I think you know this already but maybe don’t acknowledge it or feel you can do anything about it? Motivation is finite. The further you get into the day the less of it you have at your disposal. The perfect time to top it up is lunch time! So here are the Lunch Break Rules!
Rule Number 1:
Take a lunch break! Don’t feel guilty. I remember a poster in a senior manager’s office that said – Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right, and just because no one is doing it doesn’t make it wrong. We need to overturn this ethos that you are somehow more worthy if you work through your lunch break. The reality is taking a break makes you more productive in the afternoon. You will get back the time ‘lost’ to the lunch break in increased productivity. A study at Bristol University showed that a lunch break (with some gentle exercise – see rule 4) boosted mood and motivation by 41% and improved peoples ability to deal with stress by 20%. Put some motivation in the bank. Oh…. and you are legally entitled to a break. Just saying!
Rule Number 2:
Move away from your desk. There is strong evidence that simply taking time away from your desk and moving your thoughts onto something else replenishes your ability to stay on task when you return to work. In fact when you take your attention away from the external and take some time to be a little more internal through ‘switching off’ and thinking of nothing, maybe through meditation (or just by not thinking too much!), you engage your brain’s Default Mode Network. This is the part of your brain that gets to work when you stop engaging with the external world. Interestingly your brain is only 5 to 10% less active when you are not thinking about anything. That’s your DMN getting to work on what it needs to do at a sub-conscious level, consolidating things, making connections, and the like. You must have experienced something coming to mind, a solution to a problem maybe, when you weren’t even trying to solve it. So get away from work, get away from your desk.
Rule Number 3:
Get outside. Being in the natural world is a great healer. If you work somewhere where you can spend some time in a green space then do it. We are hard wired from an evolutionary point of view to be in such spaces. They have a calming effect. And fresh air is good for you. Moving around is good for you. And that brings us to rule number 4…..
Rule Number 4:
Take some gentle exercise. I’ve already mentioned the Bristol Study above that involved some gentle exercise. A different study looked at how sitting less and moving more helped peoples productivity. They showed that a lunch time walk reduced stress, reduced sickness in staff, and led to more mindful practice. A walk will suffice but him the gym or go for a run if you want! As the UK Chief Medical Officer says…. some is good… more is better!
So…. You must achieve Rule 1! And then… if you can achieve 1 or 2 of rules 2, 3, and 4 – we’re onto a winner!
Take that lunch break