Writing on the principles & practice of building digital products

Nature's lunchtime revenge

Putting the post-lunch lull to good use.

I'm unable to nap at work. It's not that I'm physically incapable of doing so, but it would be distracting and probably give off the wrong message if I were to grab 15 minutes on the sofa with clients milling around.

And sadly as I write this, I'm yet to gain complete control of my circadian ryhthms. Therefore, the post-lunch lull is an unavoidable part of my work day. 2pm rolls around, and my much needed brain blood has been re-routed stomach-ward, where it will be colourfully occupied for the next hour or so.

Humans have evolved to nap. It's how we're wired. It's also been shown to be the best way to get over a case of the post-lunch sleepies:

In 2008, British researchers reported results of a study that compared getting more nighttime sleep, taking a nap, and using caffeine as ways to cope with the afternoon hump. The nap was the most effective. Harvard Health Publications

Naps work, but they're just not always possible. So where does that leave us? In recent months I've been trying to follow a guideline for how I split my workday, and I've found it pretty productive. The basic idea is this:

Keep two todo lists; life admin, and things you need full brain power to focus on. Only do things from your life admin list straight after lunch. Don't do life admin tasks for the rest of the day.

Directly after lunch, my brain doesn't have the necessary thrust to take on complex or creative tasks. This makes it a really bad time to write a business plan, but a great time to pay a bunch of bills or buy something from Amazon. Conversely, first thing in the morning I've got the requisite vim and vigour to take on something which would have the potential to reduce me to a weeping wreck after a particularly filling Pret sandwich.

By consciously trying to match what I take on to my energy levels, I can get more of the difficult stuff done when I'm able, and the life admin stuff done when I'm not.