A study by LondonOffices.com says that approx 3pm is the most unproductive time of day at work. Luckily there’s a few easy ways to revive your focus and attention to the tasks in hand to get through the 3pm productivity slump.
1. Eat the right post lunch snacks
There’s certain foods that are known to improve your concentration and focus. Eating these as snacks, rather than Jaffa Cakes or crisps, will help to keep you laser focused on your work and the best thing is that many of them taste great!.
These foods include: Blueberries, dark chocolate, nuts, bananas, granola bars, popcorn with coconut oil.
2. Turn your phone off
Switching off your smart phone will give you a window free from social notifications, emails, calls and app alerts. This may just be enough to get you to 4pm and through the slump.
3. Grab a coffee
In a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, French physiologist Astrid Nehlig identified a link between caffeine and cognition.
Caffeine doesn’t improve learning or memory performance, but Nehlig found it does increase physiological arousal, which makes you less likely to be distracted and more able to focus during a demanding task.
4. Listen to some tunes
Studies out of the University of Birmingham, England, show that music is effective in raising efficiency in repetitive work.
Listening to some music through headphones also cuts out audible distractions while colleagues are less likely to interrupt you needlessly (if it’s important you’ll see them flapping their hands furiously to get your attention!).
5. Take a break
Just getting up and going for a short walk, a stretch or a quick chat with a colleague can be enough to recharge your focus and allow you to carry on with the afternoon’s work.
Science writer Ferris Jabr was quoted in Scientific American as saying, “downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation… and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life”.
Taking a break shouldn’t be seen as slacking off, quite the opposite. As well as improving your focus and concentration, it’s also important for your eye health and to avoid ailments such as headaches.
According to research, doodling can actually help you concentrate, especially during dull tasks.
According to a 2009 study in Applied Cognitive Psychology, 40 people listened to a recording of names and places and then had to write down as much as they could remember. Researchers asked half of the participants to doodle during the recording. Those participants who did doodle recalled almost 30% more information than those who did not.
7. Stand on your head
Inversion therapy is the act of hanging upside down or performing a headstand and is said to improve your concentration, memory and clarity of thought.
According to Dr. Robert Martin, an early proponent of inversion therapy and the author of The Gravity Guiding System: Turning the Aging Process Upside Down, the brain operates 14% more accurately when your body is an inverted or inclined plane.
8. Just drink some water
Our brains are 75% water, so even mild dehydration results in our brains shrinking and temporary loss of brain function. Students who drink water during exams perform 5% better than those who don’t and it takes only 2% dehydration to affect your attention, memory and other cognitive skills.
Staying properly hydrated will help you to concentrate and focus.
9. Go outside
In a study published online in the Journal of Attention Disorders, researchers at the University of Illinois led children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) through three different environments: a city park and two other less “green” urban settings. They measured an increase in attention after a 20-minute walk in the park.
In an Australia-based publication in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. It was found that even taking just 40 seconds to focus on a view of nature can boost “multiple networks of attention” which sharpens your mind to handle the next task dealt by the work day. They call it a “micro-break,”
10. Try focus boosting apps and sites
There are numerous phone apps and websites designed and dedicated to helping you concentrate and focus. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution but trying out a few may result in you finding one that suits your needs and helps you to focus. Focus apps include:
- Self-Control – Block out distracting websites for a set amount of time.
- FocusBooster – Focus on single tasks for 25 minutes apiece.
- Focus – Focus brings beautiful time-management to your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac.
- Forest – Forest is an app helping you put down your phone and focus on what’s more important in your life
- Momentum – Replace new tab page with a personal dashboard featuring ‘todo’, weather, and inspiration.
- Fast Company