Many people eat lunch every single day of their food eating lives. It’s a great time to carb up on Cincinnati Chili, Soy Sauce Flavor Cheetos (#TastetheCheetah), and Sugar Free Gummi Bears. Yet many people (Read: You), could be utilizing their lunch better. That 25 minutes you spend eating Turkey Tetrazzini out of a can, can be spent doing something more productive than ordering a pouch of Chicken a la King from Amazon. You could be reading about how to make Chicken a la King, ordering a Build-A-Bear for your pen pal in the Amazon Rainforest, or finishing up that
bucket to-do list in time for your two year work anniversary.
It might seem like your downtime, but those half-hours add up. The time you spend on lunch is roughly five days a year. That’s five days you can spend doing big things while you’re microwaving your freeze dried meat bucket. With that said, here are five easy ways to maximize your lunch break.
1. Maximize Your Lunch Break: Make Something
Watch a YouTube tutorial about how to crochet, pick up some yarn and a crochet hook, and crochet yourself a visor for National Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Bring a small watercolor palette and some watercolor paper and put Monet to shame. Embroider a handkerchief for your grandma or stitch a feminist quote onto a pillowcase. Whatever it may be, using your hands and your creativity to make something can be incredibly satisfying and deeply relaxing.
2. Maximize Your Lunch Break: Journal
Put pen to paper and jot things down in that overpriced Moleskine journal you bought because it fit your “aesthetic” but, if we’re being honest here, hasn’t been used once. Stop typing on your computer, stop texting on your phone, and just write. With your hands. Not on a screen. You don’t have to be Allen Ginsberg or Ernest Hemingway to consider yourself a writer. Write about your frustrations, your hopes, your goals and maybe even some funny things that happened that day. It will give you something to look back on and could even help your iron out some workplace frustrations. Irritated by a coworker’s snide comment? Whip out your journal and write down the confident reply you wish you’d thought of in the spur of the moment. Chances are, you’ll be able to calm yourself down.
3. Maximize Your Lunch Break: Make a Personal Call
Set aside time to catch up with someone on the phone. Whether it’s an old friend, your partner, or a favorite relative, your loved ones would probably love (and perhaps even be surprised) to hear from you. Try coordinating with a friend who’s also at work and see if you can plan to take your lunch breaks during the same time, or maybe even catch them on their break or commute if you’re in different time zones.
4. Maximize Your Lunch Break: Make To-Do Lists
Get a piece of blank printer paper, fold it into fourths, and make four separate to-do lists. Now, these should be strictly personal and absolutely, 100% NOT work related; They can be anything from “Restaurants I want to try” to “Chores to get done” to “Appointments I need to make.” By writing everything out, you’ll finally be able to go to that new bar ‘Tequila Mockingbird,’ and maybe schedule that OB/GYN appointment you know you should have had 7 months ago. Write out everything you want or need to do and then pick one item from each list that you’re going to cross off by the end of the week.
5. Maximize Your Lunch Break: Educate Yo’ Self
Read a book. (If cracking a copy of War and Peace over your egg salad sandwich isn’t too appealing, try a collection of short stories or essays.) Close that BuzzFeed tab and give the New York Times a once-over. (Or you can peruse Jezebel. Jezebel counts.) Listen to that podcast your dad won’t stop emailing you about. (“It’s so educational, Megan! You’ll learn about the fall of the Ottoman Empire!”) Go down a Wikipedia hole. It’s easy to let the day go by without reading anything but Instagram captions if you aren’t actively attempting to expand your knowledge. Set aside the time to expose yourself to new ideas. Did you know blood donors in Sweden are sent a text message every time their blood is used to save a life?