Time seems to slow down, motivation slowly seeps away, and I’d swear that work becomes exponentially more difficult. Something about late-afternoons just isn’t good for productivity.
With a few tricks, though, it’s possible to turn those sluggish afternoons into something altogether more productive. Not only that, if you can take an incredibly productive morning and then finish it off with a productive afternoon, you’ll be on track to hit life-changing levels of productivity.
With that in mind, here are 5 easy ways to finish your day with a bang:
1. Set a Concrete Ending Time
Ever noticed how, as a freelancer, some afternoons seem to stretch into forever? Do you sometimes find yourself working late into the night trying to wrap up little things that could have been finished earlier?
One of the best ways to improve your productivity is to set a concrete, no-excuses, ending time. Anything that doesn’t get finished by that time, maybe 5pm, will have to wait until tomorrow. Having this solid end time will force you to pay more attention to what gets done during the work day, especially towards the end — I can guarantee you’ll be more productive as a result. (For those of you who are night owls, this trick can still be applied on your own schedule…)
2. Have an Afternoon Snack
One of the primary reasons that afternoons are difficult has to do with the way most of us eat. Three meals a day, ironically, is not very conducive to being extremely productive. A few hours after lunch you’re blood sugar will drop (if you’re human), and rest assured that your energy and motivation will disappear right along with it.
Luckily, this late-afternoon productivity killer has a tasty solution — eat a snack. Not only will a small afternoon snack help your productivity, it will also keep your metabolism running and will help you lose weight. Which might just be better than productivity :-)
3. Go For a Walk
Another big reason for reduced productivity late in the day is pretty obvious: sitting at a computer all day is tough. It’s not tiring in the same as working in construction or another physical job, it is tiring mentally. Not only is it difficult to be productive after sitting at a computer for several hours, it’s also very bad for you physically (especially your eyes).
Do yourself and your business a favor — get up and go for a walk. Most experts recommend 5-10 minutes for every hour on the computer, but I’ve found that you can see great results from even less than that. Give it a try and see what works best for you.
4. Review Your Priorities
Once your physical concerns are taken care of, it’s time to take a sobering look at what still needs to get done before the end of your day.
Pull out the to-do list that you created in the morning (you did make one, didn’t you?) and review what’s been done so far and what’s still outstanding on the list. Think about the following questions, being as realistic as you can be:
- What’s the most important thing left on your list?
- Are there any time-intensive tasks that aren’t really needed?
- Which items need to get done TODAY, which can done later?
The goal of your review is to create a manageable workload for the rest of your afternoon — a list of tasks that will make you smile when you think about everything you accomplished today. You also need to be honest with yourself about what tasks are no longer possible for this day, and plan to tackle them with a vengeance tomorrow.
5. Get Excited & Get to Work
Your body is taken care of, you’ve prepped your mind to work for the rest of the afternoon, and you even have a list of everything that needs to be finished. It’s time to get pumped up, dig your feet in, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and start working.
Chances are you only have a few hours left, so now it’s time to put on your superhero cape and see just how much work you can get done before the day is over.
Once you’ve become an afternoon productivity master, check out the companion article to this one: 5 Easy Ways to Start a Productive Day.
What do you think? What are your favorite afternoon productivity tips?