SURVEY SAYS: How Do You Get a Second Wind?

September 9, 2010 ( - As nice as those (too) occasional three-day weekends are, it sure can be tough coming “back.”   

Of course, you don’t need a three-day weekend to have one of those days when it’s just harder than you’d like to get “started” – and this week I asked readers to share their “secrets”. 

Well, you might think the most obvious solution would be to grab a cup of “Joe” – but not for this week’s respondents!  Sure “caffeine” in the form of coffee was popular – 12.8% of this week’s respondents opted for that choice.  But, setting aside the flocking toward the “other” category, it still only came in third.

Instead, the most popular choice – and this MIGHT be generational – was caffeine in the form of a cola, which was cited by 15%.  The second-most popular choice was a healthy one – going for a brisk walk, which drew the support of nearly 14%.

All that notwithstanding, the most opted for response was “other” (33%), though much of what fell there was really a “more than one of the above.”  As one reader noted, “I don’t have a “usual” but it varies between going for a brisk walk, talking to a co-worker, or switching to a mindless activity such as filing and straightening up.”  

Or, as another said in a somewhat more “elaborative” fashion, “I really needed this to be a “more than one of the above” answer questions, because it all depends.  Sometimes I need to do the caffeine cola thing, sometimes the talk to co-workers thing, sometimes the go for a walk thing.  But slap myself?  Never.  Want to slap someone else?  Often.  Maybe daydream should have been an option……..”

We’ll come back to the “other” category in a minute, but before that, let’s run down the rest of the options:

8.5% - switch to working on something fun

6.4% - just wait for it to pass

4.3% - talk to friends/co-workers

3.2% - listen to music

2.1% - caffeine, tea

1.1% - caffeine, pills

Options that weren’t picked included splashing cold water on your face, exercise, slap yourself, or take a nap – but then, they showed up repeatedly in the “other” category (we’re getting to that).  If there was an option that I didn’t include, but should have (other than “more than one of the above”), it seems like it should have been “caffeine in the form of chocolate” – and perhaps…”shopping” (yes, that showed up a number of times, but with some interesting twists). 

"Other" Comments

Anyway, some of the other “other” responses here were:

Heart problems take caffeine off the table so I use juice, cold water, standing up while on phone, and then a brief walk to get the motor running.

Drinking orange juice in the morning and then a cold glass of water (or going for a walk to the cafe and back) in the late afternoon. 

Coffee with cream and sugar would be my first choice but a trip up and down the stairs (5 flights) usually works wonders. 

Wait for the day to end so I can go home 

I don't have a "usual" but it varies between going for a brisk walk, talking to a co-worker, or switching to a mindless activity such as filing and straightening up.

Crank some Foo Fighters or Green Day.

All of the above, depending on the day/situation.

Coffee, music and go for a walk, or at least stand up for awhile.

I make myself a "to-do" list before I leave for the holiday so I have a starting point to get going when I return.

Rock Star Energy Drink

Work on a task I have been putting off. Typically something I dislike doing, so once I finish it I feel good that it is over and I am back on track.

Eat candy

I leave what I'm working on at the time and turn my attention to some other task.

To restart my mojo, I read the motivational stories of other employees, most of whom came to the U.S. from other countries, about how they began their career, and how they continue their career, with my employer.  It always makes me feel good about my employer and my job.

At work I restart with caffeine and candy, but at home I totally go for the nap.  Love my naps alot more now then when I was suppose to take one when I was a kid.

More than one of the above....caffeine (coffee, tea - whatever works!), talk to friends/coworkers, go for a brisk walk...

Surf the net

I find chocolate is a great boost for that late afternoon sleepy time.

I find chocolate is a great boost for that late afternoon sleepy time.

Sometimes I talk a brisk walk to get a soda. That seems to work for a while at least! I might wish I could take a nap though.

Take a 5 to 10-minute walk around the office complex

Do something that requires me to get up and some filing, go to the printer, read/revise a document while standing at the work table...anything to get me up and out of my chair.

As a victim of a desk job, nothing beats an afternoon slump like getting up off my duff and just moving.  It's amazing what a 4-story jog down to (and back up from) the cafeteria to get a glass of water will do for body and soul!

"I stand at my desk instead of sitting and listen to some upbeat music"

Tim Hortons - Iced Capp, Caffe Mocha or Iced Mocha (depending on either my mood, or how warm or cold the office is that day)... 

Among my favorites were:

I'm VERY OLD SCHOOL; so this translates to the Get over it and get on with it ... mentality.  One just does what is expected of them - work, work, and then some more work.  That's all there is to it. And, incidentally, there are millions of like-minded [older, active and retired] workers out there.  Personally, I like the choice above of slap yourself ... because this generation needs to do more of that, especially in the workplace where one frequently witnesses such horrible non-existent work ethics that it could make an onion cry!  Is THAT what is wrong with American business, huh?

The most effective option would be to take a nap, but that's often not feasible, especially here at work. It's a shame because a short five or ten minute one would do the trick and make me much more productive for the whole afternoon. Without that nap, coffee becomes the best option.

Never before, until now. Folks, gimme y'er best option. I'll try 'em all. Whether you run, walk, swim or bike for exercise there's that horrible dead-zone where you're stuck between going-on and getting-off. I'm there, right smack dab in da' middle. That is, just a tad too soon to retire and a bit too late to start over (and finding out first hand the subtle reality of being the "over-experienced" candidate). Mentoring the newbies and bowing to the new kings has lost its gamesmenship attraction, but, just holding on 'til the finish is against my ethic. Guess, I'll go for a walk, listen to some exercise, slap cold water on coworkers, pass a cola, and then take a nap for fun. Nah, just kiddin' cuz I love this place. Really, I do. Really, you guys, I mean it. Really.

Safe-for-work yoga poses (no downward dog)

Surf the internet and buy stuff so I get motivated to get back to work and earn the moolah to keep up with my shopping.

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who observed, “When I have trouble getting started I find it very motivating to sit down and write out my monthly bills.  This has a surprising way of getting me back on track.”

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!

Editor’s Note:  Those looking for the bonus survey results – I thought I would run them tomorrow.