Share Tweet Many see the lunch break as a time to down tools, relax and shoot the breeze with your colleagues. Of course from time to time this is a superb way to spend your lunch break. Taking that time to socialise with those around you makes for a better working environment and a more engaged workforce long term. The lunch break however is approximately 5 hours a week where you have time afforded to you to do other things other than be on the clock at work. It’s precious time you should utilise in a whole host of different ways. The main takeaway from this should be that a lunch break should involve diversity. No one day should be the same and it should be used to fulfil a number of personal, business and life goals week on week. We live busy, dynamic lifestyles; free time is precious and therefore should be used in a way which is effective to you and what you want to achieve. Youtube, irrelevant articles and general procrastination used to be my main achievements from my lunch break. By diversifying this day by day you can meet these life goals and still enjoy your lunch breaks. Here’s a few ways you can use your own lunch break properly and reap the rewards of a diverse, effective lunch period. Run errands: Chores, errands, bills to pay. We all have them. The lunch break is for relaxation though? Not always. Sometimes we just need to ‘get shit done’ and the lunch break is a fantastic opportunity to do so. I would much prefer my lunch break to be taken by chores as opposed to my precious few hours after work. The evenings get shorter as our commitment to work increases. You need to savour all the free time you have and by completing important jobs on your lunch break you have time to spend after work with your loved ones…….watching game of thrones! Meet friends: Meeting friends once or twice a week is another superb use of the lunch break. Busy schedules, family life, hobbies & life commitments mean sometimes it can be difficult to merely spend time with friends. You may work in a central location or one which is easily accessible for friends. Why not grab a coffee or a bite to eat at least once a week? This allows you to kill two birds with one stone by maintaining social relationships and consuming that all important meal/beverage on your lunch hour. Spend time with Family: Unfortunately this isn’t an option for everyone as we don’t all have the luxury of working close to family or working from home. If you do however spending some time with a loved one can really provide you the revitalisation you require for the afternoon of work. I’m extremely fortunate to work from home twice a week and one of those days I meet my wife for lunch. Not only does this give us both a break but it allows us to catch up on conversations which just don’t sometimes happen once exhausted after work. Secondly I know of a number of home workers who spend the lunch time walking the dog with their partner or merely taking time away from the computer to have a home cooked meal. Exercise: Dependant on your proximity to a gym/park/ or method of exercise then the lunch break can be a perfect time to fit in that daily burst of physical exertion. Life and it’s challenges mean exercise is usually pushed to the back burner however utilising your lunch break will allow you to fit in this essential task. You may just use your lunch break to take a walk or you may flex your time so you can fit in a whole gym session. Whatever your strategy it makes sense to utilise the lunch break on some occasions to meet one of your weekly exercise goals. Connect via social media: Use this time to network with industry peers, socialise with like minded people and build relationships. Those working online especially should follow this strategy. Using your lunch break to connect with people you have a vested interest in on a business level can really enhance who you know and help you in the future. I spend a significant amount of time just talking to people within the same industry as I work in. I build relationships and these people help me when I need it most. Have a problem which you cannot work out? Usually a well developed network can help you. Leave your desk: One of the most effective ways to utilise your lunch break is to leave your desk. Those who stay at their desk are more than likely to check emails or answer emails if something important comes in. This defeats the purpose of a lunch break. Furthermore there’s a significant amount of health benefits in leaving your desk on your lunch. Good Health New Zealand cite that eating at your desk is unhygienic as well as terrible for posture as further reasons why it makes sense to step away from the desk you spend a considerable amount of your life stuck to. Strategically plan your day around your lunch: Although this point isn’t a direct way of utilising your lunch break more effectively it is essential in allowing a great lunch break to occur. Meetings shouldn’t fall into the lunch break or be immediately after the lunch break as this psychologically takes a hit on your free time. Leaving a meeting and suddenly losing that meeting mindset is tough. You may want to write down some key points from the meeting or research discussions from the meeting. Get away and read!: Reading inspires. Simple. Sit in the park, find a quiet break out area in the office and immerse yourself in some reading. Whether I read a guide to lifestyle, marketing or fitness great books inspire and enthuse me for the rest of the working day. You could merely just step away from your desk and read some fiction. This will relax you and de stress your mind for a period of time. Education: Read blogs, inspire yourself, learn new ways in doing things. It will give you a real boost within the workplace. Continued development is something you should always look to achieve in your life. Do things which develop you as an individual and enhance your skill set. You can read blogs on your smart phone away from your desk so you don’t need to be glued to a computer. Use an App like Pocket to save up a number of awesome articles and spend a lunch break a week or fortnightly reading through and acquiring new knowledge. Just do nothing!: Sometimes doing nothing can be the most effective way at using your lunch break. If the weather is great then sometimes theres nothing better than just eating slowly and enjoying the time away from the desk. It can leave your body refreshed and ready to work in the afternoon. When I work from home I sometimes eat my lunch at my dining table; no iphone, no TV, no distractions. This way I enjoy my food and have some time without any digital distractions (this happens rarely for millennials). If the weather is nice then you may want to just sit outside and watch the day go by. Sometimes its good and healthy to just do nothing. You get five lunch breaks a week so I don’t expect you to do them all everyday. It’s a good idea to get a nice blend of work, relaxation and efficiency within your lunch breaks. Try make them all different and don’t follow a set routine. One day you may focus on errands, another you may connect with buddies via social media. On a Friday you might go out with work colleagues for some lunch. Differentiation is the key. It’s extremely easy to waste your lunch break especially if you work in an environment where it’s difficult to leave behind the work. You need to make sure you utilise it most effectively. Planning ahead what you are going to do with your lunch break is another strategy. Although this may seem a little too ‘organised’ it enables you to reach goals for the week and not immerse yourself in the latest Youtube video. Interesting Reads: Buffer look at this from a productivity and actively enhancing your working day. The lunch time focus throughout is based on the type of foods, mentality and exercises to do in order to boost productivity. Another alternative perspective to the use of the lunch break and worth a read here.