Is the cycle of waking, working, sleeping starting to get to you? Do you struggle to keep up with all of your interests and errands each week while also giving yourself room to breathe?
Don’t despair. You have an important tool that can be used to leverage your time and enable you to do more with what you have: the lunch hour.
While it can be tempting to use this time for more work, there is a lot to be said for making it productive “me time,” a time to take control and invest in your own self. Break the pattern of exhaustion and do more with what you have by maximizing your lunch hour.
To get you started on the path to a better personal and professional life, here are our top picks for ways to make the most of your lunch hour.
Take a walk
While you won’t build 6-pack abs with a 15-minute lunch time walk, you will get help clearing your mind and reducing the risk of several stress-related illnesses. There is even evidence that walking as little as two-minutes out of every hour can increase your lifespan.
Start a lunch club in your law firm at the end of your lunch hour to get moving after eating and make the most of that time.
With multiple studies showing the stress and anxiety-reducing benefits of meditation, it makes sense to meditate where you may feel these things the most: the office.
Typically, meditation involves a quiet room with no glass for others to look in on you. This can be difficult to find in many offices, but an empty meeting room is often a good option. And booking it during lunch means you have less chance of being disturbed.
Alternately, you can try walking meditation, which—unlike walking for exercise—is best when done slowly.
If you’re on top of knowing which clients are allergic to shellfish and who takes their coffee black, but have forgotten to get milk for your own fridge the last three times you were at the store, you may benefit from using your lunch break to get organized.
Take this time to:
- Plan meals
- Write to-do lists
- Organize your desk or office
- Prioritize what you need to do for the rest of the day or week
There are lots of ways to organize your life in lists. You can create a bullet journal, use list-making apps, or even get out pencil and paper.
Go off grid…mostly
While it’s not recommended to be completely unreachable during the workday, you can use your lunchtime to get a much-needed break from your computer and phone screens. This will help to reduce eye strain and provide other benefits of putting your phone down.
Get away from your desk for at least part of your lunchtime, and let others know how to reach you in case of emergency. Up your game by leaving your phone behind, or leaving it on silent in your pocket or purse, at least for a little while.
Join a lunch network
Taking time out to enjoy lunch with someone else serves several purposes. Along with getting you out of the office, you’ll also have a chance to network, make friends, and hone your social skills.
While going out with a coworker can be good, you can easily expand your horizons with lunch networks, including:
- Let’s Lunch: This free app uses your LinkedIn profile to connect you with interesting social and professional persons in your area.
- GetLunched.com: Similar to Let’s Lunch, this app lets you extend personalized invitations to others.
Call a Friend
Do you have that one friend who always seems to make you feel better? When’s the last time you talked to them?
While a phone call might not be as good as seeing that someone in person, it is a significant upgrade to half-hearted text conversations promising to “get together soon.”
Take this time to vent, talk about your day or discuss your upcoming plans. You’ll both benefit from having the chance to talk with someone who you know cares.
It might sound impossible some days, but you really should consider eating lunch during lunch. Shoving a granola bar in your mouth with one hand while you continue to answer emails with other doesn’t count!
Instead of this mindless chewing, plan your lunch. Pack nutritious things and give yourself time to eat and enjoy them.
Not only will this give your mind a break, it will prevent the issues caused by poor eating, i.e. sugar crashes and overeating later after skipping a meal.
What’s your go-to way to maximize your lunch hour? Let us know in the comments.