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Work Daze – Slump Dump

Hey, I loved “The Hills” as much as any other rugged, macho highly sensitive dude or dudette, but I never thought I’d be taking career advice from Lauren Conrad.

Spencer? Sure.

Audrina? You bet!

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But Lauren? It was only when I read a recent post on levo.com that I discovered that Lauren does have a lot to teach me. (I also learned that you and Lauren have a lot in common. You’re both button-cute, of course, and Lauren is now a “lifestyle guru.” Just like you!)

The post, which was posted by Meredith Lepore, is titled, “How Super Successful People Beat the Afternoon Slump.”

Since you are a super successful person yourself, the examples from other super-successfuls should be superuseful, so let’s dig in.

What is an afternoon slump? Lepore kicks off with a reasonable definition:

“2 p.m. rolls around and you want to die. Someone asks to borrow your stapler and you don’t see it immediately and almost cry. You are tired, you are brain dead and you can’t believe you still probably have at least three and a half hours before you have to go home.”

In other words, it’s exactly the same as your morning slump, when you arrive at work tired and brain dead, except it happens in the afternoon.

“Reading a good book” is Lauren Conrad’s solution to this condition. “There’s nothing quite like spending an afternoon,” she writes, “enthralled in a fabulous book.”

I agree. There is no better way to recharge your batteries for a long afternoon at work than to slither into your flannel onesie, put your feet up on your desk, and immerse yourself in the oeuvre of LaVyrle Spencer or Mickey Spillane. Alas, management may find that you are not demonstrating that energetic, can-do spirit.

Should you get negative feedback from your supervisor, explain that you are starting an intra-office book club as a team-building exercise. Chances are, your supervisor will want to join, assuming you read nothing more advanced than “Pat The Bunny.”

Super successful Richard Branson fights afternoon slumps with exercise. Eschewing early morning boot camps and the like, Branson launches a preemptory strike against slumpmania with a midmorning or late afternoon workout that includes “swimming, Bikram yoga, rock climbing, running and weightlifting.” He believes “exercise gives him at least four additional hours of productivity each day.”

This is an excellent strategy. Unfortunately, since it would take you at least 12 hours to get in all those exercises, you would end up with a net loss of eight hours a day.

If you’re not willing to make that tradeoff, I suggest you focus on just one element of the Branson workout — rock climbing. Considering the shape you’re in, your rock-climbing exercise should end about 30 seconds after it starts. And remember — no one will notice your afternoon slump when you’re in the hospital.

Winston Churchill simply ate through his afternoon slump. Churchill’s lunches typically went from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. It’s a little short of your usual lunchtime, but Winnie only worked to 5 p.m.

You can pull that off, I guess, when your job is running a country and winning a war. With your awesome responsibilities, it would never fly.

My favorite slump solution is from Arianna Huffington. She believes that “sometimes the best thing you can do is just shut your eyes, even if it is only for 15 minutes.”

Huffington was wide-awake when it came to providing her employees with opportunities to sleep. According to Lepore, she “believes so heavily in the power and the efficiency of sleeping that she had nap rooms built at The Huffington Post offices. And she is in good company. Thomas Edison also believed in naps in the afternoon.”

I suppose it’s churlish of me to suggest that if Edison didn’t spend so much time napping he would have skipped right over the phonograph and invented Spotify, but you do have to respect Huffington for providing those designated nap rooms.

If your company does not have a designated nap room, you can complain to OSHA, or write a sharp memo to your boss, but the fastest way to get results is to declare your office the official nap room. Throw out noisemakers, like your telephone and your computer. Bring in foam sleep mats and blankies.

It will take time for your co-workers to embrace the idea, but when they see you 100 percent slump-free and peacefully dozing from 9 to 5, they’re sure to get the idea.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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