Like many professionals, it can be easy to get into the unhealthy habit of eating lunch at your desk and never seeing sunlight. You might th...

Maximizing Your Lunch-break for a Productive Afternoon

Like many professionals, it can be easy to get into the unhealthy habit of eating lunch at your desk and never seeing sunlight. You might think responding to emails or powering through an important report during your lunch break will help you get ahead, and it will in the short term. But by doing so, you’re denying yourself the chance to relax and recharge, and that can affect your afternoon productivity.

In a recent Hays survey, as part of their Australian/New Zealand Workplace Series, over half of all respondents admitted to eating lunch at their desks. 41% of respondents also believed that taking less time than their allocated break shows increased commitment to their employer, which highlights the issue of ill-advised employee standards.


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To set yourself up for a productive afternoon, and ensure you don’t return to work feeling like you’ve wasted an hour of your day, try one or two of the below tips over the next few days.

1. Nourish your body

This is an obvious one, but make sure you take the time to eat a well-balanced lunch. If it’s packed with protein, you’ll be energized for the rest of the afternoon and will avoid running into that 3pm slump. If the weather permits, eat your lunch outside to get some fresh air and give your eyes a break from the screens. If you have the time, a brisk walk around the block will do wonders to clear your mind and build up your stamina.

2. Listen to a podcast or online lecture

While you’re taking that walk or sitting outside, kick your brain into gear with a podcast or video tutorial.  If you want to keep the focus on your professional self, consider a podcast that can aligns with your career goals. Design a playlist on an online learning site such as Lynda.com or download the next book you want to read as an audiobook.

3. Build your brand

On those days when you really can’t leave your desk, spend some time on your personal brand. Take a few minutes to browse LinkedIn and make sure your profile is up to date. LinkedIn is at its most powerful when you take the time to build relationships with others, so check out what your network is up to, send a congratulations message or two and share an article you think they might appreciate. If you’re ready to delve into thought leadership, familiarise yourself with LinkedIn’s publishing platform.

4. Strengthen your professional and personal relationships

Out of the office, use your lunch break to catch up with important contacts you know you’ll be unlikely to at night or on the weekends. Grab a coffee with an old mentor or swap some industry news with a peer over lunch. Maintaining these relationships will help to keep your finger on the pulse and put your face at the front of people’s minds when an opportunity arises, whatever it may be.

5. Do what you can’t do in the morning or evening

There are certain errands that you can only handle during business hours, such as visiting the bank or post office. Ticking one or two things off your personal to-do list during your lunch break will help to clear your mind for the afternoon, as your personal commitments won’t be building up on you. Don’t commit to too many errands on your break though or you’ll find yourself running around, stressing yourself out and defeating the purpose of a break. Ensure you leave yourself at least 15 minutes for a stress-free meal too.

By switching off from your work and concentrating on the things that stimulate your body and brain, you’ll come back to your afternoon refreshed and invigorated, without having wasted a second. Switch it up during the week, and by the weekend, you’ll have learned more, deepened a connection and you might even be looking forward to Monday!

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