The Wasting Hours

on May 15, 2012 in AnnieWrites with 23 comments by

For the last few weeks, I’ve been calling these “the witching hours” until today when I actually went and read the definition of “witching hour” and yikes.

So these hours shall henceforth be known at The Wasting Hours.

. . . . .

It seems, that in my new full-time job as an author, I have fallen headfirst into a pretty regular schedule, for better or for worse. It goes a little something like this:

7am: attempt to wake up, think about waking up, realize that there are authors all over this globe that wake up and write genius pieces of literature in the early morning hours, then realize that my alarm isn’t screaming at me anymore.

7:30am — “Seriously, Downs. Move it.” And I shower, get ready, dilly-dally, etc.

morning — Working. Seriously. These morning hours are my jam. Super productive, flying through work, writing stuff about stuff. Listening to classical music.

Also, I tend to have biz meetings in this window. I’m the best biz-Annie at this time, so I can yell “BUY! SELL! BUY!” and “I WON’T SETTLE FOR LESS THAN A MILLION!” and “THAT GRANOLA IS DELICIOUS!” with gusto.

12pm — Honestly, I usually have lunch with friends. Or a friend. Or I make friends with people sitting near me wherever I am eating lunch.

1pm – 2:01pm — Finish my Living Social writing that is due everyday at 2pm. [I write the content on the deals for Atlanta and a few other rando cities around the USA.]

2:02pm-5pmΒ — The Wasting Hours.

5pm-7pm — Hard-working time again. Usually while listening to music with words, I bust through emails, blog posts, and get some writing done.

Then it’s dinner and friends and social life until 10ish, when it is back to writing [if I have more to finish] or to reading before bed.

. . . . .

But those Wasting Hours. Man. I don’t know what happens to me. Is this normal? Having a mid-afternoon slump like this? Maybe it is because I used to teach school and we’ve been trained since we were five years old to work from 7am – 2pm [school hours] then rest?

The Wasting Hours always sneak up on me. I will be working on something and then slowly my brain starts to drag. I start clicking from one social media site to another and not really be getting anything accomplished. I look up at my computer clock and it almost always says something in the 2 o’clock hour.

It’s like, ahem, well, clockwork.

Here are some things I end up doing during The Wasting Hours:

  • Nap. Especially if I am going to working late that night, a nap is just what the imaginary doctor ordered.
  • Eat a bowl of cereal. Multi-grain cheerios, please.
  • Walk outside. Even if I just go check the mail [which I actually have a PO Box, so this is never my mail], I feel like I’m not wasting my life. You know, during The Wasting Hours.
  • Read blogs. This is a great time for me to read other blogs and comment.
  • Get lost in the basement of the internet. Tell me you don’t, but I won’t believe you.
  • Feel like I’m throwing away my career because I cannot for the life of me get focused.

. . . . .

Am I a total freak for having The Wasting Hours? Am I a total idiot for thinking I’m the only one who has The Wasting Hours? Does anybody else deal with this? What do you do to get out of your slump?

Teach me your ways, effective afternooners.


  1. Patricia
    posted on May 15, 2012 at 7:23 AM  |  reply

    My understanding is that the afternoon slump is pretty common. And, from my perspective, your schedule makes a lot of sense: You wake up at a regular time, eat at regular times, and give your mind opportunities to rest in between stretches of focused work. Also keep in mind that, working at home, you don’t lose time commuting. And, even though you take off during your afternoon slump, you work every evening after dinner. Seems to me like you’ve put together a schedule that really works with your body’s rhythms and supports you in being productive when you are at your best. How wonderful! πŸ™‚

  2. posted on May 15, 2012 at 7:40 AM  |  reply

    I have this problem too, which is unfortunate since I have an 8:30-5:00 job, so even though my brain wants to take a break for the last 3 hours of the workday, I don’t think my boss would approve. πŸ™‚

    I agree with Patricia and think your schedule sounds best for you. You do a lot of work after those wasting hours, so I think if it works for you, stick with it!

    • Patricia
      posted on May 15, 2012 at 8:22 AM  |  reply

      “…I don’t think my boss would approve.”
      LOL! I thought about that, too–just how many people need a break that time of day, but their bosses would never go for it!

  3. Kristinia
    posted on May 15, 2012 at 7:43 AM  |  reply

    Its a common thing Annie!! at my work place we call is the “market meltdown” (I work for an investment firm) and it just seems like times slows down and you need to slow down too. I always have to get up and walk around the offie for a bit to re-focus. Your normal girl!!!

  4. posted on May 15, 2012 at 7:56 AM  |  reply

    When I worked in an office, 2 pm to 5 pm were the LONGEST hours of the day. It felt like 6 hours instead of 3.

    I think going outside during this time is a great idea. Maybe use this time to run errands or exercise. Go to a coffee shop or somewhere that has outdoor seating. Give yourself a break, because you are putting a lot of hours in, more so than in a traditional 9 to 5 job.

    Also, I quit using “rule of thumb” when I found out its origin. πŸ™‚

  5. posted on May 15, 2012 at 8:01 AM  |  reply

    I have a 7-5 job but yes around 2 everyday I seem to drag and want a nap and all of that so I think it has to be totally normal.

  6. Kim
    posted on May 15, 2012 at 8:38 AM  |  reply

    The afternoon slump is both physiological (that’s a fancy dietitian word for you Downs) and habit. The cheerios are a good step toward fixing the physiological part. The habit is more difficult to change so plan the time…anything that has a plan becomes more productive (ie. Nap 2-3 Correspondence 3-4 Internet research 4-5.) When you stick to the plan you can ditch the guilt. It’s hard being a grown up.

  7. posted on May 15, 2012 at 8:45 AM  |  reply

    You most definitely are not alone. I’m a morning person (a majority of the time) and when 2:15 hits I know it’s time to get up and visit the trusty Circle K across the street for some caffeine and fresh air. I save the mundane tasks for that part of my work day, like filing or sorting so I can give the brain a rest from the other tasks I get done on a sharp mind (like right now).

  8. posted on May 15, 2012 at 8:48 AM  |  reply

    I think the afternoon slump is completely normal. This is why many countries have siestas. This is why I keep trying (unsuccessfully) to get a siesta time instituted at my office. I say, you just tell people you’re on more of an international schedule.

  9. Brynn Morseman
    posted on May 15, 2012 at 10:09 AM  |  reply

    Oh Annie, I love this post. I’m a stay at home mom (work at home? I have a part time job with the church… but still always consider myself “stay at home”) and I hit a slump every. day. For me, it’s usually during the kids nap time, and I find myself sitting there thinking “There’s so much I could be doing right now. Why am I just sitting here? I bet everyone else stays so productive all day, and here I am “wasting hours”….” So yay! I’m not alone! And hey, neither are you! Still would love to kick the habit though. πŸ˜‰

  10. Betsy
    posted on May 15, 2012 at 10:19 AM  |  reply

    Love you blog, and so excited to read that you write copy for some of the Living social deals. I LOVE reading them, even if I don’t buy them. So hilarious. You go girl!

  11. merideth
    posted on May 15, 2012 at 11:36 AM  |  reply

    I know all about the wasting hours Annie. For me it’s from 3-6 on weekdays. I am not one to give advice on this, though, because I usually do random stuff)including watching t.v.). I am on the computer a good bit, and after several hours in a row my brain feels like it goes into a fog. So, I have to let myself take a break. I tend to think, during those wasting hours, how everyone else in the world is probably so much more productive than I am. But, after reading your post, and people’s responses, I guess that’s not the case. Makes me feel like I really am normal! Maybe. Either that or we are all crazy. I think you have a good schedule going.

  12. Katie
    posted on May 15, 2012 at 12:25 PM  |  reply

    So, I heard a quote somewhere that said taking 5 mins to veg out for every hour you work will make you more productive. This being said, I feel like your wasting hours are just your 5 mins all bundled together. Therefore, you are actually more productive by taking this much needed break. πŸ™‚

  13. posted on May 15, 2012 at 2:24 PM  |  reply

    My wasting hours are from 1:00-3:00. Sometimes I fall asleep, but, mostly I stare at my blank blog page and wonder why I even bother having one! Then I go into panic, guilty mode and start counting down the minutes until my princess and 3 jesters get home from school and how my “me” time is soon to be over!

  14. posted on May 15, 2012 at 2:25 PM  |  reply

    Ah mornings are the best for work! Your schedule sounds awesome to me!

  15. posted on May 15, 2012 at 3:07 PM  |  reply

    I am commenting on your blog at 3:07pm on Tuesday. Does that answer your question?

    I’m glad to know that it’s not just me πŸ™‚

  16. posted on May 15, 2012 at 3:09 PM  |  reply

    I have wasting hours too, right before the kids get home from school I will just veg on the couch. But I’ve come to believe I wouldn’t survive without this down time. My mind and body need it. I’m a morning person, so super productive before 1:00 and then crash until 3:00.
    Think of it as refresh time or call it your long coffee break. I bet your evening productive time would go away if you forced yourself to work between 2 and 5.

  17. posted on May 15, 2012 at 3:22 PM  |  reply

    Yeah I pretty much find that from 2-5 I have a difficult time focusing on work. I work a 9-5 in an office so this can prove to be frustrating in the way of productivity but I try to get up from my desk during this time to do other things around my office to help with it. I find that if I am not “chained” to my desk during these hours I am not apt to “putz” around online. Although, there are days like today where I was out of the office for a 45 minute period and when I came back I was able to focus for a bit and now I’ve lost it.

  18. posted on May 15, 2012 at 4:12 PM  |  reply

    Michael Hyatt takes a nap every day after lunch — he’s my hero.

  19. posted on May 15, 2012 at 7:57 PM  |  reply

    Embrace the afternoon nap!!
    I was doing lots of reading earlier today. Around 1:25 my eyes desperately wanted to close. So I set my alarm for one hour and totally passed out. After waking up, I pounded out a lot of required writing. Therefore, I am a firm believer in the afternoon rest. I dare not call it a slump. It’s like my body preparing to be its awesomest for the rest of the day! πŸ™‚

  20. posted on May 20, 2012 at 2:35 PM  |  reply

    me, too! i am not an afternoon girl.

    having a deadline helps me (i’m a student, so sometimes i can talk myself into working for an hour and being productive before my next class). sometimes i nap. sometimes i walk. mostly i drink coffee.

    i also think it’s part of life’s rhythm and the need for Sabbath/ rest throughout the week. me, personally? i’d like to move to a culture that celebrates siesta.

  21. posted on May 21, 2012 at 8:16 PM  |  reply

    I’m right there with you. Except my nap tends to either last WAY too long or I wake up super cranky.

  22. posted on May 25, 2012 at 12:18 PM  |  reply

    I totally get this! Except my wasting hours are in the morning, as I draaaag myself out of bed, force myself into the rest of the house, plop on the couch, convince myself to take a shower… And on and on! And I don’t know how to snap out of it, and I really, really want to figure it out!

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