Words by Lisa Hughes
July 28th, 2017
Are you reading this on your lunch break while hunched over your keyboard, scoffing a sandwich as you dig through your unread emails? You’re not alone.
According to research by Bord Bia, the average Irish lunch break is just 22 minutes. You might think you’ll get a gold star from the boss for bouncing back to your desk with your Blazing Salads bag and resuming work ASAP but countless studies have shown that getting away from the office for your lunch break actually improves your focus and performance.
We’ve rounded up some suggestions for your lunch break that’ll help you be more focused and productive back in the office.
As predicted by the Washington Post, lunchtime meditation is the next big wellness craze, with meditation centres popping up across the United States, including three openings in Washington D.C. alone in four months. If you’re based in Dublin, drop into the Dublin Buddhist Centre for a silent lunchtime meditation. It’s free but places fill up fast so book in advance.
Can’t leave the office? Book a meeting room for yourself and ask your colleagues not to disturb you. Download Headspace, Calm or just savour the silence.
Music therapy doesn’t mean the latest Lana Del Rey album. By releasing the feel good hormone dopamine, music has been proven to increase workplace productivity so check out a lunchtime concert or recital. The National Concert Hall in Dublin is running a new season of lunchtime concerts or keep an eye on the listings of your local newspaper or just google ‘lunchtime concerts’ to find out about free concerts near you.
No music? No problem. Make your way to the nearest gallery or museum and feast your eyes. You’ll leave feeling inspired.
Another great way to feed your brain, other than mindfully eating your lunch, is with an audiobook or podcast. Escape to a nearby park, take a stroll around the block and put your headphones in. You can find audio books about everything from style to self-help on Audible.com or subscribe to a storytelling podcast series like Serial or You Must Remember This to really stimulate your mind.
Researchers at MIT found that socialising at work actually improves productivity and positively impacts the general office mood. Getting to know your colleagues doesn’t have to mean Thursday pints and Friday hangovers though. The route to everyone’s good side is food so setting up a lunch club where you take it in turns to bring in food (even just those killer brownies you love baking) is a sure-fire way to delight your deskmates.
Work from home? Organise a lunchtime tweetup on Twitter. You never know who you’ll meet – your new BFF or next boss – and the mingling will boost your morale back at the desk.
According to recent research from the UK, 52% of people skip lunch completely at least once a week and 37% said they rarely leave the office at lunchtime. When you don’t take your full lunch hour, you’re working over 6,000 more minutes doing work you were legally entitled not to do. How insane is that? You might think you look like a committed employee but the truth is, being overworked is the fast track route to poor performance and burnout. Instead, the best thing you can do to increase your focus and drive is to take your whole lunch break – and stop feeling guilty about it.
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