Dear Ed

Dear Ed,deared

I fall asleep at my desk at three o'clock every afternoon. Sometimes I even dribble down my shirt. What can I do?

Ian, South Meringue


Dear Ian

Three o'clock in the afternoon is the whole reason that desks have modesty boards in front of them. This allows them to double as power-napping stations, so that you can curl up and snooze in piece.

I always know when it's three o'clock because my fingers go dyslexic and start fraternising with the wrong keys, rendering words like 'students' as 'stud nets'. That's the kind of typo that can get you arrested.

But enough about me, let's get back to nodding and drooling. The short-term solution is to wear only white shirts. That way you can drool to your mouth's content and no-one will know (apart from you, when you wake up with a cold clammy shirt. Urrk.) But do steer your wardrobe away from fabrics that become transparent when wet, and do go out and buy several very large drums of Preen.

The long-term solutions are many and splendid. You can:

a. Avoid being at your desk at three o'clock in the afternoon. Just imagine if you could go home at three if you'd finished your day's work; everyone would suddenly have an incentive to work faster and you'd come back fresher the next day because you hadn't been trying to work through your low productivity point. File under 'Wishful thinking'.

b. Reserve afternoons for lighter tasks that don't require the mental equivalent of heavy lifting. Vary your tasks according to your concentration span, keeping the lightweight stuff for the afternoons.

c. Always keep a spare jacket and bag at work so that you can go home without anyone knowing. That way you can leave your computer on and exit the building. Anyone looking for you will see your computer on, your jacket or coat draped over the back of your chair and your bag by your desk. They won't see you sitting at home with your feet up, eating Tim Tams and watching TV.

Hope this helps,