How Taking a Break Can Help You Be More Productive

Lunch Break - How to Be Productive

Do you find yourself doing everything but eating at lunchtime? Do you even take a lunch break? Are you one of those people that thinks working through lunch makes you more productive? Do you eat at all during your break? Be more productive by taking a break!

The whole point of a lunch break is to do just that, break. Although we may not always think of our break time as a part of our productivity in business, it is. There are many reasons why employers are required to give a lunch break. Too many lunch breaks are taken at ones desk with a sandwich in one hand while typing with the other. It seems as though our society doesn’t believe in breaks anymore. We have become work obsessed and many of us have forgotten the benefits that come with downtime. Our brains are always working. Just as important as refilling your car with gas to get to work we must refuel our brains to continue to work effectively.

Lately, I have found that I haven’t left my desk much. I’ve been so busy that sometimes I skip lunch. I know many of you are just like me even if you work from home. So I took some time to do some internet reasearch and here are some ideas that I have come up with. These are ideas that I’ve found that I will apply to my day to make it less stressful and more productive.

 7 Things You Can Do During Lunch to Be More Productive

It’s called a Break for a reason.
We are all guilty of it. You only leave the office when you haven’t brought your lunch in with you or when you have errands to run. Usually you find yourself bringing your lunch to work so you never leave your desk, this is counterproductive.  Take a break in the true sense of the word. Leave the Blackberry or iPhone at your desk. Most of us are staring at a screen of some kind all day. Your brain needs a mental break from computer screens and so do your eyes. Just going for a walk around the block may be all you need to break the monotony. Fresh air and sunshine can be mood altering, inspirational and calming. A happy employee leads to better moral overall and creativity which often translates into productivity.

Take control and let go.
Make lunch time your own by taking control of your lunch break and not letting it control you. Don’t bring the stress of the office on break with you. Take the time to clear your head and not focus on work if only for a short time. Give your brain a rest. Coming back to the office after a relaxing lunch can make you a better problem solver and also help to boost your creativity.

Get up and out.
Don’t be so attached to your desk. There is a good chance that if you leave your desk at lunch time it will still be there when you return. Why do we stay at our desks like they are going to float away without our elbows on it? Get out, get up. Not only is it beneficial for your mental health but your overall health. By getting away from your desk and going for just a short walk you increase circulation not only to your extremities but also to your brain.

Here is a fun way you can enjoy your lunch and get some exercise too! I found this comedic video on YouTube but all jokes aside it’s not such a bad idea to get some yoga in during your lunch break either.

Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day but lunch is a close second. Food gives our bodies the energy it needs to function correctly. Once we have refueled our bodies we are apt to better concentration, more effective decision making and quicker responses making for a productive worker. You are not helping anyone by starving yourself throughout the day, least of all yourself.

Make a new friend.
Use your lunch break to make new connections. Making new connections is can be beneficial to your marketing plan. Through “word of mouth” you not only get a personal spin on the company but you have capitalized on free marketing and advertisement at the same time. Who knows who the person sitting next to you may be? Venturing out and making new connections opens your business up to clientele that may have otherwise never known about your company. Networking is one of the cornerstones of business, like most things in life it is who you know. Why not use your lunch break to connect with potential customers?

Bring someone along.
Help someone else have a real lunch break by taking a customer to lunch. Staying connected to your customers is one way to keep them coming back. Make a list of customers that have supported you from the beginning of your business venture and/or those that you would like to especially thank and take them to lunch. This gives you a chance to remind them that you are still there and that you appreciate their business at the same time. It is important to keep your customers coming back. Your promotional marketing can really benefit from this. This is your chance to make an impression.

Plan your breaks.
Just because you are on a break does not mean that you have free time. Maximize the time you have by planning your day ahead. Stop scheduling your lunch breaks around meetings and conferences. It is ok to take the time to recharge your body.

By using online project management tools, planners and calendars you can effectively manage your day. Schedule meetings 45 min before and after lunch so there is not a feeling of “I have to get right back” or “I can’t leave”.

Run the errands you don’t have time to complete after work. Maybe you need to go to the bank or the cleaners. Use your lunch break to lessen the load of the evening but don’t overload your lunch break either. The point is to maximize your time, not trade one stress for another. By handling errands at lunch time you are away from the office and have made you evening less hectic.

What are some things you have done on your lunch break? Do you find taking a lunch break to be beneficial to your day? Did you take lunch today?

74 thoughts on “How Taking a Break Can Help You Be More Productive

  1. There are occasions, like today, where I am able to sneak away and have lunch with my wife at her work. Doesn’t seem like much but a half hour away from everything where we can get some time of peace away from everything else is a great boost to the day.
    Jon Jefferson recently posted…Bling BlingMy Profile

  2. I love the idea of taking a break to be more productive. My bank offers deposit checks by app – my son uses it. But that means no excuse to walk outside in the sunshine (or rain) to go to the bank, and no opportunity to say hello to others along the way. My breaks calm me down.
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  3. I very quickly find myself overloaded if I don’t take a break for lunch a few days in a row. I have a curious mind so I’m always finding rabbit holes to jump down or other things to do. The break at lunch let’s me reset and rethink. It’s like getting an energy boost. In fact, I’m beginning to think a quick walk first thing in the morning my be a good idea too! 🙂
    Debra Yearwood recently posted…Label Blindness – When You Become Trapped By Your TitleMy Profile

  4. Hi Arleen.Great information. When I think of all the breaks I didn’t take it really adds up. I know you are right about the importance of taking a break from the work. Sometimes you can get so caught up in what you’re doing that you really have to make the special effort to do it for all the good reasons you state. It’s also an excellent lesson in one of the elements effective time management. Thanks for your helpful advice 😉
    Tony recently posted…SEO Trends Are They Hurting Your Online Business Marketing Success? What You Can DoMy Profile

  5. I’m thankful that yoga is offered where I work (we have a full gym of equipment too). Yet, I find myself just wanting the peace of walking rather than a strutured class. I’ll admit to being attached to my desk willing the hours to pass, and it gets harder to break that cycle once it gets colder. But right now, my main goal is to get out for at least 20 minutes each day.
    Arnebya recently posted…What I’ve Decided About This BlogMy Profile

  6. Hey Arleen,

    I agree about the power of breaks. Breaks are good (and needed) for both our mind and our body. These days, people are too impatient to take breaks (and not taking breaks is very counterproductive).

    I used to take long breaks (from one hour to one day) to refresh my mind and to get more ideas (and most of my breaks were really successful). The longest break I have ever taken from blogging is my 9 months break (from which I just got back) 😀 I feel different now. I have more ideas, better ideas to start a better blog.

    Right now, I am experimenting with short breaks – 2 min breaks every 25 minutes. Two minutes in which I walk, exercise or stretch my body; helps to counteract the disadvantages of sitting for a long period (This is also a resting period for my eyes).

    Anyways, thank you for the tips 🙂

  7. Arleen, very good reminders. It seems that your tips all sum up to saying be intentional about taking a break. I sometimes think skipping lunch is better for me, but I shouldn’t skip the lunch break!

  8. I work from home, but I always make it a point to either get out at lunchtime or at least sit in the kitchen and eat some lunch away from my computer. I agree that it is vital to take breaks. I especially enjoy going for a run at lunchtime. I come back so refreshed and more productive.

  9. I’ve been getting so tired the last week while working … then I realized, it’s often because I’m skipping a full breakfast and not taking a lunch break on time. So I end up just mentally drained. Once I eventually do get some food in me, or head out for some sun, I feel totally energized!

    So I make a trip to the coffee store (for some sun) part of my daily routine now. Sure, I can just make coffee at home (I work from home), but it’s the getting out and getting some sun that gives me that extra energy to get through the day!
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  10. Oh, this is SO true. It’s when you don’t think you don’t have enough time for a break that you need it the most! Breaks are like little rewards or perks. If you don’t reward yourself, who will?! Working from home, as I do, can make it challenging. But also more fun, with more choices. I can go for a walk, snuggle with the cats, step out for a coffee, or take a nap. I’ve learned the hard way that if you don’t take breaks, you burn out – and it’s hard to bounce back.
    Krystyna Lagowski recently posted…Miata has all the right movesMy Profile

  11. I actually do most of my editing during my lunch hour. This is not exactly the healthiest thing to do, especially missing a meal. But since I have finished editing my fourth novel I plan to stop abusing my body and take a break for once. As a matter of fact, I’m going to grab something to eat right now.
    Paul Centeno recently posted…ProgressMy Profile

  12. Hi Arlene,

    I work at home and I do take quite a few breaks every now and then. Since we have a little baby running around my office all the time, I have to go to the bathroom once in a while, get a cup of coffee, take the dog out to pee, etc., etc. YES, must have that break every hour or so.

    But sometimes, when I’m alone at night and work so late, I’m the type of person when I start work and trying to hit the deadline, I won’t stop till it’s finish. There was one time that I didn’t take many breaks even peeing was hard to do…I end up having bladder infection. So never again. Must have a break no matter what.


  13. Hi Arleen,

    Taking breaks are my specialty! Because I work from home, and have had my own business for many years, I had to create breaks for myself.

    There are those days where I do try to cram everything in, but to no avail. I find myself less productive.

    Sometimes I’m in the middle of a project and don’t want to stop even to eat. But, I drag myself out because I know what happens if I don’t.

    When the weather is beautiful, I may take longer breaks just to enjoy a bright sky or walk. Without breaks, our brain cannot be re-charged!

    Donna Merrill recently posted…EMDR TherapyMy Profile

  14. I always make myself take a lunch break, but my husband is horrible about eating at his desk. However, he’s much better at getting up from his chair periodically throughout the day than I am. In the long run, he’s definitely got the productivity edge over me. Ironically, with all the time in the world to write, that can often cause more harm than good when it comes to getting things done.
    Jeri recently posted…Banned Books Week Sept 22-28My Profile

  15. Good article. I couldn’t agree more. How many of us eat at our desks every day?

    I know the article is about lunch breaks, but there are other breaks that can also make you more productive. What about a break from your career? Whether planned or unplanned (as in being laid off), a break in your career can help you refocus as well. It is obviously more refreshing if it is planned, but even unplanned career breaks can help you get back on track with your career.

  16. It’s sad that lunch breaks have gone the way of the dodo bird. Back in the day you could make a lunch date with a friend or a business colleague and people in the office didn’t look askance at you. Forget about the 2-martini lunch. You’re lucky to finish your sandwich at your desk. I applaud your writing on this topic. Yes, we need to get out, even if it’s just for a walk around the block.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Why You Should Edit the Headlines in Your LinkedIn DiscussionsMy Profile

  17. Arleen –
    Really funny blog! But a lot of truth in this. Just today I almost stayed attached to my desk. I went to the teacher’s lounge instead and ending up laughing so hard. We all had tears running down our face hilarity over sandwiches and tea. It was so much fun and a great start to the afternoon!
    About the chewing – when I sit at my computer and work, the bell rings and I could not even tell you what I ate most days. I probably didn’t enjoy it enough to chew for sure!
    I’ll be thinking about the yoga. I’ve done it in years past, but it is not always easy to get quiet.
    Your ideas definitely go me to thinking, and made me smile!
    Karen Hoyt recently posted…Hepatic Encephalopathy a Hep C and Cirrhosis NightmareMy Profile

  18. That video had me LOL in Starbucks just now! I needed that! Actually, I find myself reading others blogs, or writing a post myself at times during lunch. It is so important to take that “me” time throughout the day!

    Thank you for sharing!
    Mark Brody recently posted…A Sense of PurposeMy Profile

  19. I did a blog about Angela Ahrendts, the CEO og Burberry the luxury brand and one of only 3 women ceo’s in the FTSE 250. She really has a balance in her life and runs a family, great marriage, she is someone we can all learn from Christobel

  20. Hi Arleen

    I must confess for most of my life I have eaten my lunch at my desk while I worked. I seldom ever took a break. I even ended up in hospital once as I bolted a sandwich very quickly to take a call from a client. I ended up with severe indigestion which my PA was convinced was a heart attack. You would think I would learn right there but the only thing I changed was not bolting.

    Now I am much better. My husband always breaks and gets up from his desk. As we both work from home we eat together. Today we actually went to a cafe to get away.

    I love that video. It is the type of thing I would once have done and thought I was multi- tasking 🙂

    A great post Arleen and one most people need to read.

    Sue Price recently posted…Right Place Right TimeMy Profile

  21. I follow the contrarian idea that not eating breakfast keeps us lean, hungry and alert until lunchtime. Just like our cave men ancestors who had to walk a few miles to find food and went to sleep after a big meal.

    A lunch break is important, I get out of my office and take a 30 minute break from all work while my wife and I eat our light lunch

    Living in the country and working from home, it’s difficult to just get out and meet people by walking out the door. It has its benefits though, if I am short of inspiration, I take my dog for a walk down the quite country road and enjoy nature.
    Peter Wright recently posted…Is this buying habit the cause or effect of poor values?My Profile

  22. Hello Arleen,

    It’s a known fact that many of us can’t increase the working hours in the day, although we can increase our energy. What I’ve learned is that taking more time off can be counter intuitive for most of us. The idea is also at odds with the prevailing work ethic in most companies, where downtime is typically viewed as time wasted. In the end, we all know that taking multiple breaks throughout the day provides a great boon to productivity, but just how important is relaxation in the long run? I feel that it’s very important, and relaxing is one of the best ways to actually get stuff done. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
    Nate Leung recently posted…Internet Marketing Tips: What Is The Real Truth About Lead Generation?My Profile

    • Nate- I would rather my employees take their breaks and come back feeling more productive then sitting at their desks getting burnt out. I think companies view it as wasted time when the employees take advantage. Many people are not productive how many breaks they take so it depends on the attitude of the person. You don’t have to eat at a break, but you can do stretching exercises, anything that will help your mind and body regroup.
      Arleen recently posted…How Taking a Break Can Help You Be More ProductiveMy Profile

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  24. Nice article Arleen, it’s refreshing to see this side of things. I’m lucky enough to work for a company that values personal time and breaks of its employees, which makes a nice change! I’ve previously worked at companies where it was almost “frowned upon” if you took a full lunch break or had lunch away from your desk!

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