Tips for Keeping the Afternoon Blahs at Bay on the Job

Posted by Kristin Arnold on July 31, 2008

It’s two o’clock in the afternoon and your team has hit the proverbial wall.  Rather than focus on the topic at hand, many would prefer taking a siesta — especially after that huge “z-burger” or hamburger with fries!

Rather than succumb to the team’s distant melodic voices, try to keep focus by:

Keeping It Moving.  Stay within the time frames allotted on the agenda.  Don’t let the team get bogged down on minor, inconsequential matters.  Avoid domination by a few by encouraging others to speak.

Sharing the Load.  Give each team member the responsibility to lead a specific agenda item, record what’s being said, facilitate the discussion, keep time, etc.  No one should be allowed to just sit back and observe.

Breaking It Up.  Rather than scheduling multiple heavy issues in a row, throw in a few “lighter” agenda items as a change of pace.  Or try breaking the meeting into smaller groups to focus on a key task or issue.

Passing on the Heavy Food.  Skip the hot, heavy meals and choose light and healthy foods and snacks that won’t put you in a catatonic state.  Stay away from the afternoon chocolate chip cookies that give you a surge of energy and then leave you flat as a pancake 30 minutes later.

Keeping It Cool.  Most teams operate comfortably at 68 degrees.  Try keeping the meeting room a few degrees lower.

Making It Interesting.  Many people become hearing-insensitive in the afternoon.  Don’t just talk at your team, but make it interesting and interactive.  Rather than presenting information, facilitate discussion and next steps.

Engaging All the Senses.  If you find yourself in the “receive mode,” keep yourself focused by doodling on a piece of paper, creating shapes from Process Putty™ or otherwise doing everything in your power to stay awake.  As long as you aren’t too distracting, it’s better to have half a brain engaged than no brain engaged at all in the discussion!

Standing Up.  When all else fails, stand up.  Move your feet.  Discreetly stretch  your arms and back.  If necessary, take a “personal break” to go outside and get some fresh air.

Taking a Break.  Especially in the afternoon, prevent the marathon meeting.  Plan regular short breaks every hour to two hours, depending on the circumstances.

Question:  How do you fight off the afternoon blahs?

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