We’ve all heard it, and perhaps even said it, “I wish there were more hours in the day.” Eight hours (or more) to work, eight more (ideally) to sleep, throw in some coming and going, and time becomes a precious commodity. Alas, right there in the middle of the day sits a perfectly good chunk of time called ‘lunch break’. How can you ensure that you’re lunch breaking right? Consider the following ideas and advice.
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first, you’ve got to eat something. Preferably something that will recharge the body and mind. Delaying, or eliminating, lunch does nobody a favour, not you, nor your boss, nor clients. Failure to eat means you’ll spend the afternoon in a depleted state, which will hamper, not help, productivity.
2. Take a True Break
All work, no play makes Jack a dull boy. That’s why it’s often best to take a true lunch break. Leave the office. Put your screens away. Read a book. Write a song. Watch a busker perform. Get your nails done. Stare at the sky and ponder the purpose of life. Not only will this short break from reality be good for your soul, it will help you tackle the afternoon with renewed focus and vigor.
Not everyone can turn their work brain off. How about using your lunch break to think of the big-picture? Plan your afternoon, make to-do lists, organize files. We’re often so busy with moment to moment tasks that we can’t see the forest for the trees. Successful people are usually the ones who make the time to ensure they’re organized.
4. Personal Productivity
You’ll need a haircut sooner or later, right? And those bills aren’t gonna pay themselves. OK, maybe you have automatic withdrawals, but the point remains, life is full of tasks. Something accomplished at lunch hour is something that doesn’t have to be done later in the evening, when your brain longs for rest, relaxation or recreation.
Have lunch with a co-worker from another department. You never know what you might learn. Maybe you could even convince your company to support this as a program, and get a free lunch out of it! For a more social experience, join a lunch network instead and meet people who can help you in your career.
6. Professional Development and Learning
This goes hand in hand with the networking. Piece together a resume or portfolio and search for a better job. Plug away at a side hustle. Better yet, use your lunch break to take an online course or study a new language. Scientific studiesindicate that midday is one of the best windows for learning and retaining information. A few years down the road you might just find yourself living the life you dreamed of. A life that you built one lunch break at a time!
7. Lunch with a Plan
Part of relaxing during lunch is being able to stop thinking about work for a few minutes. In order to do this, you’ll need peace of mind that Armageddon won’t strike in your absence. Set up a chain of command so that a co-worker can have your back covered while you’re out. Make yourself reachable in an emergency (and define what constitutes an emergency.) Whenever possible, avoid scheduling important meetings or phone calls immediately after lunch. This will allow you to truly relax during this critical period of rejuvenation.
Some light exercise can help refresh the body and mind, making you more productive all afternoon. Some people prefer a more intense workout to fire them up for the latter half of the workday. Whether pumping iron or lightly strolling, physical activity has many benefits, not the least of which being a renewed focus and sense of well-being as the day goes on.
No really! Sleep can be at a premium, especially for new parents. If you’re lucky enough to have a workspace that allows for it, a 20-minute midday siesta can make for a more productive you all afternoon long.
10. Work on Personal Relationships
Have lunch with a friend that you miss, or call a loved one that you don’t get to see as often as you would like. If you prefer to eat alone, use the time to plan a family activity or a nice surprise for your partner.
Life is busy and every workplace is different. Some of the above recommendations may suit you perfectly, while others may seem impractical. The important thing is to prioritize a small portion of our day to focus on the things that can otherwise go neglected. By looking at lunch break as not just a three-minute window to scarf down leftovers, but as a gift to be appreciated, we may surprise ourselves with what can be accomplished.