After a good amount of practice with themorning's daily motivation, you have finally reached noon with a full head of steam. While the first part of the day is often the hardest, keeping yourself going through the lull of the afternoon can be a challenge. Most people will eat a big lunch, perhaps with another hit of caffeine and be ready for a nap by around 2:30 to 3 PM. If you are going to get through work and ready to get some writing done in the evening, you must take a different route. A lot of your afternoon work involves maintaining your positive energy from the morning, taking strides towards evening productivity, and just plain being healthy.
Early Afternoon: 12 PM – 2 PM
Lunch of Champions
The typical office lunch is a starved grabbing of a heavy sandwich mixed with the leftovers you brought from the previous night. Often there is little to no eating after breakfast, so you stuff yourself silly with as much food as you can put down. This food then sets off a program in your brain to divert more energy to digestion and less to thought. The mind wanders as the stomach churns and the afternoon is all but lost.
But you will do better.
If you’ll remember, during the first half of the day, you had a smart snack to keep your energy up and to prevent the need for a huge lunch. If you have taken this intelligent step, why ruin it with a mammoth meal? Gather yourself a nice and healthy plate, with as many fruits and vegetables as you can scrape together. Keep the meal under 500 calories if you can, but a ton of healthy calories can trump that rule if you’re starving. Stay away from the sugary snacks and the high preservatives (frozen microwaveable meals are full of them!) and you will notice something strange at the end of your break.
You aren’t tired. You actually feel rejuvenated instead of stuffed and sleepy. Remember that feeling, because you won’t always be perfect with this step if you have to order in from a fast food joint every so often. If you can remind yourself of how it feels when you eat a Lunch of Champions, you’ll work hard to make it happen again.
At the end of your lunch break or right when you come back you should make any changes necessary in the plan you formed earlier in the day. You may have received an e-mail that will require an adjustment in your evening, or an impromptu meeting could have been scheduled that will affect your afternoon. Plans are meant to be edited, altered, and improved upon, so don’t worry about having to spruce them up a bit. If reality always reflected our plans, we would get bored pretty quickly.
Also, if any of the notes you’ve taken on your note pad have filled you with excitement, take this time to further brainstorm off of them. This can really set you on a tangent mentally, so make sure to actually return to work…unless you want to be a full-time writer, then leave a nice note and head out the door :).
You are back to work and nearing the 2 PM hour. At this time you may feel a little sluggishness, some of which is brought on by the food, some is a result of your body’s natural clock, but some might be because you’re sitting down and not all of the energy is flowing properly. Take some time at 2 PM to just breathe.
Take in your surroundings, stop what you’re doing, breathe a big deep breath in and take a big deep breath out. Repeat this a few times. For some people who are not used to breathing for this purpose (breathing just to breathe), there is a big change can come over them. They feel more awake, more alive and more focused on the tasks ahead of them. Incorporate this step into your afternoon and it will help keep the balloon bouncing just a little bit longer.
Mid-Afternoon: 2 PM - 4 PM
Another one of those “reasons we get tired that we don’t quite realize at the time” is dehydration. While we’re sitting there typing away we sometimes get so focused in on the work that we don’t take into account how much water we’ve had. When I used to work in an office more regularly, I could never quite explain my 2:30 PM lull. I would eat an energy bar and try to take a walk around. I’d even have a 2nd or 3rd cup of coffee (I hadn’t weaned myself off of that stuff yet) and still I felt dead in the water.
The coffee, the food, the sitting, the walking, and the typing was all keeping me from drinking more water than the typically tiny cups that are provided at offices. This is also another anti-coffee and caffeine notice: these products are diuretics which make you lose water faster. All this lack of drinking and water loss can lead to you feeling agitated and spacey. The way to get this back is to take a big long drink at the water fountain or to fill a few big cups with water and drink them over the next hour or so. You may need to use the restroom more often than usual later, but your brain will thank you for the support.
Plant a Seed
This is the step that is a bit of preparation for later in the day and it is decidedly optional. One of the things that helps me get through the day is knowing that I have people I could call who would say nice things to me. If I’m ever feeling down, I call one of them up and try to move the conversation toward me getting a compliment and feeling better about myself :). If you have a person like that in your life, send them a nice text around 3 PM or so. Just a “happy to have you in my life” or a “miss you, was thinking of you” text.
This is a win-win situation. You have the knowledge of sending a really nice text to someone, that you can refer back to from your Sent box for the rest of the day. You can feel good about brightening up your friend’s time at work. If you receive a text back, wait until the end of work to check it. When you do, chances are that it will be another nice and positive text waiting to lift your spirits. The only catch of this, is that you should really feel the feelings that you send in the first text message so you don’t feel like a fraud when you receive the reply. If you are being truthful, both sending and receiving these positive texts will make everything feel just a little bit better.
This is the mid-afternoon version of the breathing exercise from earlier. If you don’t get the blood circulating through your body, you are bound to feel a little bit lethargic. Get up and take a walk over to the bathroom or somewhere you won’t be bothered. If you feel odd about stretching in front of your co-workers, go out for a healthy “smoke break.”
I have a stretching routine that is a combination of my wrestling and soccer practice warm-ups. You can use the same as me, or use one that is more comfortable or typical for you. I do each of these without bouncing for 10 or so seconds. I reach down to my toes, then up to the ceiling. I cross my legs each way and do the same to the toes and up to the ceiling. I spread my legs and then I reach to the middle and to either side, then I repeat the same with my knees bent. I do quad and hamstring stretches by putting each foot out and trying to touch it and then pulling my ankle behind my back. I’ll throw in a groin and a glute stretch if I have time.
After finishing your routine, shake it all out and feel the blood rushing to those dormant parts of your body. This is a great way to continue feeling positive energy flowing throughout the rest of your afternoon.
Late Afternoon: 4 PM to 6 PM
Repeat any of the previous steps between 4 PM and 5 PM if you need a little boost of energy. A smart snack or a stretch can do wonders if you’re getting sleepy. When 5 PM rolls around there is a big feeling of joy as you can finally get home and start working on the “fun stuff.” Hold on. Let’s make sure we know what we’re doing first.
Remember when the bell would ring for the end of class in high school? Most of the kids quickly packed up their stuff and ran to get a conversation or two in before the next class. Some of the kids slowly organized their things and took a look at what was coming up. That is what you should do before you go home.
Take another look at your plan and make sure you know what’s going to happen next. Jot down any last second thoughts that will help you out. Gather a little bit of excitement of the productivity you’re about to work with. And then, you may leave.
It’s time to get back on the train or into the car. Before you throw on that amazing audio program you were listening to earlier, you should take some time to get the unwanted tasks out of the way. Did your wife ask you to pick something up? Go to a grocery store before you start the trek home. Was there a pressing message left on your machine while you were at work? Give them a quick call before you get in the car or while you’re on the train.
Taking care of these things now ensures fewer distractions when you sit down and start to work at home or at the place of your choosing. There is no bigger buzz kill then getting into your creative flow and having someone tell you that there is an immediate problem that needs to be addressed. Nip it in the butt and take care of that sort of stuff right now.
Learning 2: The Revenge
Once those dreaded tasks are out of the way, feel free to go back to your audio listening. If you feel like you weren’t able to quite absorb the information from earlier in the program, rewind it back and listen to it again. There are so many tidbits of life advice out there, might as well try to get them all while you’re taking the time out of your day.
Here’s one suggestion to make any kind of personal development stick which I got from Steven Covey. Make the effort to teach the info you pick up almost immediately to someone else. This will help you to get a well-rounded understanding of the concept.
You are amazing! You have gone from 6 AM to 6 PM and you are still happy and motivated as you walk in through the front door. This is when the typical American Leisure Time kicks in. You will be spending your time a little bit differently than the masses.
If you have trouble with any particular part of this afternoon daily motivation, don’t worry. You do not have to be perfect for it to have an effect. It will get easier and you will become a stronger more motivated person. Keep plugging away. Your co-workers might even ask you how you’ve made such a change. Just tell them a little bird gave you a few ideas :).