And no that doesn’t include sitting at your desk while staring at a computer screen. When I was in private practice, that’s what I used to do. I’d often have lunch alone in my office and claim that I’d get ahead in work. The days are long in private practice, and my habit made the days even longer.
But guess what? Our workdays since the pandemic are, on average, 48.5 minutes longer. Even though I now pride myself on taking a lunch break, since I chose to start my own business to create a better work-life balance, I found myself struggling to take one in 2020. Did you feel the same way?
There’s much research to support the benefits of taking a lunch break. One study found that employees are more satisfied with their jobs and more productive. Another study found that firefighters who ate lunch together felt they worked better as a team.
I’ve felt that same team spirit now that my husband (who’s also working from home) and I have been doing our best to coordinate our lunch breaks together in 2021. We aim to have lunch before noon so that we can watch The Price is Right! This gives us a few laughs, but our break also gives us an opportunity to support each other in talking out a work-related challenge or plan what we’re going to eat for dinner (we love food).
If you’ve been struggling to take a lunch break, here are five tips:
- It’s about taking a mental and physical break, and giving yourself permission to leave your work and trusting that you’ll be a better colleague if you do.
- Schedule a lunch date (and don’t cancel unless absolutely necessary) to create accountability.
- Create time to go for a walk or do some physical activity.
- Put a recurring lunch appointment in your calendar for others to see (and to remind yourself).
- Don’t schedule meetings around the lunch hour.
For leaders, you have an important role to play. You lead by example, taking your own lunch break and ensuring that employees don’t get penalized or viewed as being less productive.
When can we meet up for lunch?