The 10 Most Productive Ways to Spend Your Lunch Hour

By Jennifer Holder on 8 January 2015 1 comment

Lunch breaks are the most important breaks of the day. Taking regular breaks leads to productivity and can reduce stress and exhaustion. (See also: 11 Things You Can Do on Your Lunch Break to Change Your Life)

And even though lunch breaks are required by law for most employees, there's no law saying you have to spend them just eating! So check out this list of how to best spend your precious lunchtime respite.

1. Take a Nap

Thomas Edison napped. Winston Churchill napped. John D. Rockefeller napped. Research shows that naps will make you more productive and reduce stress. So if you have an hour lunch break and live nearby or are comfortable sleeping in a parking lot (a lot of my coworkers do this), take a nap and rest your mind!

2. Meditate

Like napping, mediation can alleviate stress and get your brain back to functioning. It will make you happier, help your concentration, and increase self-awareness. If you can't get away from the office, reserve a conference room with no windows and quietly meditate. Or try meditating at your desk.

3. Practice Yoga

And of course there's always yoga, which not only helps you relieve stress but can also tone your muscles. You can also ask your coworkers to join in by planning a yoga workout in the board room or asking if they want to go to a class together. This will help you rejuvenate your work day and bond.

4. Go for a Walk

If you work in a walkable neighborhood or close to a park, bring a pair of walking shoes and walk around during lunch. Again, see if a coworker wants to come, especially if you have one that you've been having trouble communicating with or if you need to work something out. Do not use this time to gossip — it will only make you more stressed.

5. Eat Together

Invite a coworker out to lunch. To save money, plan ahead of time and each of you can bring your own. Or if there is an issue between you two, this lunch can provide a chance for reconciliation. If you're a manager, invite your employee out to lunch and find out how they tick and how you can be more supportive.

6. Read

Explore your mind. Maybe there's a book you've been meaning to read or a trashy magazine you can't wait to crack open. Let your mind concentrate on something else for a few hours.

7. Learn

Spend your lunch break to learn something new — not necessarily something job related, but anything you want to learn. Try Khan Academy, Skillshare, Coursera or edX, or one of these other online learning resources.

8. Write

Writing down your thoughts can free your mind of something burdening, but it's also a chance to explore a different side of you. Maybe you've been itching to try your hand at writing poems, short stories, novels, or scripts. Or maybe you want to write for a blog or website in your spare time for extra money. Practicing written communication will help you succeed.

9. Listen

Spend your time listening to a podcast.

If none of these categories strike your fancy, Digital Trends has a great list of podcasts broken down by type.

10. Watch TV

Sometimes when I eat at my desk at work, I watch a television show. Although it's not necessarily educational, it is relaxing. I usually choose something from Netflix or on Hulu. It's just a good way to turn off my mind for 30 minutes to an hour.

If you want something educational or need a little inspiration, watch a TEDTalk. Keep in mind if you do this at work, make sure you put up a sign saying you're on lunch. You don't want your boss to think you're just watching television shows instead of working!

How do you spend your lunch hour? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture
MikeBow

I actually combine #4 Go For A Walk and #6 Read at the same time during lunch at a park about 5 minutes from work. I walk laps and listen to my favorite podcast of the day. Gets blood pumping in my legs AND brain! :)