Smart Lunch Break Tips to Reclaim Your Evenings

No matter your industry, the pressure to get more done in less time is real. From meetings and emails to sales calls and weekly reports, productivity is key. How do you get everything done without having to camp out at the office? Simple: power lunches. Simplify your life by making the most of your lunch break.

Start with these four lunch break tips, and you’ll be midday multitasking like a pro in no time.

  1. Divide, Organize and Conquer

Everyone’s to-do list is cluttered with recurring “stuff,” so target those things right away. Break those tasks down by groups, then use your lunch break to chip away at them. Combine similar tasks like returning client emails and phone calls with following up on supplier quotes. Better yet, use your lunch hour to come up with your own workflow charts. They’ll help you keep things organized and running smoothly. Get a handle on these tasks over lunch and you’ll have fewer interruptions throughout the rest of your day.

  1. Learn and Learn

Keeping up with what’s happening in your industry is a smart move, but you don’t need to burn the midnight oil online or take night classes to do it. Give yourself an edge by dedicating your lunch hour to researching trends, forecasts and competitors in your industry. You can also check your local Chamber of Commerce or nearby colleges to see if they have “lunch and learn” events. There, you’ll learn best practices in your industry and enjoy a good meal. Many networking organizations offer lunch options, too. Creating and leveraging a peer network is a wise professional investment.

  1. Combine Business and Pleasure

Back-to-back meetings can get old fast, and sinking into that afternoon slump can put you way behind. Mix up your day by taking meetings out of the office. Lunch meetings can help win over a potential client or show appreciation for an existing one — and they’re not just helpful for clients. Lunch meetings with colleagues can be just the change of pace your team needs to boost creativity and build rapport.

  1. Get Personal

It’s no secret that a long workday can leave you desperate to get home and become one with your couch, but for most people, clocking out doesn’t mean the end of the day. It just means shifting gears to handle the slew of personal tasks clamoring for your attention. Knock them out over lunch and save your well-earned downtime. Here’s how:

  • Make all those annoying calls you’ve been avoiding. You know the ones — your landlord, the cable provider, the doctor’s office … Grab your headset and cross them off your list.
  • Get a quick workout in. According to Harvard Health, even a 10- to 15-minute burst of activity has great health benefits. Take the stairs or go for a brisk walk. If you’re feeling ambitious, invest in a stability ball, a set of travel weights or resistance bands.
  • Need to grab a small gift or flowers on your way home? Do it at lunch instead. Spending the afternoon with them on your desk may both improve your mood and charm your coworkers.
  • Get your dinner fixings over lunch so you don’t have to shop while you’re tired and hungry. You’ll be better equipped to resist the 2-for-$5 ice cream sale. Plus, you’ll avoid that after-five rush and the poor souls who didn’t take advantage of their lunch break.

You can use these lunch break tips to manage tasks, enrich yourself, rejuvenate your team and run errands — and still get home for the six o’clock news. Believe it or not, lunchtime can actually be the most productive part of your day. All it takes is a little inspiration.

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