lunch break

Many successful and motivated business people get where they are today by working hard during times when others would not have the energy to do so.  This may include working longer hours, on weekends, and through lunch.   While working hard for a little while can get you further, you also need to watch out for burn out.  This is why taking a real lunch break at least 3 times a week can help your career in 5 ways

  1. Help You Recharge – You may not be as productive if you always work through lunch.  Your brain needs a break so it can be fully productive in the afternoon.  It can also help you avoid burn out. 
  2. Make You Smarter  – Sometimes you can solve a tough problem faster by walking away from it for awhile.  We can all get a little near-sighted if we struggle with a problem too long with no solution.  Allowing yourself to take a lunch break and think about some trivial matters like what sandwich you want to order may just help your mind think of a new solution when you come back to work
  3. Enable you to network – Networking with colleagues at work can get you further in your company as subconsciously people like to help and promote they like personally.  Networking outside your company can expand your connections for future jobs.
  4. Enable new learning –  To excel in your career, you have to do your job well and also improve your skills over time.  Take a class during lunch or attend a learning lunch
  5. Keep you healthy –  You can eat more varieties of food instead of always get a sandwich or salad to go back to your deck.  You body will thank you and you can plan to do a quick workout at lunch as well

Even if you agree with these reasons, sometimes, we overachievers have a hard time actually taking the lunch break. Something can always come up last minute as higher priorities in our mind.  Given this, here are 6 tips about how to make sure your lunch break happen and that it helps your job performance and career

  1. Plan your break – Wait. How is planning relaxing? Well, for most people, relaxing is natural, but for others (ahem, successful type A’s reading this article), relaxing takes planning. The old adage stands even for the lunch break: failure to plan is planning to fail. If you don’t set aside time for lunch, you’ll find email responses and phone calls creeping into your downtime.  Many times I block out 30 min to 1 hour on my calendar for lunch.  This way I can ensure people does not always schedule a meeting during my lunch and I have the option to do a lunch meeting if it’s urgent. 
  2. Eat a well-balanced meal – If you’re worried about losing your edge by taking time to eat, you should rethink your logic. Low blood sugar leads to confused thought and low energy. Especially if all you had was coffee for breakfast, your afternoon could crash and burn without lunch. Eat the right foods and you’ll be capitalizing even more on those calories. Studies show that the omega-3s in fish and eggs and antioxidants in green tea stimulate the brain and make it sharper and more efficient.
  3. Limit your errands – The lunch break is a perfect time to take care of things that you can’t get to before or after work, but if you try to cram in too much, the goal to use the lunch break to reboot for the afternoon is going to be overridden.
  4. Plan activities at lunch – Go to a networking event, join Toaster Master club, or go for a run at the gym. Networking, for example,  is one of the most powerful means by which business leaders get ahead. Networking happens inside and outside the work place. If you’re nose gets pointed too much toward the ground, you may miss out on important business-related connections in the work place. Make lunch a time for you to come out of your office and network. Invite new colleagues to lunch. Find out what they do for your company. You never know how networking will help you down the line. Not only could it be a boost for your career, but it could also provide a solid social infrastructure at work.
  5. Get outside – Walking will stimulate endorphins and energy, and sunlight will give you a quick boost of Vitamin D. Especially if you’re starting to feel restless or bored, take a quick stroll around your business block. Getting away from the desk is sometimes the only solution to getting absorbed into your computer before you’re ready.
  6. Shake it up –  Humans love routine and often get into the habit of repeating choices. If you get too caught up in a routine, your mind can stop feeling stimulated. Choose a restaurant you’ve never eaten at. Ask a friend to join you.  Try a new food.  Do something that is unpredictable and you’ll be surprised by how your mind will feel more energized.

You are achieving success by making sacrifices for your work. Be careful that you’re making the right sacrifices and not skimping on the very things that will improve your productivity and energy in the workplace. Just say yes to lunch.

Your Comments:  Do you agree taking lunch breaks can help your career?  Why or why not?  Share your comments below

This is Guest post with significant edits by Lei Han in Italics.

Guest Author: Chris Brooks writes on business and career topics. If you wish to expand your business knowledge you may want to consider an MBA, like those offered by RIT Online and Providence College.

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