It’s 2:30 in the afternoon, and you’ve just returned to your desk from your lunch break. Needless to say, the last thing you feel like doing right now is work in any form or shape. And you’re not the only one. In fact, the afternoon slump affects us all. The will to live, to work… it simply leaves us, and we’re instead left with a desperate need to nap as if our lives depend on it.
It’s the worst part of the workday when our productivity levels seemingly flat-line, but you can bring it back from the dead. In fact, here are five cool ways to do just that.
1. Take 17-Minute Breaks
The power of taking breaks at work is underestimated by many on a daily basis. In fact, only one in five US employees actually take a lunch break, according to a 2012 Right Management survey. Another study, conducted by office supply chain store Staples, found that 20% of employees felt too guilty to take breaks even though 90% of employers encourage their workers to step away from their desks. Not only does taking regular breaks help lower the risk of on-the-job accidents and minimize mistakes and low-quality work, but it also boosts creativity, reduces aches and pains, and it even improves workplace productivity.
And now science has discovered the perfect formula for optimal productivity. In 2014, the lovely people behind the time-tracking productivity app, DeskTime, isolated the 10% most productive employees from their users and analyzed their computer-use behavior in a single workday. They found that the most productive people worked for 52 minutes and then had a 17-minute break; those 17 minutes were usually spent away from their desks talking to coworkers, taking a walk, or doing exercises.
2. Watch Funny Videos
If you ever watched “Surprised Kitty” or “Charlie Bit My Finger” on YouTube when at work, chances are you quickly switched programs or Internet browsers when someone was walking past your desk, so it didn’t look like you were slacking off. But you can now come out of the closet and watch funny YouTube videos at work out and be proud!
A 2014 Australian study found that watching funny videos could make you more productive at work. In the study, 124 University students were split into two groups and were all given a boring task to complete. One group was then made to watch a clip of British sitcom Mr. Bean and the other group was exposed to videos about nature and business management. When both groups returned to their work, the researchers, perhaps unsurprisingly, concluded that the first group was twice as productive as the second group.
So, the next time your boss catches you watching a compilation of kitties freaking out over cucumbers, tell him he can thank you later when your productivity hits the roof!
3. Take a Nap
Naps, glorious naps!
Unless you work at Google or Zappos, napping at work might be out of the question for you and reasonable grounds for dismissal. But, with a carefully prepared case on the many benefits that napping at work can provide you and your workmates (as well as the company), you just might be able to persuade your boss to let you get some shuteye in between answering e-mails and attending pointless meetings about office supplies.
fMRI scans show that a nappers’ brain activity remains high throughout the day whereas it deteriorates in people who don’t nap. Meanwhile, National Geographic found that napping makes you smarter, improves your memory, and boosts your creativity. It also improves job satisfaction and lowers turnover rates. But the benefits don’t end there.
In 2012, researchers at the Case Western Reserve University and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital confirmed that workplace napping is good for productivity. In fact, they even found that a 10-minute powernap was all it took. After testing four nap time spans (5, 10, 20, and 30 minutes), they concluded that the “10-minute nap produced immediate improvements… with some of [the] benefits maintained for as long as 155 minutes”.
4. Look at Pictures of Cute, Baby Animals
I can have productivity? Yes! Yes, you can!
While aww-ing at pictures of cute kittens isn’t considered very manly, especially in the workplace, it will help you perform your job responsibilities better. And researchers in Japan (where else?) can back that claim up.
Forty-eight students at Hiroshima University were asked to play Operation (the classic electronic skill and action game where players take turns removing various “ailments” from Cavity Sam). They were divided into three groups of 16 (8 men and 8 women), and each group was shown pictures of yummy-looking food (including steak and sushi), adult animals (cats and dogs), or baby animals (kittens and puppies) in between rounds. The first group’s performance only increased marginally as was the same for the second group’s performance. But, as can be expected, the third group’s performance shot through the roof, and they were far better able to remove Cavity Sam’s “ailments” without touching the edges of the openings and setting the buzzer off.
Now, with all the boring scientific research out of the way, it’s time to look at some cute baby animals – for productivity-enhancing purposes, of course.
5. Work from Home
When Marissa Meyer banned employees from working from home when she took over as the CEO at Yahoo! in 2013, a lot of people were naturally unimpressed. And it wasn’t just the Internet giant’s employees who were annoyed about the policy change (who, by the way, were even advised to “use [their] best judgment in the spirit of collaboration” when staying home for the cable guy). Jennifer Owens from Working Mother Media called the move “a step backwards”, and FlexJobs’ CEO Sara Sutton Fell said that “casting a blanket of blame on individual telecommuters” wasn’t a good way to keep employees engaged in their jobs.
And they were right – but you don’t have to take their word for it. In fact, plenty of scientific research says that working from the comfort of your home produces happier and more productive employees. One study, conducted jointly by researchers from Peking University and Stanford University, found that telecommuters saw a 13% performance increase than their non-telecommuting counterparts. They were even found to work longer, take fewer breaks, and take fewer sick days.
If your company offers a flexible working program, it’s a rather good idea to take advantage of it. Even if it doesn’t, you can propose the implementation of one to upper management along with the many benefits of working from home has to offer – both for employees and the company itself.
See Also: How to Overcome a Hard Day at Work
Can you think of any other cool ways to boost your productivity at work? Tell us in the comments section below, and don’t forget to share this article with fellow office dwellers in desperate need of a productivity boost!