dreaded tasks first thing in the morning. Then it’ll be OK if you fall into a zombie-like state after lunch.
  2. Swap a Bad Habit. If you normally try to drown your sleepiness in Diet Coke, try swapping it out for a better alternative like doing 10 jumping jacks. If people give you weird looks, tell ‘em you’re rebooting your brain.
  3. Go for a Walk. I used to do this every day back in my old corporate life. I mapped out a 1-mile path that started at the front of the building and looped all the way back. I made sure to walk by my favorite stores on Michigan Avenue too. Nothing like window shopping to wake up your senses.
  4. Recite an Affirmation. Try something like, “I have endless energy and stamina.” Or maybe “Just 2 more hours. Just 2 more hours.”
  5. Write in Your Aspiration Journal. An energy slump might be triggered by boredom. Take a few minutes to write about your ideal life and what your day would look like if everything were working. You might be inspired to make some changes.
  6. Eat Well All Day. If you get sleepy after lunch, try swapping your usual sandwich or pasta for a salad loaded with all your favorite veggies. White carbs and sugar will drain you fast, so use your lunch as fuel!
  7. Stretch. Stand up from your desk already! I set my Jawbone Up24 to buzz me if I haven’t taken a step in the last hour. Reach up and get the blood flowing through your veins.
  8. Meditate. To-do list stressing you out? Take a moment of Zen and meditate. It doesn’t need to be some complicated routine. Just sitting and smiling has benefits.
  9. Play a Game. How about injecting some play into your workday? Try to answer as many emails as you can in 10 minutes. Can you get to inbox zero by the end of the day? If you’re really inventive, keep track of odd things that happen in the office. 10 points whenever someone says, “TPS report.”
  10. Call an Accountability Buddy. Sometimes it helps just to know you’re not alone. Call your best friend if you’re in corporate or another business owner if you’re an entrepreneur. Keep each other accountable by sharing what you accomplished yesterday, what your goals are for today, and how they can support you.

3 Simple Steps to Become a Productivity Superstar

Dump your excuses, transform your habits, and become the most productive person you know.


  1. Lisa on February 25, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    I believe in the power of green smoothies. I know that if I have one everyday in the morning, I don’t get that mid-afternoon slump. I need to take my own advice, because I’ve gotten lazy! I’ve started to freeze my kale or spinach so that I always have some.

  2. Jennifer Kennedy on February 25, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Great tips, Sage! I’ve been doing a lot more walking now that I have a dog. It has been super helpful to get out and get my blood moving.

    I find that stepping away from my work helps bring fresh ideas and a new perspective.

    I’m also taking a watercoloring course — I find that taking time to paint has helped as well.

  3. Erika on February 24, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Love the cat photo!! I’m a cat-person. 🙂

    Great ideas, Sage! I’ve noticed I start losing steam about 3:30-4:00 and I try not to do anything that involves a lot of thinking then. Just routine stuff during that part of the day if I can help it. My mind gets bored, too. I usually have to listen to music to keep my mind from wandering.

    I’m going to try changing what I eat for lunch. I like my carbs but if they are what makes me lose my focus in the afternoons, I may need to save them for the end of the day – or the weekend.

    • Sage Grayson on February 24, 2015 at 9:15 pm

      As soon as I saw the cat photo, I knew I had to use it. 🙂 Carbs make me sooo sleepy. I try to eat more veggies for lunch so I don’t crash and burn later.

  4. Sarah @ Long Island Nerd on February 24, 2015 at 10:03 am

    What great tips Sage! I definitely experience afternoon slump and I really love these tips, especially front loading your day and stretching. I’ve noticed that I have gotten into the habit of being super productive in the first 6 hours of my day and saving more distracting tasks like phone calls and e-mails and more passive tasks like uploading and importing for the end of my day. It has actually been working out really well for me 🙂

    By the way, starting off a post with an adorable sleepy kitty picture is always a great idea. SOOOOOO CUTE!!!!

    • Sage Grayson on February 24, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      Haha, the kitty picture is more popular than my advice! That’s great that you’ve found what works for you. Passive, no-brainer tasks are what I like to save for the afternoons.

  5. IneseMaria on February 24, 2015 at 6:43 am

    Sage, I looove your tips! I’m a night owl and always get sleepy in the early afternoon BEFORE my energy levels go to a maximum. And I’m so grateful I can start my day whenever I want.

    Before my new&healthy life, I used to drink a cup of coffee. I’ve tried different things now, but haven’t found my only or the best way yet. I motivate myself by splitting my to-dos in smaller steps and accomplishing them within an hour, then move to the next hour’s tasks. Sometimes I get into the flow. Or motivate myself with a reward that I’ll get after the work is done. Depends on the task too.

    But new tips are always welcome! Especially if they are playful and funny!

    • Sage Grayson on February 24, 2015 at 8:54 am

      Thanks, Inese! That’s so interesting that your energy slump comes before your most productive time. I like splitting my tasks into even smaller tasks too. Baby steps! 🙂