The humble lunch hour…as soon as the clock strikes 12, there are nothing but empty desk chairs spinning all alone as their owners desert them. The queues in your local food spots triple in size, the supermarket meal deal gets all the attention and the battle for the office microwave begins.
How do you spend your lunch time? Do you embrace the full hour and have some ‘you time’ or do you eat at your desk? I’ve had a few people tell me that they simply get back to work after they’ve eaten because there’s nothing else to do!
Now, I don’t expect you to meticulously plan every single lunch hour a week in advance. However, it’s good to have an idea of what is around you so that the post lunch workday remains productive. I can’t be the only one who believes in the 3PM slump, right? Ultimately, we don’t want to tell you how to spend the hour – that’s down to you. These are simply tips to help you think about how to be mindful during the working week, when you think you might not have the time to do so.
The lunch time dilemma: what to eat?
This is often the thing people start thinking about at around 11AM (or 10AM if you’re me…) Here’s a quick challenge for you, without looking at Google Maps. How many food places around you can you name? This includes local supermarkets, food chains, coffee shops…basically anywhere that serves food! How many of the ones you have named have you visited recently?
Now, go on Google Maps and see how many other places there are that you didn’t know about. Or, if you’d rather just stumble across a new hidden gem, leave the office and use the time to walk around. You’ll get some much-needed fresh air, screen rest and you will find a lovely place to eat lunch. You could even do lunch every once in a while, with the entire team, making it a nice social outing for everyone.
Alternatively, how are your cooking skills? It’s totally understandable that, after a long day, you’ll want to have your dinner and leave it at that. However, cooking is actually a great way to unwind while trying some exciting new recipes. Even if you’re not a confident cook, you soon will be as you’re actively learning a new skill. You can prepare your lunches in advance, mix it up and maybe even save money doing so.
This might only apply in the summer months (when it’s not raining!) Saying that, even a winter walk can be pretty refreshing! Being outdoors and seeing the grass and the trees is naturally relaxing, while stimulating the mind at the same time.
There seems to be a reluctance to take the full hour lunch break, as if doing so would be frowned upon. If there are days where there’s a big project being worked on, of course you might take a shorter break. But this shouldn’t be a habit every day. On your next lunch hour, either before or after you’ve eaten, go for a nice walk. If you can, you could take your lunch with you and enjoy it on a nice day outdoors.
What are your hobbies?
I know what you’re thinking…an hour isn’t really a long time. However, it’s still time, right? What do you love that could easily fill the lunch hour? I know many people who will go for a run, a 30-minute work-out or even a yoga class.
Many places offer shorter sessions because they know people have less time during the lunch time rush. Have you ever looked into lunch time events in your area? You have one hour to concentrate on something other than work, so use it doing something you enjoy or exploring something new.
Tips to keep your mind off work
It’s easy to say how to spend your lunch hour, but does doing things differently keep your mind off work? Even during your work out or while you relax outside, you might be thinking about what the afternoon will bring. Here’s how to switch off…
- Don’t plan your afternoon until you’re back from your lunch hour. If you set your tasks before it, your mind will be focused on these throughout. Many people might plan the whole day at the start of the work day, but on days you want to use your lunch hour to its full potential, do your to-do list in two halves.
- Know what tasks are essential, and what tasks can be done later. With too much swimming through your mind, it will be hard to switch off. By dividing your workload effectively, you will cut down the panic of getting everything done that day. Remember, some things can wait.
- Let people know you’ll be unavailable for the hour. If you usually have a habit of not embracing your lunch hour, your colleagues will notice this and think it’s OK to approach you during the lunch break. It’s not their fault of course, but it’s time to let people know you won’t be reachable for the full hour. Don’t be afraid to do this…it might encourage your team to do the same, meaning there will be productivity all round!
- Avoid screens…unless you want to spend the hour catching up on that Netflix series! Using this time to keep away from the screens will really reinforce that this is your time to re-energise, so why not try it out?
How will you spend your next lunch hour?
As I said, this blog is simply to provide food for thought about how you’re spending your time. If you enjoy cracking on with work over the lunch period, that’s completely fine. However, we do recommend you give the tips above a go, even if it’s once a week!
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