It's mid-afternoon, and you've just hit a familiar slump. Time feels excruciatingly slow, your energy levels have dropped, and you're frustratingly prone to distraction (thanks, Instagram). It's a daily struggle that most desk dwellers can relate to—yes, even CEOs.
There's one key difference between successful women and those who let the afternoon get the best of them: They know that every hour in the office should be maximized, and they follow a routine to get back on track. Here, we asked women at the top of their career to share their top productivity hack. They run multimillion-dollar businesses, edit glossy magazines, and manage thriving teams—If anyone knows how to push past distractions and finish the day strong, it's them.
Quit procrastinating: This is the best way to overcome an afternoon energy slump, according to women at the top.
Schedule a Meeting
Monotony can breed complacency, so change up your routine with a well-timed meeting. Sallie Krawcheck, CEO of Ellevest and author of Own It: The Power of Women at Work, is all-too familiar with screen fatigue, and she says she alters her schedule to anticipate the afternoon slump. "I keep my mornings relatively free for impromptu meetings and writing. It's my most productive time during the day because I can think and work uninterrupted," she tells MyDomaine. "I schedule meetings in the afternoon to keep my energy up; otherwise I would fall asleep!"
Krawcheck also makes a conscious effort to stand when possible, including during meetings and phone calls. After an inactive day at her desk, it provides a quick and effortless energy boost. "I also like to get out of the office in the afternoon for some of those meetings, to change things up," she says.
Geri Hirsch and Erin Falconer, co-founders of LEAFtv, adopt a similar method to power through an unproductive afternoon. After hours of screen time, they invite their team to step outside for a brainstorm session. "Every day at 3 p.m., we go for a 4000 step walk to get in our steps, get some fresh air, and have a brainstorming session in a different environment," they explain.
Focus on Your Breath
"My go-to for an afternoon slump is so easy and so effective—you can do it from anywhere," says Tegan Bukowski, one of the trio of founders behind SereneBook, a subscription-based holistic health service. "When I am feeling tired, I go to a quiet place and do three rounds of a Kundalini breathing style called Breath of Fire. It's okay if it's a bathroom—you will have your eyes closed," she says.
Looking to try it out? Follow her simple instructions: "You take a breath in deep into your lower abdomen, and then using your stomach muscles you breathe out sharply, expelling air quickly, and then relax your stomach muscles again," she says. Without taking another big breath, Bukowski breathes out sharply three times. "Do it for a minute or two, and you will feel as though you've had more than just a cup of coffee. Your mind will be clear and ready for anything!"
Do a Creative Task
Most workplaces value logic and problem-solving, but it's also important to exercise the left side of your brain. Darcy Miller, the author and editor at large of Martha Stewart Weddings, says she fights afternoon fatigue by switching to a creative task.
"I always think doing something you enjoy helps break up your day and is a good way to get energized," she tells MyDomaine. "For me, that is drawing— it's a relaxing way to re-energize and a great way to give your mind a break. I usually carry some markers around in my bag with me, so when I need a pick-me-up, I can draw!"
Likewise, Nithya Thadani, president of digital agency Rain, says she takes her mind off work for a moment to recharge. "My daughter typically wakes up from her afternoon nap around 2:30 p.m., and I use that opportunity to do a quick FaceTime. Her energy is infectious!" she says. "It's a nice break in the workday, and it motivates me to work harder at the same time."
We know that leading a sedentary lifestyle is toxic—studies suggest it's linked with high blood pressure, anxiety, and obesity—but it can be tough to find time to get up and move when your job depends on a computer. If you're guilty of spending hours in a chair, CEOs agree—the afternoon is the perfect time to stand, stretch, and shake off that mental fog.
"I like to take 10 to 20 minutes to myself to recharge when I'm feeling a midday energy slump," says Caroline Ghosn, CEO of career platform Levo. "I'm an introvert by nature, which means that I draw energy from a short meditation or a walk around our office neighborhood with a little bit of sunshine and fresh air."
Vicki Fulhop, co-founder of Brooklinen, says that movement is key to inspire creativity. "A little fresh air, change of scenery, and movement do the trick to reinvigorate me," she says.
Likewise, when SereneBook's Jordan Daly escapes the office environment she returns feeling renewed. "I can get stifled if I am in circulated air for too long," she says. "Regardless of the weather, step outside, put 'Thinking of You' by Sister Sledge on repeat, and remind yourself [that] you choose your life every day."
Nourish Your Body
Need an instant energy fix? Pay attention to the type of snacks and drinks you reach for. SereneBook's Millana Snow swaps the momentary high from a cup of coffee for the sustained energy in a green juice. "I make sure I have a green juice or something healthy and fresh in my system," she says. "Sometimes our bodies need nutrients, so green juice tends to wake up my body and mind."
If you don't have a juicer on hand, Vanessa Quigley, founder of Chatbooks, says a glass of water might be all it takes to feel revitalized. "I feel more energized and awake when I'm well-hydrated, so I keep a water bottle on my desk and in my purse."
How do you power through an afternoon energy slump? Reach for these snacks for an extra boost.