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"That was a productive lunch...interesting. I should do this more often"

Redeem Your Lunch Hour

July 28, 2015

At some point during your work day (especially if you’re in a more traditional 9-to-5 setting), you’re going to take a break to eat. You have this chunk of time in the middle of your day called “lunch hour”… so how can you make the most of it? Sure, you need to eat. That’s a given. But that lunch hour can be used for so much more too.

Use your lunch hour for networking. There is no better way to make connections that could help you in either your current career or the career you hope to have. Use your lunch hour to have a networking meeting and start building those relationships in a casual and relaxed setting. Nicole, a hiring expert from ManpowerGroup, says: “Most professionals would be happy to sit down with you. You should be ready to pick up the bill though as that would be the proper etiquette for this type of situation. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many people will be open to helping you if you are upfront about your need and intentions.”

Create space to take a break and relax. Not every lunch hour needs to be full of meetings—sometimes, you need to just step away to recharge before getting back to work. That’s okay! Cassandra, a hiring expert from Verizon, addresses this: “Many of us work in high stress, high volume roles that require a great deal from us personally and every now and then a break is needed during the course of the day.”

Take time for personal reflection. It can be easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of a busy work week. Take a few minutes during your lunch hour to make note of any successes or wins you’ve had lately, any progress you’ve made, and any areas you think you can improve. Write them down in a journal or in a note on your phone so you can revisit them and see how far you’ve come.

Get a change of scenery. Sitting at your desk for eight hours or staying at your same station for an entire work day is not ideal. Make an effort to get up and move during your lunch hour, even if it’s just for a quick lap around the parking lot or your building. “If you’re talking about a professional job in an office environment then breaks can be looked upon as being critical to optimum productivity, as long as they’re not excessive,” Stephanie from AT&T says. “For example, staring at a computer screen non-stop for an entire 8-hour work day is generally seen as being unhealthy and bad for productivity.” Stretch those legs, get some fresh air, and get the blood flowing so you can continue the rest of your workday well.

Exercise your mental muscles. Your lunch hour is a great time to work on your personal growth and development! Listen to a podcast while you’re eating, read a chapter of a book related to your personal or professional interests, read the latest Fast Company articles, or catch up on the latest news headlines. Remember to adhere to your company’s guidelines on what’s allowed and acceptable in the workplace. If browsing online or streaming podcasts isn’t okay, try taking your lunch to a local restaurant, park, or coffee shop periodically.

Your lunch hour can be used for so much more than just chowing down—fuel your body, your mind, and your relationships and your whole workday will improve.

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