Whether you work from home or in an office environment, the chances are that you feel some pressure to work through your lunch breaks, either because there’s no one else to hold down the fort, or because your colleagues are skipping lunch too. Yet, as studies have been proving for a fair few years, there’s strong evidence that lunch breaks have the power to be your most productive time of day, and that you’re therefore missing out on a great deal by pushing them to the side.
Experts have especially found time and again that individuals who take between 25 to 90 minutes for their lunch each day are far more productive, as well as enjoying significantly higher levels of job satisfaction. The reasons for this vary, but we’re going to consider just a few of the most common and factually based findings here to provide you with a valuable argument to return to the next time you consider just letting lunch pass you by.
A chance to refuel
At even a basic level, a lunch break that allows you to refuel with a proper meal rather than just snatched snacks is the best possible opportunity you have to maintain performance throughout the day. It can certainly help you to avoid the mid-afternoon slump where you’ll likely struggle to get things done otherwise. Taking a long enough lunch break that you can cook yourself something from scratch can especially help to provide lasting, and importantly healthy, energy that keeps you stronger for longer, especially if you opt for foods that are known to boost your brain like baked fish or fried oysters. Equally, meals like baked potatoes that are rich in slow-acting carbs can provide a satisfying finish and a slow release of energy that really does keep you going until the end. None of which would be possible if you simply grabbed a protein bar and kept right on working.
A chance to refresh
We’ve all experienced that cloying feeling of brain fog after staring at our computers for hours on end, haven’t we? Well, science says that happens because our brains have a focus limit that, when breached, prevents us from being able to see things clearly or stay on task. This is a large part of why individuals who skip their lunch breaks continually rank lower in the productivity stakes even though, technically speaking, they work for more hours in a day. The chance to step away from our computers and refresh especially enables us to come back to work challenges or projects with an entirely new outlook that, even if you’ve been hashing over something for hours, can help you to see a clear way through that you’ve been missing.
A chance to do some of your best thinking
Tieing directly into that last point, it’s also worth remembering that you’ll often have your best ideas the second you step away from a problem and think about something else. Writers have especially tapped into this benefit, and will often go for walks to break writer’s block or work through plot holes that they’ve otherwise struggled over for hours. Equally, as much as you might feel the need to keep on pushing if a project isn’t coming together, stepping away and trying your best not to think about it during even a short lunch break can see ideas that you’ve missed up until now coming to you organically. Get into the habit of a regular lunch break routine, and you may even come to find that this is the time of day when you have your best ideas and are, in a strange way, at your most productive.
A chance to find enjoyment
We don’t go to work to play, but we should still have fun in our jobs if we want to remain satisfied. Pushing past your working threshold and removing the enjoyment of breaks from your day can prevent that from happening, leaving us burnout and generally more unhappy. By comparison, lunch breaks that buy you time to do things you enjoy, whether that’s spending time with the kids if you’re at home or catching up on office gossip with your colleagues, can certainly add a much-needed element of fun that helps us to remain more positive, and ultimately remember how lucky we are to be doing what we do, wherever we do it.
Skipping your lunch break might buy you time, but it’s unlikely to make you more productive. Instead, boost your performance by prioritizing your lunch break at last.