Back in the day, lunch hour was just that: A full hour. Well, if you find yourself glancing at the clock when it strikes 1:55 p.m. only to realize your company’s cafeteria closes in five minutes as you run down there to scarf down your lunch, you’re not alone.
When was the last time you took a full hour for lunch? When was the last time you ate at a location other than your desk as you had your sandwich in your left hand and mouse in your right?
According to a piece on Forbes, there are several ways to spend your lunch time.
1. Take a real break. As in not sitting at your desk or thinking, talking or breathing about work. This may include even leaving your mobile phone at your desk while you jet outside to get a breath of fresh air and pick up a bowl of soup.
As for how to take a real break if you’re out with your boss, well, that’s easier said and done. However, if you’re with colleagues and you grab a bite to eat, if someone starts talking about work you may choose to be frank about it and say something lighthearted like, “This is like a little break from the office, let’s keep it there since the work will be waiting for us when we get back.”
2. Eat. How essential does this sound but how many times have you squandered lunch time to run to the bank or get errands done and forget the main purpose is to refuel your body? This includes eating a healthy meal, chewing every bite, and not rushing to get it over with so you can scurry back to answering your overflowing in-box. Eat with dignity and savor every bite.
3. Walk away from your work space. Staying at your desk will feel like you’re chained to it and will feel like you never really got a lunch break in the first place. And let’s not even begin to talk about the co-workers who will see you chomping away and interrupt you to ask a “quick question.” You’re too accessible to work while you’re at your desk during the lunch time you’re entitled to. If the day is incredibly busy and you can’t simply seem to tear away, give yourself a “treat” and promise you’ll go for a walk or drive for about 20 minutes. Even 10 or 20 minutes will do you some good.
4. Mix it up; don’t get stuck in a routine. Maybe you go to the same deli every single day or brown bag it all of the time. Why not mix it up to boost your energy? Vary your tasks and group them so you’re not doing errands every day of the week during lunch time. Perhaps one day you can do errands, another day make some personal calls and yet another go for a brisk walk.
5. Network. If you don’t have time during the day to take personal time for a networking informational meeting, no worries there. Why not leverage your lunch time to network via the phone or connect on LinkedIn? It may be as simple as grabbing lunch in the company cafeteria with a colleague in another department to pick their brain about what they do, how their department is run, and ultimately get your foot in the door.