In our always-on-at-all-costs corporate culture, we often find it difficult to justify taking a few minutes of time for ourselves, let alone a whole lunch hour during the day. But this style of working isn’t just hard to maintain; it can actually be a detriment to our careers.
Taking periodic breaks helps maximize productivity and is critical to your mental, physical, and emotional health. But it isn’t always enough to just take a break. What you do during those breaks can be just as important to your professional success. The following are 10 ways successful people use their lunch hours to improve their careers:
Skipping a meal will do your work no favors. In fact, your eating habits decide your productivity level for the rest of the day. Successful people take the time to eat the right foods at the right amounts each day. Make a concerted effort to not only take a lunch, but also eat a healthy meal.
Lunchtime is already one of the least productive times of the day — for most people, that is. In order to be more productive, get in a short workout before you grab a quick bite. Studies show that exercise can sharpen mental performance, improve time-management skills, and increase job satisfaction.
You’re already taking a break, so why not take it with another person? That way, you get a chance to eat while getting to know colleagues, supervisors, or other people in your industry better. After all, it’s not what you know but who — and these lunches could prove beneficial later in your career.
Keeping in touch with former colleagues and acquaintances is part of building a strong, reliable network. Shoot off a few quick emails during your lunch break (or a 15-minute break, at that) to stay top of mind. You never know when that next big career opportunity will pop up.
There isn’t a better time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished than midday. Even just a few minutes spent evaluating your progress on a project can be enough to hit that reset button and recharge your energy as you head into the second part of your day.
Have a book sitting on the nightstand, just waiting to be finished? Some successful people will use their lunch time to catch up on reading, and it doesn’t need to be only for professional development. Flip through a newspaper, blog posts, or even some fluff. The mere act of reading offers a mental break from your work.
7. Run errands
At best, eating lunch takes about 20 minutes, leaving you plenty of time to run errands you wouldn’t otherwise be able to take care of during the day. It’s also the perfect opportunity to catch up on personal calls, schedule appointments, and anything else on your to-do list.
You have some time at your disposal, so use it to plan the rest of your day — or, go one step further, and plan the next step in your career. Grab a pad of paper, and find a quiet place to journal. Then, reflect (there’s that word again) on what you’d need to do to move your ideas forward.
Take a real break from the workday by stepping away from the computer and shutting off your electronics. Rarely do we take the time to enjoy some real peace and quiet during the day.
Napping is like taking unplugging to the next degree. Head out to the car and catch just 20 minutes of shut-eye to recharge. One study showed that a 26-minute nap could improve alertness by 54 percent and bolster performance by 34 percent.
If you’d like additional advice or want to learn more about how our team can help you advance your career, please contact us today. We’d be more than happy to schedule a time to discuss your professional aspirations and career goals.