There is a seemingly endless drive to be productive, so why waste valuable lunchtime hours?
In the constant quest to be productive, every hour is valuable and should be used to maximal efficiency. This is the dominant consensus in most workplaces at the moment, and this psychology of needing to achieve as much as possible leads many people to work through their lunch hours, all but chaining themselves to their desk and refusing to take a break until the task is completed.
Yet this approach to productivity is far from the optimal way to work on any task. Often, taking a break, doing some exercise or eating right can be far more helpful for our overall productivity than anything else. Here are three top tips for boosting your productivity at lunchtime, allowing you to avoid burn out and remain engaged and efficient in your work.
1. TAKE SOME TIME FOR REFLECTION
One of the primary problems that working through your lunch break brings is that it does not allow any mental breathing space throughout the day. Far from meaning you stay focused, not allowing headspace actually hampers your ability to think clearly, gain perspective and reflect on what needs to be done next.
According to an article by Business Insider, ‘your lunch hour is critical for keeping your productivity and energy levels up. Working or rushing through it can be detrimental to your success.’ The article quotes Michael Kerr, a professional business speaker and author, who argues that ‘your lunch hour is your chance to get refocused, reenergized, and refueled (literally) for the rest of your day.’
Contradicting the conceived wisdom that productive people must work through their lunch break, Kerr suggests that ‘successful people treat [their lunch break] like the half-time show at a football game — an opportunity to regroup and consider how they're going to play out the rest of their day.’
2. FUEL YOUR BRAIN WITH HEALTHY FOOD
Another common mistake people make when it comes to lunchtimes is that, even if they do take a break, they do not refuel with healthy food which still hampers their productivity.
According to an article by Inc.com, ‘your brain uses 20% of all the energy you consume over the course of the day - more energy than any other organ.’ Inc.com argues that this:
‘makes feeding your brain critical. Unfortunately, many people make their midday meal one of processed junk that makes them feel tired and sluggish. If you grab fast food at lunch, your productivity will definitely tank. All those trans fats, added sugars, and modified foods wreak havoc on your brain.’
By ensuring that you eat properly at lunchtime and refuel your brain in a healthy way, it is possible to maintain high levels of concentration, which in turn leads to better productivity. Although it is of course easy to grab the nearest unhealthy snack as a quick solution, planning your lunches ahead of time and ensuring you have good food to hand will mean that this quickly becomes a habit rather than a chore, freeing up time and attention to be devoted to the task at hand.
3. EXERCISE TO REFOCUS YOUR ATTENTION
A huge part of the problem with skipping your lunch break is that your attention will begin to dwindle in the afternoon, leaving you unfocused, procrastinating and easily distracted.
One way to combat this problem is to use some of your lunchtime to exercise. There are many articles discussing the best time to exercise, with many highly-productive and successful individuals opting to exercise in the morning to start their day in a positive manner. The same logic can be applied to lunchtimes, as exercise can provide a clear break in your day that allows you to clear your mind and refocus your attention for the afternoon.
For Fast Company, exercise ‘has lots of benefits, including reducing stress, improving mood and increasing confidence and self-esteem.’ With high intensity work outs a popular option for an efficient work out, a short burst of intense exercise could be just what you need to leave your brain refreshed for the afternoon.
By making some small changes to your routine and optimising your lunchtimes, you can ensure that the rest of your day is productive and on task.
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