5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Lunch Hour

The typical work week consists of 40 hours a week, usually spread across five days. Out of those eight hours we spend working, there’s time in the middle intended for midday sustenance…otherwise known as lunch.  Unless mandated by a union or some other governance, employers are not required to offer lunch breaks to employees; it’s just time worth taking.

Which is what makes it strange that a majority of people tend to use their lunchtime eating but working at the same time. Or just working.

Taking time in the middle of the day for something other than work is critical to maintaining productivity and boosting energy. It’s *literally* the time during which employees should be refueling and reenergizing for the rest of the day. Plan activities during the lunch hour to accomplish these goals; below, we’ve got five ideas to test out each day of the week.

Monday: Take a gym break.

Hop on the elliptical, do some yoga, or just stretch. All of these activities will impart an energy boost that can help sustain the mind through the rest of the day. Additionally, a regular workout schedule helps maintain good health and increases focus while reducing stress. Regardless, starting the week with positive energy is a great way to set the tone.

Tuesday: Doze.

Yes, we mean take a nap. A quick nap—think 10-30 minutes—is enough to boost your alertness (but don’t sleep longer, otherwise you might get groggy). Some studies hold that napping is the key to both productivity and creativity. It’s definitely the cure to the mid-afternoon doldrums. Experts say that the best time to siesta is between one and four p.m. Sounds about right, huh?

Wednesday: Surf the web.

Those articles favorited on Twitter or added to Pocket? Take time to read them today.  Catch up on news, blogs, books, anything that offers a mental break from work. Reading is, by nature, a solitary activity, and helps the mind and body wind down. 

Thursday: Turn off and tune out.

Okay, let’s turn it around on Thursday. Unplug from computers, phones, tablets, anything that beeps. Take time for a stroll and reflect on the day so far. What has gone well? Taking time to reflect on accomplishments bolsters gratitude and, even if the day hasn’t been the best, think of the afternoon as a chance to reset and get back on track with the right attitude. 

Friday: Organize.

It’s Friday. F-R-I-D-A-Y. Before packing up mentally, organize your thoughts—literally—and create a to-do list for what you want to accomplish in your personal life. Be as literal or figurative as you want. But simply feeling like things are controllable and in order in the ‘life’ portion of work-life balance is enough to refocus mental energy while reducing stress to round out the week on a high note. 


Oh, and in the middle of all this? Eat. Seriously. Obviously, we endorse eating healthily and mindfully, particularly because eating well earlier = thinking better later. Follow our lead and plan meals for the week as well as lunch activities. Remember: there’s all the time in the world to work, but only limited time for lunch. Make the most of it!

How do you spend your lunch hour?