Once upon a time, there was something called a "lunch hour" which allowed employees to get away from their desks for an hour and eat lunch. Some employees went home to make lunch, while others went out to eat. It wasn't unusual for certain executives to take more than an hour, creating the phrase "three-martini lunch". And, since most of them were paid for their lunch hour, they lived happily ever after (or at least, happily on payday).
Unfortunately, the age of the Lunch Hour has passed. In fact, one recent survey found that nearly half (48%) of workers take only 30 minutes or less for a lunch break and that 29% admit to working during lunch. Another survey from 2012 suggests that 65% of workers eat at their desk or don't take a break at all. The biggest reasons for this change? Downsizing has left many workers with more responsibility to complete in the same amount of time and an understandable fear of being considered unproductive if they are away from their desk.
While working through your lunch might look productive, the reality is that it might actually burn you out.
"There is support for this idea that taking these breaks can actually help you do better and focus better on your work and have new ideas," said Nancy Rothbard, a Professor of Management at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania on LiveScience. Employees who take a break come back refreshed and are more productive during the afternoon. So make yourself take a lunch break, even if it's only 30 minutes. Walk away from your desk and socialize with your colleagues or sit outside and enjoy the sunshine.
If you can't handle doing nothing, take those 30 minutes and do something to jump-start your career. To help, The Muse has put together a list of 10 Simple Ways to Advance Your Career on Your Lunch Break. Check out the complete list on their website, but here are a couple of highlights:
- Meditate for 10 minutes.
- Download and try a new productivity app.
- Sign up for a professional development class.
Here are a few more suggestions that you could try:
- Read a book that interests you.
- Learn a new skill or language.
- Eat lunch with someone from another department or office.
- Catch up with an old friend.
- Run errands.
So even though the Lunch Hour is dead, the lunch break doesn't have to be
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