While many of us start the week off on the right foot and are filled with tons of Monday morning inspiration, that get-up-and-go feeling starts to disappear by Wednesday a.m. Often called "hump day" because you feel like you have to get over the hump, so to speak, and make it to the weekend, Wednesdays don’t have to be lacking the motivation of a fresh new work week. Here are 5 ways to get more energy mid-week so you can reach your career goals, follow your dreams and maintain your love for what you do.
1. Focus On Your Diet
Try adding some healthy fats to your work lunches and afternoon snacks. Good fats don’t make you fat, or make it hard to fit into your favourite jeans the way that a huge dinner of steak and fries do. Healthy fats are good for our brains and that’s good news for when you need a pick-me-up at work. You could even see a productivity boost which would be welcomed any time of day, but especially during the dreaded afternoon slump. Eat a handful of almonds or cashews, grab a spoonful of creamy peanut butter, or spread some avocado on whole-grain crackers or even a piece of bread. You will be full and satisfied immediately and ready to focus.
Don’t forget about drinking lots of water during your work day. Those of us who want to stick to a healthy diet know that staying hydrated is crucial to keeping up energy levels and making sure that we don’t mistake thirst for hunger. But if you hate water, you might be tempted to drink soda or fruit juice -- which is super unhealthy and filled with sugar. You don’t have to guzzle h20 even if it bores you to tears. Find a healthy alternative, like unsweetened ice tea from a cafe close to the office, or add some strawberries and lime to a bottle of sparkling water. These drinks will keep your taste buds engaged and interested and wake you up as much as plain old water would.
Another way to ensure you’re feeling as energetic as can be? Figure out if you’re actually eating enough calories. We all want to stay healthy and as slim as possible, but it’s also possible to consume far too few calories, which will make us feel tired. Consider adding some more fattening (and therefore filling) foods to your breakfast and lunch, or having a larger portion of whatever leftovers you usually bring to work to enjoy for lunch. Losing two or three pounds isn’t worth it if you’re hungry all day long and too tired to focus, because your overall health will suffer, not to mention your career.
Make sure you also snack on some hydrating fruit. Watermelon, oranges and pineapple are super hydrating fruits and because they’re sweeter than, say, an apple or a pear, they’re a lot more satisfying as a snack. You will definitely feel more awake after eating these fruits because of their sugar content. It’s the good kind of sugar, though, so you’ll feel better than you would if you ate a chocolate bar.
2. Schedule Meetings Mid-Week
You might think it seems like a terrible idea to have a meeting on a Wednesday when that’s exactly when you’re yawning, wondering why you’re so exhausted and counting down the hours until the weekend. But it’s actually smart because it will force you to pay attention and, essentially, wake up.
According to experts, the best time to have a meeting is at 3 in the afternoon on a Tuesday. Follow this advice and suggest that your boss/manager or co-workers schedule important meetings for 3 p.m. on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Everyone will be glad it’s not happening on a Monday (when you are catching up on everything after the weekend) and Friday. Why is 3 p.m. considered such a great time? The answer is interesting: it’s because people can spend the entire day leading up to it getting ready. Employees may not be as ready as they should be if the meeting is held first thing. If your manager says they’re worried that 3 p.m. is too late in the day for a meeting, tell them about this research, and maybe they will follow your lead. After all, if everyone is better researched and willing to share ideas that will benefit the entire office then it’s definitely worth a try.
Another great reason to have meetings in the middle of the week rather than at the beginning or end is that mid-week is the time you start to feel burnt-out. You are tired of staring at endless emails and are starting to lose your desire to work hard. But knowing that you have a meeting will break up the week and help you return to your desk feeling refreshed. Think of it as a very productive break.
3. Create a New Routine
If you dread Wednesdays because you’re so close to the weekend but not quite there yet, you most likely feel the most tired on this day and have to push through to get your projects done. Why not create a new Wednesday routine? If you reframe the middle of the week in a more positive way, you will look forward to it and it might even become your favorite day of the week.
In a perfect world, we could leave the office and head to a yoga class or the gym to boost our energy levels, since we all know that exercise wakes us up instantly. But, of course, that’s not possible when we work full-time. But try to sneak in ways to get a bit of movement in, like asking a co-worker to go for a 5 minute walk around the block. Take a few breaks during the work day and read your favorite blog or pick a new recipe to make for dinner tonight. Changing your focus and doing something small that makes you happy will make you feel more awake.
Another way to shake up your usual routine is to make Wednesdays the day that you write something, no matter what it is. When we’re starting to get tired and find it hard to concentrate, it’s tempting to want to cruise for the next little while, but we’re still at work. We can’t just quit and go home early. Write an email to your manager about a looming project or craft a funny email to your friend. It will wake you up and make you feel instantly better. And it’s a lot better than staring at your computer screen and wondering when you can leave the office.
4. Make Weekend Plans
Did you know that in order to feel content with ourselves and our place in the world, we need to have a social plan/event/or something coming up that we’re excited about? According to happiness expert and author Gretchen Rubin, this strategy makes us happy because it involves "anticipation" beforehand, "savoring" during the event, "expression" (showing others you’re having fun), and "reflection" afterwards.
Having something fun to look forward to can really help boost your energy levels when you’re fighting the mid-week slump at your desk. Email a friend and ask them what they’re up to this Saturday night. Get your girlfriends together for a wine and book club, or invite some people over for a casual dinner party.
Spend five minutes planning a social plan and then get back to work. You may be surprised at how much better you’ll feel, use this burst of joy to fuel your work day and the remainder of the work week. It makes sense when you think about it: if we have something fun on our calendars, we feel better, and if we feel better, we want to work hard and do well. So never feel guilty about wanting to see your friends and have a social life on the weekends. We will never be happy if our lives are all work and no play, after all.
5. If All Else Fails, Blast Some Pop Music
You know that when you’re having a rough day or need to wake up on your morning subway commute to the office, you put on your favorite pop singer’s latest album and instantly feel good. It’s actually been scientifically proven that music leads to happiness. This is because the act of listening to a song leads to dopamine which is called "the feel good chemical."
So listen to some fun pop music but don’t forget your headphones, or your cubicle-mate might start getting annoyed. But there’s a reason that pop music is played in work-out classes. It’s the definition of energy-inducing music.
If you struggle to remember why you even enjoy your job on a dreary Wednesday morning, check out these 5 ways to get more energy mid-week. Focus on a healthy diet that includes good fats, drinking lots of water, and enjoying some hydrating watermelon for an afternoon snack. Suggest that meetings be scheduled on a Tuesday or Wednesday so you can break up the monotony of the week. And if you’re really tired, listen to some uplifting pop music. You’ll be motivated and ready to work in no time.