How to Make the Most of Your Lunch Break

How to make the most of your lunch break

In today's audio postcard I share some tips for making the most of your lunch break. 

Today's question: Which one of these tips will you try, to make the most out of your lunch break?

Leave a comment and share your ideas!

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Are you taking advantage of your lunch break? I’m betting you’re like most people and you’re not.

Your lunch break is one of the easiest ways to squeeze in some time for yourself on a regular basis. But it’s also just as easy to throw away that opportunity and instead, cram in more work or cross a few more things off your to-do list.

I’m here today to encourage you to resist that urge! Because I know it’s a strong one.

But here’s the thing, taking a break during your work day will help you perform better at work and do your job more efficiently. And for those of you that are incredibly busy, and my guess is that most of you are, who of you wouldn’t want to get more done in less time?

Instead of feeling guilty about abandoning the stack of work on your desk, try to remember that giving yourself a break from your work is actually part of doing your job well.

To help encourage you to make the most of your lunch break, I have 5 handy tips to share with you.

1. Leave the office on your lunch break.

This one is crucial! Because taking your lunch break at your desk doesn’t really do it when it comes to taking a break from work.

Mostly because it is way to easy to get sucked back into doing work if you are at your desk. And there’s something beneficial about actually leaving the physical space where you do your work, that allows your brain to switch out of work mode and relax.  

And it’s important for you brain to take an actual break from work so that you can maintain your focus and energy all day. Leaving your work space and changing the scenery is one of the most beneficial ways to do just that.

Now, I realize that it isn’t always possible to leave your work space for lunch 100% of the time. But as often as you can (and keep in mind this is probably more possible than you think), leave your desk, leave your office, and get out of the building.

I promise it will make it much easier to be productive when you return.

2. Have a plan.

In just the same way that you schedule and plan your work so you can maximize your time and get a lot done, planning your lunch hour relaxation time will enhance your experience. It’s surprising how much amazingness you can soak up in one hour during your lunch break when you actually plan ahead.

The trap that many people fall into is to wait until noon rolls around to start figuring out what they’re going to do on their lunch hour. And then, what ends up happening is, the time you could have been spending taking a break gets completely squandered as you scramble trying to decide in the moment what you want to do.

The good news is, it’s a trap that’s easily avoided if you decide how you want to spend your lunch break beforehand.

By planning ahead you’ll avoid that last-minute scramble of trying to figure out how you’d like to spend your lunch hour and you get the extra bonus of looking forward to spending time on yourself. 

In the middle of a hectic morning, it’s always nice to have a little treat to look forward to later on in the day.

Try sitting down in the morning before your work day starts and working out what you’d like to do that day during your lunch hour. Or if it makes things easier, plan out a week’s worth of lunch hours on Sunday so you know what the plan is for the whole week.

Making a plan can be especially helpful if you have a busy week ahead, which is when you need breaks the most!

3. Have fun and play.

You’ve probably heard me say this before, but I’ll say it again for emphasis. Play and fun aren’t just for kids!

Start thinking about the things you have the most fun doing and see if there’s a way to make time for those activities during your lunch hour.

Grab your work bestie and head to a nearby park for a game of catch. Make a lunch date with a friend and go to that new Thai place you’ve both been dying to try.

Your break time will be so much more beneficial for you if you spend your hour enjoying yourself and having a good time. If you’re looking for inspiration, get curious about how can you use your lunch break time to explore or have a mini-adventure.

Allow your imagination and creativity to guide you as you’re brainstorming ideas.

4. Take time to rest and relax.

Who says you can’t get a little R and R in the middle of your work day? Because if you’re anything like me, some days what you’re really craving by the middle of your work day is some serious downtime. An opportunity to wind down and let your busy brain chill out, even just for a little bit.

An hour – heck even half an hour - is more than enough time for your brain and body to relax and unwind a bit. Go for a walk outside and get some sunshine and fresh air. Or find a quiet spot to meditate or read a novel.

It’s amazing how far a little peace and quiet will go.

It will help you come back to your work with a clearer head. Which means you’ll be able to focus on your work, get it done and get out of the office earlier instead of staring blankly at the screen all afternoon struggling to concentrate.

5. Make it a habit (and be vigilant).

Ever notice how easy it is to come up with all sorts of reasons why you just “have to” work through lunch – why you can’t manage to spare the hour? In fact, you’re probably convinced that you don’t actually have a choice in the matter and it’s simply out of your hands.

But you can choose to make this hour all yours on a regular basis. The most effective way to make that happen is to turn it into a habit.

The first step to make taking your lunch hour a regular thing will be to guard and protect this time fiercely, like a mama bear protecting her cubs. Make your lunch hour break time non-negotiable, sacred time that’s just for you.

This means it’ll be important to shift your mindset a bit and work on letting go of all the reasons why you should skip out on taking a break. And it may also require setting some boundaries, like resisting the urge to say “yes” to extra work and obligations that will interfere with your lunch hour.

With a little practice, taking your lunch break – so that you can have some time to yourself - will become a habit just like brushing your teeth. You won’t even think about it, it’ll just happen.