12 ways to be more productive at work

Do you hit that mid-afternoon slump every day? Rather than making a Starbucks run or pounding a couple of Red Bull energy drinks, follow these 12 natural ways to boost your energy and your productivity.

Be more productive at work

Be more productive at work

Staying energized, focused and productive at work can seem impossible, especially during that mid-afternoon slump. You know the one -- the 2 p.m. crash that not even a Starbucks run or a hastily chugged Red Bull can cure. Here, our experts offer 12 easy (and less caffeinated) ways to head off the slump and keep you energized and productive throughout your workday.

1 get zzzzzs

Get your Z's

It's cliché, but true: Lack of sleep will disrupt your workday. Burning the candle at both ends may be a temporary fix, but make sure you're not consistently going without sleep, says Tim Eisenhauer, president of intranet and collaboration software company Axero Solutions. "After one or two days, burnout becomes inevitable. You cannot operate at your peak performance without sufficient sleep each night," he says. While the amount of sleep you need will vary slightly between individuals, usually between seven and nine hours per night is the norm.

Start slowly

Start slowly

When you roll out of bed and immediately start working, mistakes happen. Try to give yourself time to mentally prepare for your day, Eisenhauer says. "Eat a real breakfast, make your coffee or tea at home, exercise or read the news. Those extra 20 minutes or so make a world of difference once you get to the office," he says.

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Prioritize your to-do list

Prioritize your to-do list

Starting the day with a double-digit list of tasks can stress you out before you've even started, not to mention you'll feel disappointed and unproductive when you don't finish (or don't finish). "Avoid this issue by keeping your task list reasonable and by carefully prioritizing it, with feasible deadlines. Investing the time to get organized at the beginning of each week and each day will save you time and boost productivity, and each day will feel more satisfying," Eisenhauer says.

Fading? Hit the gym!

Fading? Hit the gym!

There's no better way to jumpstart your metabolism, keep your brain firing on all cylinders and increase productivity than a quick midday workout. If you're lucky enough to have a gym within walking or driving distance or even on-site at your office, 20 minutes on an elliptical can be enough to kick your energy levels into high gear. If not, a simple walk around the block, or a jog up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator can be rejuvenating too, Eisenhauer says. Just get moving.

Cut back on caffeine

Cut back on caffeine

Too much caffeine leads to crashes, and it can also disrupt your sleep. Many of us need that initial jolt to get started in the morning, but try to moderate the amount of caffeinated drinks you consume each day, says Henry Albrecht, CEO of employee wellness solutions company Limeade. Cutting down on caffeine intake, or setting a time of day when you stop drinking caffeinated beverages, can help you better manage stress. "Maybe after, say, 2 p.m., avoid anything with caffeine in it. That can affect your sleep later on in the evening, and if you aren't well-rested, that will add to your stress," says Albrecht. If you've already had your daily quota and a colleague asks you out for a coffee, opt for a decaf or switch to tea.

Change your location

Change your location

Your work environment can have a huge impact on your mood and productivity. Even if your office is amazing, or if you work from home, switching things up helps keep your brain alert. Try working from a coffee shop for an hour or two, or find a place to work outside on a beautiful day. Even working from home for part of the day and relocating to the office midday (or vice versa) can help avoid a productivity slump, Eisenhauer says.

Manage multitasking

Manage multitasking

Just because you can multitask doesn't mean you should. The most productive people dedicate their full attention to one task at a time and recognize that juggling a number of tasks at once leads to confusion and mistakes, Eisenhauer says. If you can't avoid multitasking, break projects down into subsections and individual tasks and then work on prioritizing these. You'll stay more organized, productive and avoid mistakes.

Clean up

Clean up

A messy desk or office environment can be a productivity killer. When clutter starts to overwhelm you, set aside some time for a clean-out session, Eisenhauer says. "A cluttered workspace equals a cluttered mind. You'll be amazed how much easier it is to get things done when your space is tidy and organized," he says. If you can't get to everything in one day, try to set aside a few minutes each day for cleaning, organizing and purging excess clutter.

Take a mental break

Take a mental break

Even if you are on a roll for hours at a time, it's important to step away and give your brain a rest. "Clearing your head for five or 10 minutes every hour will allow you to get back to work with a fresh mindset. This is especially valuable when working on important projects. Get up, stretch, and maybe strike up a conversation with a co-worker. Take your mind off of your work so that you can return with a sense of clarity," Eisenhauer says.

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Develop a routine

Develop a routine

Routines are often confused with ruts, with complacency and a lack of innovation and forward progress. But when it comes to your work life, a routine will actually help you pinpoint effective methods and techniques to increase productivity, according to Eisenhauer. Try and wake up at the same time each day, set aside blocks of time for specific tasks and measure and monitor progress. This can also help you identify your most productive times. "This routine happens naturally for some people, but if it doesn't, it can be helpful to try setting a routine to see if it could benefit your work week," he says.

11 avoid time wasting sites

Avoid time-wasting sites

Watching silly videos or checking out social media updates can be a great way to take a mental break, but it can quickly become a time suck and waste valuable energy and productivity if you're not careful. If you struggle to say "no" to the latest cat video, you can try using browser extensions that block these sites, or set a rule for yourself that you won't visit them until after work hours. It can also be helpful to take a tech time-out, says Limeade's Albrecht. "Turn off all your electronic devices and focus on something other than a screen; you could even meditate during this time," he says.

Do the worst first

Do the worst first

It's understandable to push challenging, time-consuming responsibilities to the last possible moment, but procrastination can cripple not just your day but your entire work week. Optimize your productivity by getting the most difficult tasks on your to-do list finished, so your day gets easier with every passing hour. "If you leave complex responsibilities for the end of the workday, you will be even less motivated to tackle them then you were at the beginning, and you'll have less mental energy left to do the tasks well," Eisenhauer says.