Reclaim your lunch


Stepping away from our desks – and our emails – is one of the most important parts of achieving more at work. Let’s discourage people from eating al desko and urge everyone to use lunch breaks to refresh themselves.

It’s very easy to find ourselves skipping lunch to make progress on the piles of work that have built up while we’ve been in meetings.

It seems silly to wander outside when we can make progress with the urgent things in our inbox.

Think about other people who manage their energy for a living. When we watch tennis players they cultivate a calm between points. They consciously focus on walking slowly around the court. This is specifically because they’ve been trained to try to lower their pulse by 30 beats a minute to preserve energy for longer. Now think about how you tear between meetings, how you breathlessly try to get everything done as quickly as possible. Which approach do you think is more sustainable?


The challenge of course is that in the accountable world of 2018 looking conscientious is often an important consideration (a depressing reality of modern office politics).


The science suggests that breaks are an important part of us re-energising. There’s a reason why pilots have a mandated nap break in their shift. Our bodies aren’t machines and need to refresh themselves. 


The best action that any of us can take is to ensure we take a lunch break. The work of Ben Waber suggests we should probably take a break with colleagues – but even if we do it alone.


University of Illinois professor Alejandro Lleras says that “deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused…it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task”.

Further reading:

Tony Schwartz on taking back your lunch.

Why lunchtime exercise (or walking) might be the best thing of all.

Breaks help avoid burnout.

62% of American professionals eat lunch at their desk.

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