How Can Freelancers Fight the Afternoon Slump? Tips for Boosting Energy

Some people picture freelancers as superhumans of productivity.

While it may be true earlier in the day, there are usually unavoidable lulls.

How Can Freelancers Fight the Afternoon Slump? Tips for Boosting Energy

Every working individual is susceptible to the afternoon slump, no matter the arrangement.

Although flexible working hours and remote setup are among the perks of freelancing, these factors actually heighten the possibility of the afternoon slump.

Procrastinating only adds work later and not all self-employed individuals are night owls.

The best way to beat the slump is to fight it rather than waiting to crash and burn.

Of course, to do this, you must have the right game plan that blends creativity, structure and effort.

1. Opt For a Light Lunch

A heavy lunch could be one reason why you experience an afternoon slump. Imagine how full you feel after eating a giant burrito with rice, beans, meat and other fillings.

Add a dessert and you might feel like you can barely move.

To avoid zapping your energy, choose something light to eat.

A salad nourishes your body with important vitamins without making you feel bloated. If you’re still hungry, eat half a sandwich with turkey, lettuce and tomatoes.

2. Keep an Energizing Snack

Forgetting to eat or snacking on unhealthy foods throughout the day could also contribute to sluggishness.

Be sure to keep energizing snacks on hand to munch on, such as the following:

  • Yogurt: Yogurt is a light, probiotic-rich snack to store in your refrigerator. Keep your favorite flavors within reach as you work.
  • Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate is a great option for satisfying a sweet tooth. Limit yourself to one or two pieces to reward yourself for completing a task.
  • Coffee: Coffee is the ultimate energy drink when the afternoon becomes slow. Just remember to limit your intake to prevent poor sleep habits.
  • Green tea: Green tea is an excellent alternative to coffee. Evidence suggests regular green tea consumption lowers cognitive impairment in middle-aged adults especially.
  • Nuts: Walnuts, pistachios and macadamias all boost energy. A trail mix containing pretzels, chocolate chips and raisins is a delicious way to switch it up.
  • Gum: Chewing gum may stimulate your nerves and improve your focus. Give the Doublemint a shot if you can’t concentrate.

3. Take a Quick Nap

A quick nap can help resolve your energy problems.

Set your timer for 20 minutes and leave your home office, resting on the couch so your body recognizes a lighter sleep versus a total 8 hours in bed.

After a bit of shut-eye, you should feel recharged and ready to accomplish your workload.

4. Step Outside

If you feel sleepy, your computer or tablet may be straining your eyes.

Combat this by stepping outside without gadgets.

Sitting on the porch for a few minutes or walking through your neighborhood is more restful for your eyes than you might think and helps recharge your brain.

5. Try the Pomodoro Technique

Freelancers struggling with energy and focus can benefit from the Pomodoro technique. Work for 25 minutes and reward yourself with a 5-minute break — repeat this a few times.

If the afternoon feels slow, motivate yourself with 15 minutes to relax every hour. Your self-made workday will be over before you know it.

6. Play Music at Home

As relaxing as classical music and instrumental tunes can be, they may contribute to your afternoon slump.

Music can affect mood, so look for lively songs to revitalize your afternoon —  for example, Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” or Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

However, writers may find the noise and singing distracting altogether, so see what works for you.

7. Take a Cold Shower

Some employees dream of a midday cold shower to wake themselves up, so embrace your freedom and give it a try.

Set aside time to lather up, allowing the running water to clear any worries.

8. Stand and Stretch

Sometimes, beating the afternoon slump can be as simple as standing up from your seat and stretching. To beat that sitting position entirely, consider investing in a standing desk.

Studies show those who spend 23 hours per week sitting at a desk are 64% more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those who spend 11 hours sitting.

Investing in a standing desk can significantly cut down on your sitting time.

9. Have a Quick Workout

If a stretch isn’t enough, adopt a quick workout.

There are plenty of office chair routines that help your neck, shoulders and spine.

You can also buy a new gym equipment like the following:

  • Treadmill: Picture shooting off emails while working your muscles in the afternoon.
  • Jump rope: If you have time between tasks, consider jumping rope to get your blood pumping.
  • Exercise mats: Practice yoga and meditation to help you re-center.

10. Visit a Coworking Space

Freelancers don’t have to feel stuck in their home office during an afternoon slump.

In 2022, about 1.08 million people worked in coworking spaces in America.

There can be a certain appeal to being surrounded by productive people, encouraging you to feed off their moods and energy levels. Pick a day of the week to bring your work outdoors to break the dullness in your routine.

11. Rearrange Your Tasks

Your slow energy may be due to speeding through the easy tasks, leaving the more difficult tasks during the afternoon.

Adopt an eat-the-frog mentality where you prioritize complex and critical duties first. Once you complete the challenging assignments, you won’t have to force an energy boost for projects later in the day.

12. Add More Deadlines

Being self-employed means dealing with deadlines on your terms.

If you feel like you work better with a sense of urgency, impose a couple of deadlines and find ways to hold yourself accountable.

For example, you can’t watch your favorite show’s finale unless you finish a project before the day ends.

Seize the Afternoon

Every freelancer will find a different solution to their afternoon slump, so work with yourself. If schedules persist and your energy levels aren’t going right during the afternoon, pause.

Keep your afternoon as the rest period and dedicate productive hours at other times of the day.

You got this!

Cora Gold is a freelance writer and Editor-in-Chief of women's lifestyle magazine, Revivalist. She has been featured on sites including Mediabistro, Wrkfrce and Remote Tribe, covering productivity, mental health and organizational tips for freelancers.

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