It always happens, roughly between 2:30 to 4:30, during that stretch in the afternoon when you’re back from lunch and can’t quite see the end of the day yet. Perhaps your eyes start to droop or your mind starts to wander. Productivity seems hard, partly because you want to get so much done. You want to go and you want to do but with time stretching out in front of you, all order seems to have disappeared and confusion sets in.
It’s the afternoon slump.
Although I would love to say that I have managed to evade this dreadful period in the afternoon because I love my internship oh-so-much, I fall prey to distraction and tiredness during this period as well. After writing my morning short articles when I have PURPOSE, I get lost in the overwhelming saga of completing a larger project. Perhaps I need to break things down into smaller pieces, perhaps I need another glass of water. Perhaps getting lost is exactly what I need to do in order to find my way again.
Last week I had a shorter afternoon on day. I wanted to avoid the slump, I wanted to avoid a wandering mind when I had quite a bit to do. Part of the reason the afternoon drags for me is because I enjoy working under pressure. There’s something in knowing that a project must get done now that allows me to focus, to hone what I’m doing and work.
I decided to try the Mud Truck to give myself a much needed break from the desk. I walked up to the precariously high counter, feeling even shorter than I do on a train at rush hour when my head becomes an arm rest. The woman serving coffee asked if I wanted milk and sugar, causing me to cringe more than a little bit. Sugar? It doesn’t even combine in cold coffee.
Still, she poured in a decent amount of milk and I got a ridiculously long orange straw. I took a small sip and a little smile came over my face. All those long conversations I’ve had with people (okay, the one long conversation I had with my mother) about how Mud fits into the New York’s coffee world were illuminated. I was right, it’s simply a step up from cart coffee for people who want what you get at are a corner store, but are too cool to go in. Good? Not really, but it was soft, milky and completely drinkable.
I took my coffee back to work, trying not to drink too much so I could slowly sip as I typed. Sitting down, I got back to work. With a deadline and some coffee. I’m not going to make coffee a routine for the afternoon slump, but it was a lovely treat. Still, I’ll always prefer to have my caffeine intake from a good cappuccino or cortado at a nice cafe with a book in hand or a friend with whom to chat.
The afternoon slump, unavoidable, but how I react changes everyday. I can’t wait to see how I’ll react today. Perhaps I’ll slowly sip on water, or maybe I’ll make a mini deadline for myself. I could think about what I’ll do in the evening or how glad I am to be here, right now.
How do you deal with the afternoon slump when at work or at school?