Your lunch break should be a sacred time. A time when you can step away from your almighty computer and pay homage to the holy pantheon of delicious lunch foods.
Whether you're a worshiper of Sandwich or pay your dues to the Salad cult, your lunch break should be a time when you can unplug, clear your head of all work-related chaos, and get re-energized in preparation for the second half of the day.
Unfortunately, many of us are guilty of working through our lunch breaks. We sit there like zombies shoveling food into our faces with one hand, typing emails with the other. Other times, we skip lunch entirely.
To help inspire you to do something better with your lunch break, we've compiled this list:
14 Ways to Use Your Lunch Break
1) Work on a side project.
Something just for fun. Something that helps you relieve stress, not create more of it. Maybe that's writing for a personal blog. Or sketching. Or knitting.
Or Photoshopping a picture of your coworker's cat into a scene from Wizard of Oz.
2) Organize a "Lunch and Learn."
Book a conference room (or find some other communal space) and teach your coworkers something. Anything. It doesn't haven't be work-related.
You could teach them how to make gazpacho, for example.
Or you could teach them how to do VLOOKUPs in Excel.
Or you could teach them how to remove the background from a photo of a cat (or a photo of anything, really).
3) Find the most interesting person in your company ...
... and invite him or her to eat lunch with you.
Ask lots of question.
What are their day-to-day responsibilities like? How do they stay organized? What do they do to say motivated/interested/invested in their work?
4) Get the heck outside.
Weather permitting, go eat lunch outside. Bring a book and post up on a park bench, or organize a team picnic.
And depending on how much time you're able to take for your lunch break, you could always go for a walk or a run or a bike ride after you've finished eating.
5) Establish a Finer Things Club.
Yes, this one is straight out of The Office's playbook.
A Finer Things Club celebrates the "finer" things in life (art, music, poetry) "in a very civilized way."
If you have a penchant for finger sandwiches, herbal teas, and Vivaldi, this is the club for you. So, go find some like-minded coworkers and start making your lunch break a sophisticated affair.
6) Establish a club that mercilessly mocks the Finer Things Club.
Every yin has its yang.
If pizza and sports radio are more your speed, get a group together during your lunch break and start making fun of those nerds with their fancy little sandwiches (they sure are tasty, though).
7) Learn a new language.
One of the toughest aspects of learning a new language is finding time to practice on a consistent basis. By converting your lunch break into a dedicated "language learning" session, you can ensure that you're practicing about 30 minutes per day, five days per week.
FYI: The Duolingo app is a great free language learning tool. If you have some money to throw around, Rosetta Stone is another option.
8) Figure out how a new company might try to steal your company's business.
And get to work creating that new company -- within your company -- during your lunch break.
(Note: Some HubSpotters did this recently. The result? Leadin.)
9) Find a new job.
Definitely be discreet about it, but if you're unhappy at your current place of employment, your lunch break can be a great time to start searching for something new.
(Might we suggest perusing the marketing jobs board on Inbound.org?)
10) Two words: Office. Fort.
The ultimate team building exercise. (Image source: i.chzbgr.com)
11) Three more words: Helicopter. Obstacle. Course.
- Step 1: Buy a remote control helicopter from Amazon.com. (You can get one for less than $20.)
- Step 2: Gather up some office supplies and build an obstacle course. (Pro tip: Be sure to create a landing pad. It could be the top of a cardboard box, or a designated area on someone's desk.)
- Step 3: When your helicopter arrives, take turns piloting it through the course. (Bonus points for sticking a perfect landing.)
If flying a remote control helicopter doesn't help you relax on your lunch break, meditating might be more your speed.
Meditating can help reduce stress and improve concentration. From focusing on your breathing, to repeating a mantra, there are a bunch of different meditation styles out there.
For more information on what meditation is and how you can get started, check out the American Meditation Society website.
13) Call your parents, grandparents, or other loved ones you haven't talked to in a while.
Just remember to use good judgment. (I once called my grandma on my lunch break and she yelled at me and told me to get back to work.)
14) Challenge your neighboring office to a contest.
It's time to put your lunch money where your mouth is. Challenge the office next door to a friendly game of ping pong. Or Foosball. Or cornhole/bag toss.
Or have a spelling bee.
Regardless of the event you decide to compete in, the losing office has to buy lunch.
What are some other ideas for making lunch breaks better? Leave a comment below.