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Lunch Breaks at Work: 20 Ways to Make the Most of an Hour

January 5, 2011  
Filed under The Workplace

man having a lunch break at workWhat’s there to do during your lunch hour? Why, there’s plenty. Rather than staying couped up in your office, get out of the premises—to a café, gym, park, store, or even the parking lot.

In the latest poll conducted by Right Management, 20 percent of employees eat at their desks and 13 percent “seldom or never” take lunch breaks while top executives were the most likeliest to take a break.

“Sometimes employees feel the need to stay at their desk or to apologize for stepping out. But this kind of culture isn’t the way to heighten performance and engagement,” says Douglas J. Matthews, President and Chief Operating Officer of Right Management.

Taking a break, you’ll be more refreshed, motivated and will end up being more productive at work, not to mention that your day will seem shorter.

So even you have a demanding workload, take a breather. When you’re not lunching with co-workers, here are 20 things you can do in an hour.

  1. Park your car in a shady area that is safe and take a nap. Remember to set your phone alarm.
  2. Take the time to write your goals and plans for the day, week, month or year.
  3. Read a book or listen to the audio version. You’ll be surprised at how fast you can finish a book with just one hour a day.
  4. Catch up on news, current events and pop culture (Yahoo.com, The Economist, Financial Times, NPR, Hulu.com, etc.).
  5. Invest in a small laptop and use it to take care of bills during your lunch break at a nearby cafe.
  6. Run your errands whether it involves shopping for gifts or buying supplies you’re out of.
  7. Use your smart phone to catch up and respond to personal emails.
  8. Catch up with friends on the phone.
  9. Work out at a nearby gym and while you’re at it, network.
  10. Donate blood.
  11. Learn a new language with Rosetta Stone or Dr. Pimsleur (audio).
  12. Listen to music and relax.
  13. Set up lunch appointments with friends and old co-workers.
  14. Write a book.
  15. Write on your blog.
  16. Plan a themed lunch potluck at work. Pass around a sign-up sheet and let the feast begin.
  17. Set up a lunch appointment with a higher up you want to learn from.
  18. Get a massage.
  19. Get your nails done—guys included (but no need for polish; just getting nails cleaned and buffed will do for clean presentation). Make sure to make an appointment beforehand.
  20. Explore the city you’re working in and find out what’s around. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a hidden gem.

*Note: If you’re required to remain at the work site during lunch, the meal must be paid even if you’re relieved of your work duties. And if an employer fails to provide a meal, he/she must pay one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of pay for each workday that the meal period is not provided.  (See CA Labor Code Section 226.7)

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