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How do you spend your free time at work?
Eating leftovers from home while finishing up a report? Going to the deli with a couple of coworkers and idly scanning your Facebook feed? Or maybe you work straight through your lunch hour because you want to get ahead on a project?
Don’t waste your precious free time during work!
Instead, make the most of your free time at work by planning exactly what you’re going to do to reclaim your time, the most precious commodity in going after your dream. Note that not every use of your lunch time has to be about tasks towards your dream. You need to also attend to the supporting players in your success. Good health habits and relationships.
First, step away from your desk and take some deep breaths and do a couple of stretches. Your body needs this break from sitting for hours. Then alternate these ideas. Don’t get stuck doing the same thing day after day, even if it’s something you enjoy. Varying your activities will bring you back to work refreshed from the change.
15 Ways To Make Better Use Your Lunch Break
1. Eat a healthy lunch.
Focus just on enjoying a nice meal, preferably in a natural setting. Even if that’s only the lawn in front of your office building. Don’t rush and don’t come back a minute early. The complete break from your work environment will have you returning to work refreshed and alert.
2. Run small errands that can’t be done outside work hours.
Although both banks and post offices now have Saturday hours, using your lunch hour for doing your banking or sending off a package means freeing yourself from those chores on the weekend. And that’s a good thing! What else is near your workplace where you can do errands? A Dry Cleaner, an Alteration shop? Does the nearby grocery store offer grocery pickup if you order online? Place your order during lunch and arrange to pick them up on your way home.
3. Meet a nearby friend for lunch.
Make a lunch date with someone whose office is near yours. It could even be your husband! We tend to be focused only on our workplace during the day but it’s easy to meet halfway when you work in the same general area. Catch up with a friend and really disconnect from work for awhile. It’s a great reset of your mood and both of you will be more energized for your afternoon.
4. Go to the gym.
If there’s a gym near your office, pack a change of clothes and use your lunch break to get a quick workout and shower in. You’ll feel great and you can check fitness off your list for the day.
5. Go for a long walk
No gym? Get Map My Walk for your phone and explore the area around your office. Make it fun by upping your pace each day and note interesting places nearby to come back to and explore on another day.
6. Break from your routine
Try a new restaurant to have lunch with a coworker, switch out your lunchtime activities. Much like fitness, when your body responds better to varying your activity, by changing up your lunch routine, your mind will be challenged and your week will be more fun. Plan ahead when you set up your week so that you’re ready for each daily activity you want to try.
7. Have lunch with someone from work you’d like to get to know better.
Is there a coworker that you interact with regularly on a business level but don’t really know personally? Invite him or her to lunch and make it a point to talk about anything but work. You might discover a new friend, or even a mentor who can help you with your own plans.
8. Stay off your devices.
Restrain from checking Facebook and other social media during your lunch hour. If you want to follow up on something, check in quickly and then move on to better ways to use your time. We lose hours a week on social media and phone apps. Try to make your work lunch hour a media-free time. Unless …
9. Listen to a podcast or audiobook.
If your plan is to walk or sit quietly while listening to an audiobook or inspiring podcast, your phone will be used for something more constructive to your goals. There are some great podcasts out there (check out these to get started) and most are less than a half hour long. When you find a podcast that inspires you, you can start listening to it on the way to work, continue during your lunch and on your way home. There’s no end to what you can learn. There are also great books on audio that you can learn from. Amazon has a free trial of Audible and very reasonable pricing afterwards for books you can listen to on the go. Check them out!
10. Get a pedicure.
Do yourself a favor and find the closest shops that offer personal care services. There’s a wide variety of treatments that can be done during your lunch hour. Try a pedicure, manicure, foot massage, eyebrow shaping, leg waxing, mini facial, blowout at a dry bar, and many others. Tune out the world and let someone take care of you for a change.
11. Have a brain dumping session.
It’s just what it sounds like.It’s a chance to get everything out of your head and onto paper.
You know all the little great or worrying ideas that keep you up at night or run through your mind over and over again. You’ll be amazed at how your stress level will decrease just by doing a brain dump. Your brain doesn’t have to hang on to that great idea, it’s on paper and safe so you can relax. You can also prioritize and schedule your ideas.
Get my Brain Dump Journal and make this a regular habit, or just grab a piece of paper and write down everything that comes into your head for 10 or 15 minutes.
Not enough time to get a yoga session in? Meditation is just as relaxing and can be done in only a few minutes if that’s all you have. Find a quiet place to pause and relieve your mind of all worries for awhile. If you can play some calming music or nature sounds, meditation can consist of simply closing your eyes and thinking of nothing at all. Push back the nagging deadlines and thoughts of things you need to do by the day’s end. Just give your mind a total rest for a little while.
13. Call family members.
Remember the advice to time your personal phone calls as a way of saving time while being intentional in your dealings with friends and family? Try using your lunch hour to schedule some personal time with people you love. Even five minutes of your undivided attention will make someone’s day.
14. Organize and tidy your desk.
Try to do this before leaving the office. Put your files away, dump used coffee cups, close out the files on your computer, quickly wipe down the surface of your desk and then go. By doing it before you leave the office, you know that everything will be ready on your return and you can focus on your chosen activity without thinking about it. And when you return to your desk, refreshed and relaxed, your desk will be a reflection of your mind.
15. Take a 20 minute nap.
The National Sleep Foundation says this about daytime naps: “A short nap is usually recommended (20-30 minutes) for short-term alertness. This type of nap provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.”
Some employers have designated nap rooms in their building, but if that’s not possible, consider having a comfortable pillow and light blanket in the back seat of your car. We are a sleep deprived culture and moms, especially, tend to burn the candle at both ends. Teach yourself to take short naps during your lunch break and you will enjoy a pleasant break from your day and return with increased alertness and better performance the rest of the day.
By taking back your time at work, you can be a better employee and use your breaks to work towards your goals; whether that’s self care to free time later, taking the time to run errands and get in touch with loved ones, using short blocks of time to brainstorm or learn, or resting your mind and body through meditation or rest.
Start making plans to mix up your lunchtime routine today and enjoy the benefits of a real break from your daytime job.
You know that big dream? That (fill-in-the-blank) you want to accomplish? The dream that you turn to on bad days and that you can’t let go of?
It’s never going to happen (mic drop).
I’m NOT telling you to throw away your dream because you’re not good enough to make it happen.
NOT AT ALL!
But I AM telling you that your dream will always stay just that – a dream.
UNLESS you take action.
UNLESS you decide to stop admiring the problem, pull up your big girl pants and make it happen.
I can’t do it for you.
But I CAN help you do it for yourself.
Isn’t it about time that you create the life you’ve been dreaming about? You need a PLAN, a step by step roadmap to take you where you want to go.
Are you ready?