Real talk: When is the last time you even took a lunch break? Not that standing-over-your-desk, quick-bites-sandwiched-between-emails-and-phone-calls crap–a real, full lunch hour, away from the office, to feed your body and your brain what they need.
You might think that working through your lunch break makes you efficient and sets you up for a successful day. It does not.
Taking an hour break in the middle of your work day is one of the most important things you can do to eliminate the afternoon slump and create a productive second half. Studies have proven that taking a lunch break allows your brain to recuperate. Without it, you will find that you grow increasingly tired, stressed, and less focused as the day goes on.
The most resilient athletes in the world take 15-minute breathers in the middle of every game–even the toughest games of their lives. These short breaks give them time to review, rest, and reset. Without the opportunity to engage in these three steps, players wouldn’t have the renewed mindset needed to take the win.
Your lunch break is your half time. Take it seriously and use it to your advantage, just like the best athletes in the game.
Here is how you review, rest, and reset so you can pivot your afternoons to productivity:
#1. Review: Quick Workout
Athletes come off the court for halftime with their nerves tingling, blood pumping, and oxygen flooding their brains–the ideal physiological state to review and assess how their games are going. Most of our jobs don’t leave us in this heightened physical condition right before lunch, but there’s no reason we can’t create the same effect.
Block off the first quarter, 15-minutes of your lunch break, to switch gears and get your blood pumping: Go for a walk, take a quick run, flow through a short yoga session, visit YouTube and follow a fun cardio video.
This block of time pulls double-duty as a critical one-on-one meeting with yourself, benefitting both your body and your mind. Exercising pulls you off the court automatically, taking you away from your desk physically and mentally. Use this distance to review the first half of your day, what went well and what you can do differently.
#2. Rest: Take a Timeout
Even athletes need to rest their muscles for a few minutes during halftime; for most of us, the most targeted muscle we use throughout our workday is the brain. Switch gears again after your review session; for the second quarter, the next 15-minutes of your lunch, take a timeout. Rest your mind by changing what you’re focused on for a short time.
If your review session highlighted a crazy day and an infinite number of items on your to-do list, it may seem stupid to take a break just to rest, but that’s when you need it the most. A 15-minute break here won’t break your day–it will make it.
Take a nap, read a non-work related item, listen to mood-changing music, tune into a Game Changer podcast. These small acts, redirecting your mind to a completely different focal point, are amazing for your productivity once you step back into the game.
#3. Reset: Feed Your Body and Brain
The second half of your lunch break needs to be devoted to something simple, easy, and frequently overlooked–
DO NOT skip lunch.
The only thing worse than not taking a lunch break is not eating lunch at all. Eating a nourishing meal in the middle of the day stimulates your creativity, focus, memory, problem-solving, and many other abilities you need in order to persevere and make your day a success. It’s not just resetting your energy stores–it’s resetting and reaffirming your commitment to yourself and your goals.
For the last 30-minutes of your lunch break, feed your brain by feeding your body. It isn’t shocking news that healthy food improves brain function. Fuel yourself with ingredients for increased productivity–nuts, blueberries, protein, eggs, spinach, tea, etc. There are so many different types of brain food to choose from, there’s no excuse not to eat healthy and support your drive for greatness.
That’s it–these three steps are all you need to pivot your lunch break. The difference you’ll see in the efficiency of your afternoons will shock you, and the gains in your life will stack up quickly–IF you make this part of your daily routine. Commit to yourself, your goals, and your time each and every day: schedule your halftime breaks. Physically write them into your calendar. Stick to them like you do all your urgent and important meetings. It’s the most important meeting you’ll have with yourself all day.