This Is The Least Productive Time Of The Day

Finally, a justification to do a little less work.
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“222 Words” is a series that aims to give brief, 222-word explanations into the types of questions that would normally get lost in a day’s news cycle. These are intended to be read while you’re bored at work.


In 2016, a very unscientific survey commissioned by a company called Get More Vitamin Drinks declared that 2:22 p.m. is the precise time that workers think they’re the least productive.

Given the small sample size and the dubious company behind this survey, the result is essentially meaningless by itself. You probably don’t need to “get more vitamin drinks” at precisely 2:22 p.m. each day. Still, the early-afternoon drop in productivity is a real phenomenon that must be combatted.

“There is no one single ‘minute’ time point even within an individual ― more like a two- to three-hour window of time,” Fred W. Turek, the director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology at Northwestern University, wrote in an email to HuffPost, referring to the least productive time of day.

“What you are referring to is what is called ‘post-lunch dip’ ― which actually occurs even if you do not eat lunch,” Turek added. “Studies have shown a decrease in cognition, increase in fatigue over 24 hours ― with the big period occurring in the hours from about midnight to 6 a.m. ― but a secondary peak in the period coinciding from about 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.”

So take that extra-long midafternoon break. Your boss should understand that this is an uphill battle. Go do something productive, like take a nap.


For more on this subject ...

  • Turek wrote an article for Scientific American about our cellular clocks.

  • The New York Times detailed the many reasons why the post-lunch dip occurs.

  • CNN wrote about another rather unscientific study, which found 2:55 p.m. to be the least productive time of day. As mentioned above, the dip occurs over a range of times. The main focus was on 2:22 because “222” is a better name for a series than “255.” Now that’s scientifically sound.

  • The American Psychological Association looked into the benefits of an afternoon nap.

  • If you do need to try to push through the fatigue (who among us truly has such understanding bosses?), Livestrong has tips on combatting the drowsiness.

  • HuffPost Australia spoke to dietitians about the food-related causes of this phenomenon and have suggestions on how to diminish the effect.

  • But seriously, as The New Yorker argued in a short piece from 2015 ― don’t work so much!

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