The Biggest Myth of Office Life

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things to do during lunchI used to work through lunch all the time.

I’d have lunch sitting at my desk while staring at the computer or talking on the phone…often at the same time.

Every once in a while, I’d go out for lunch.

But honestly I’d be watching my phone for the red flash the entire time, and then be stressed about what I’d missed when I got back to the office.

Even when I traveled extensively in Mexico, the 2 hour lunches were like torture because I felt overwhelmed with what I was missing at the office and always thought of work just piling up.

When I was researched this problem I found this was a much bigger issue than I thought.

The statistics are alarming:

  • Your Lunch Hour is now a Big Myth — A study by fast food chain KFC corp. found that 60 percent of workers in corporate America actually considered the lunch hour “the biggest myth of office life.”
  • You’ve got less time for lunch — The traditional lunch “hour” has become the lunch “break.” Fifty-five percent of workers take a half hour or less for lunch.  According to a Steel Case Study.
  • You’ve given up on getting out of the office  – Many workplace experts suspect even those workers who are allotted a half hour for lunch, most employees often end up never leaving their desks.
  • You/We’re doing this to ourselves — Shorter lunches are attributed to changed work environment (35 percent), an increased pressure to perform (22 percent), and the desire to leave earlier at the end of the day (22 percent)….only 3 percent is attributed to the boss’ expectations.
  • You’re using lunch to do work you used to do “during work” — 21 percent of employees use the time for individual work because more time is now spent working in teams.

Stop Abusing Your Lunch Hour

It’s surprising how frequently executives go about abusing their lunch break; leaving it totally unplanned and just letting any meeting or request encroach upon this magic hour of the day.

Your lunch is one of the most underutilized hours of opportunity in your workday, and it’s time to take command.

Remember the last time you had a lunch break that was enjoyable and even memorable?

Have you even recently taken one?

You may see your lunch break as time for getting the “real” work done and maintaining your productivity superhero status at the office.

I sure did.

It seemed like if I worked through lunch by sitting at my desk I would get a head or at least be able to get home from work at a decent time but this rarely happened.

Every once in a while I would have a day where I was completely focused and extremely productive while having lunch at my desk.

But what I found after looking back over those days was that working through lunch at my desk and getting more done was a myth I’d bought into.

It’s time to start looking at your lunch break differently.

The Essential Lunch Hour Mindset Shift

Start by recognizing that lunch is your time.

Lunch time is that one hour per day sandwiched between everything else that you get to prioritize “you”.

You see in the mornings you’ve got family and work obligations, the afternoon is full of work, and night is usually dedicated to family or volunteer obligations.

Lunch time is your hour in control…if you seize it.

By making a few strategic lunch time tweaks, you can experience lunch the way of The Jedi:

  • Lunch can be the high point of your day
  • Doing lunch the “right way” gives you something to look forward to when you set foot in the office door.
  • Lunch breaks can actually fuel your motivation to the end of the day and help you overcome the afternoon energy dip.

5 Things to Do that will Revolutionize Your Lunch Hour

To show you how to get the most out of your lunch hour, I’m sharing a few key tips that I’ve implemented and have also been helpful for my clients.

1. Stop Considering Your Lunch Hour as “Free Time”

Prioritize your lunch break and don’t consider it free time.

Your lunch hour is a non-renewable, precious resource.

By planning this time each day, you’ll feel better about it and focus in on what can make it most helpful.

2. Your Lunch Hour is for Things You Can’t Do at Home

To line up what you’ll do during your lunch hour, start with those things you don’t have time for at home in the mornings or in the afternoons.

For example, I often host the Weekly Spark during lunch (and not at night) because I recognize that a lot of people have family obligations or other activities planned in the evenings..

So start with thinking about what you don’t have time for in the evenings like reading a book, working out, or catching up with friends, bring and that into your lunch hour.

3. Avoid Relaxation.  Focus on the Right Activities to do during Lunch

Focus on activities that energizes you.

It seems like many people believer that lunches are for relaxing, but I find that it’s more helpful to pick an activity that gets the juices flowing and helps me get through the afternoon energy slump.

For me, getting outside and getting a dose of sunshine or speaking to a group really energizes the rest of my work day.

4. Actually Eat!

You may chuckle at this, but you can actually revolutionize your lunch break by eating.

This may seem obvious but some many people skip eating during lunch.

You may have meetings that keep you from eating but this usually catches up with you by the end of day.  Look ahead on your calendar and if you do get back-to-back meeting during lunch, suggest ordering food to the meeting organizer, having the meeting in a restaurant, or at least starting 15 minutes later so you can grab something quickly.

5. Avoid Screens

The last tip that I want to offer here is something that might be a little bit controversial for a lot of people.  Try avoiding all screens during lunch.  It seems like screens are everywhere, so it helps to say simply “no screens” to avoid the temptation.

And that means computer screens, phone screens, and especially TV screens. Just avoiding screens during lunch can really give your eyes a break, clear your head, and help your return to work refreshed.

I hope these tips help you re-imagine what your lunch hour can be.

Pick one of the tips above for your lunch today, and see what an impact it makes on your work day.

Ben

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