Employee productivity worst in late afternoon: Survey

5 tips to avoid the slump and maximize productivity

The late afternoon is the most common time for workers to hit the productivity wall, according to a new survey.

Thirty-two per cent of senior managers surveyed by Accountemps staffing agency said 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. is the least productive time of day for employees. Coming in second was 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., as cited by 28 per cent of the 150 respondents.

"Productivity lulls in the workplace can be common, and managers should be conscious of this when scheduling important meetings or challenging tasks," said Kathryn Bolt, president of Accountemps' Canadian operations.

"As personal work styles differ, professionals should perform a self-assessment to identify their peak performance periods and schedule when they take on critical projects accordingly."

Five tips to help professionals avoid the afternoon slump and maximize productivity:

1. Plan ahead. Don't push challenging projects off until the end of the day, when your energy may wane. Use your less-energetic periods to catch up on more routine tasks, such as responding to e-mails and reading industry publications.

2. Get out and smell the roses. If you feel your energy beginning to dip, stretch or take a short walk to recharge. Try eating your meals or holding afternoon meetings outside.

3. Eat well. Remember to make time for lunch and nutritious snacks throughout your workday. Avoid high-carb foods, which can cause you to crash later.

4. Track goals. Keep a to-do list to remain focused, and ensure it's visible on your desk so you can check items off as they're completed. There's nothing more motivating than making progress on your projects.

5. Switch gears. If you're struggling to focus, take a quick break and research something new. Changing tasks can help increase your productivity late in the day.

Least productive time of day:

8 a.m. to 10 a.m: 9%

10 a.m. to noon: 3%

Noon to 2 p.m: 26%

2 p.m. to 4 p.m: 28%

4 p.m. to 6 p.m: 32%

Don't know: 2%

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