In these high-stress, high-layoff times, it’s tempting to spend 1,000 hours at your desk trying to prove that you should be spared from management’s next downsizing bingefest. But if you spend 990 of those hours staring bleary-eyed at your computer screen while pouring coffee down your shirt, then you’re not going to be very effective at proving your intrinsic worth to the company, now are you? Since HR discourages under-desk napping (trust us, it never goes as planned) and your assistant is claiming workman’s comp for injuries sustained while lugging energy drinks in bulk from Costco, you’ll need to find another way to get a quick buzz when the 3 PM (or 3 AM) crash inevitably hits. Try these tricks to tide you over until your next shipment of 5-hour energy arrives.
Turn your sad snacks into supersnacks
The siren song of sugary treats is loudest circa whenever your body decides it can’t handle any more spreadsheets or passive aggressive emails from the VP of marketing, but feasting on leftover Halloween candy will increase your fatigue exponentially as the day goes on. Trade in the mini Mars bars for protein- and energy-packed supersnacks that include a mix of fiber, protein and good fat, like popcorn (the air-popped, non-butter-saturated kind; it’s full of fiber), nuts and seeds (almonds and walnuts are the best – in moderation – with their healthy blend of essential fatty acids and protein), fruit and dairy (apple slices and cheese, yogurt and strawberries, or pineapple and cottage cheese are all delicious combinations that contain calcium, fiber and protein to keep you going through the end of the workday), or veggies and hummus.
Go for a walk
A brisk walk in fresh air can perk you up immediately, and getting away from your desk will get you out of whatever obsessive TPS-report-related thought pattern you’ve been in for the past four hours. Up the ante by doing some jumping jacks along the way to get blood flowing to your brain; if you can’t get out of the office, reap similar benefits by closing your door and knocking out a few pushups and sit-ups to get oxygen and endorphins flowing through your body.
Drink a few gallons of water
Dehydration can make you feel tired and sluggish, which can then prompt you to run out for a mid-afternoon triple-shot latte. Before you reach for the caffeine(which also dehydrates you) get at the root of the problem with a boatload of water instead of more dehydrating stimulants. When your body craves water, Starbucks will only make you more jittery and anxious than you already were. Our bodies are 70% water, not mocha breve.
Get your groove on
For a quick boost, dial in your favorite picker-upper, be it Beethoven or Billy Idol, and rock out for a few minutes. Studies show that listening to fast music can make people drive faster (dangerous!), but the heart-pumping effect it has on your body can also boost your energy to get you through all the times you aren’t operating a two-ton vehicle (beneficial!). If you have the space, getting up and getting jiggy with your bad self can also give you a rush that will enable you to spend the rest of the day working smart, not hard.
Organize and prioritize
The daily grind can really get a man down. Sitting at a desk that’s overflowing with papers, post-its and memos is not only depressing, but also notoriously energy-sapping, even for those among us who consider themselves “creative” (aka: necessarily disorganized). When you feel your energy waning, de-crap your desk area, make a list of what you absolutely need to accomplish by the end of the workday, and then prioritize your other projects by due-date or complexity. Much like a toddler who has just discovered the joy of dressing himself, you will enjoy great rapture at having taking some measure of control of your professional destiny.
Breathe, stretch, repeat
It might sound new-agey, but yoga and meditation are incredibly energizing (even when done in small doses) and actually not as L. Ron Hubbard as you might think. In as little as five minutes you can get through a series of stretches at your desk to alleviate joint pain and energize your body; if you have ten minutes, you can get through a mini-meditation characterized by deep breathing that can restore your focus and calm whatever stress hormones are having their way with your nervous system. By making a concerted effort to take an afternoon wellness break, you can both avoid some of the nastier side effects of the 9-5 lifestyle and give yourself an edge over all of the saps who think nonstop work is synonymous with quality output.