So you want to use your lunchtime more efficiently or productively. If you’re reading this during lunch, you’re already doing it wrong. Or, you may be doing it right. It really depends, since lunchtime is your time, and you’re really the only one who can assess what you need to do in your day.
Step 1: Identify your needs/wants
Do you have a ton of work to get through? Or perhaps a million errands you need to run before rushing home to your children in the evening? Maybe you want (need) to work off that grand Thanksgiving meal or read what happens next in the novel that has been keeping your mind off work all morning.
Knowing what you want to do is the first hurdle. If you’re overworked, you obviously don’t want to keep working and could probably take a break from the office. Conversely, putting in an hour to clear out small tasks in preparation for a vacation also makes for a productive lunch.
Step 2: Decide what to do
As an intelligent, sentient being, you probably already know the obvious activities you could be doing during your lunch (i.e.: skip eating, eat, work while eating, browse the internet, etc.). Here are some uncommon activities that can lead to a more productive lunch (depending, of course, on what you need/want to do).
- Three-martini lunch. This will sound familiar if you’re a fan of Mad Men. The three-martini lunch was once a staple of executives who would talk business over a pricey lunch served with (multiple) alcoholic beverages. So if you need to step away from the office and spoil yourself with alcohol and amuse-bouches that cost a third of your paycheck, this might be the activity for you.
Nap. Countless studies have shown that naps are excellent people-rechargers. Taking a nap during your lunch break may lead to a more productive day overall. This Lifehacker article describes how different nap lengths can achieve various benefits. Just be sure to avoid the sleep inertia!
- The Spanish Siesta. Originating in Spain and popular in warmer climates, a siesta combines the best of basic human needs: food and sleep. The siesta is the bigger, slower and greedier older brother of the nap. It consists of a heavy midday meal followed by a nap that can last as long as a couple hours. Sure, it might take a big chunk of daylight out of your day, but I think we can all agree that it just sounds heavenly.
(Of course Spain did just experience a five-year financial crisis that included an unemployment rate that approached 30%. So, there’s that…)
- Buy your groceries. If your office has a fridge, getting groceries is an enormous time saver that frees up a lot of weekend time and also helps avoid the rush hour after work.
- Work out. Chair yoga isn’t enough to get your blood moving? Try signing up for actual yoga. Like napping, studies have proven that working out is great for the body AND mind. You’ll return to the office more invigorated and be more energized for the rest of the day. (And if you aren’t able to shower after your work out, you get the added benefit of not being invited to long meetings that eat up half your day. Another example of how a productive lunch can lead to a more productive day!)
Step 3: Assess at the end of the day
How did it go? Do you feel good about what you accomplished during the day? If yes, did whatever you do during your lunch contribute to that? If you answered yes again, congratulations on your productive lunch!