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8 Things Successful People Do During Their Lunch Breaks

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8 Things Successful People Do During Their Lunch Breaks

Reaching the heights of success takes time. Fortunately, you can shorten the journey by making the best use of your lunch hour. If you’re like most people, then you have five hours per week that you can use to reach your goals faster. Read on to discover how to make the best use of your lunch hour to get ahead.

1. They leave the office

Physically leaving the office is a fundamental habit to making a good use of your lunch hour. Leaving the office gives you a break from distractions and an opportunity to refresh yourself. If you simply sit at your desk for lunch every day, you can expect managers and coworkers to ask you to do more work.

What about those times when you simply have to stay at the office? There are ways to work around that requirement (see the next tip).

2. They do a weekly review

Maintaining control and perspective over your life doesn’t have to be hard. That’s why successful people have mastered review habits. For example, you can review the past week’s sent emails during lunch to determine what follow up actions are needed. Alternately, you can review your calendar of appointments for the rest of the week. Both of these practices put you back in command of your time!

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Tip: To get started with the weekly review, read Why You Need A Weekly Review To Become More Productive.

3. They get exercise

Successful people know that exercise is vital to maintaining mental focus and health. Successful people get exercise during lunch in several ways, such as going to a fitness class, going for a walk and even putting in a few quick push-ups. Exercise is also a great way to cope with workplace stress. Some companies, like HBO, even offer yoga classes on site! Take the time to ask your HR department about the company’s wellness program–you don’t know what’s available until you ask.

4. They build career assets

Assets are resources that grow in value over time. For example, an income real estate property is an asset. You can also build career assets. Checklists are a resource that successful people regularly use to avoid mistakes and guarantee high quality (check out Learn How To Build A Checklist In 6 Steps). The time you invest to build a career asset will save you plenty of time in the future.

Here are other career assets you can build over your lunch hour:

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  • Standard Operating Procedures: a sequence of steps that explains how to do important parts of your job. These procedures can cover how to produce reports, your personal sales process and other aspects of your work.
  • Career Portfolio: a collection of documents (e.g. performance reviews, copies of emails from happy clients, PowerPoint presentation templates) that prove all of your skills and accomplishments.
  • Professional Contact List: write up a contact list (use a paper notebook or a spreadsheet to start with) of the 100 most important people in your career–include their name, title, company, phone number and email address. If you are laid off suddenly, you will need a copy of that information at home for reference.

5. They build relationships

Breaking bread and sharing a meal with another person is one of the best ways to build a relationship. Successful people know that meeting somebody once at an event is just the start of building a relationship. The next step is to spend more time with that person. Lunch is a great way to develop a relationship because people tend to open up about their lives and go beyond business concerns.

To learn more about networking and career advancement, read 9 Bulletproof Ways To Get Ahead in Your Career.

6. They eat for health, not entertainment

What you eat for lunch has a significant impact on your results. That’s why successful people tend to avoid pasta and other carb-heavy meals at lunch. To improve your energy and keep moving, eat almonds, walnuts and other foods for productivity. Relying on sugar to get you through the day is simply not effective. In addition, consider avoiding foods with strong smells or sauces during the work week–spilling food on yourself during the work day is frustrating!

Keep your eating for “entertainment”–desserts and the like–to the evenings and weekends. In fact, if you are trying to lose weight, try the slow carb diet.

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7. They run personal errands

Successful people understand the importance of staying focused at work. That’s why they avoid making personal phone calls during business hours (or leaving the office) as much as possible. However, we all know that life is full of pressures. For example, you may need to pick up prescriptions. One way to improve your productivity is to use a pharmacy nearby your office, so you can go there during your lunch break. To take this principle a step further, adapt Mike Hardy’s time chunking approach. For example, you could designate the Friday lunch hour for personal errands and reserve Monday lunch hours for professional growth.

Tip: Learn how to cut down on the time needed to perform chores by reading Hate Chores? Make Them Less Painful with These Tips.

8. They take a nap

Successful people understand the value of being well-rested. Entrepreneur Michael Hyatt has explained 5 reasons you should take a nap every day. Putting in a 20-30 minute nap does a great deal to increase your productivity and mental clarity. Specifically, napping has been shown to improve heart health and improve productivity.

Not sure where to take a nap? Look around if your company has a wellness room or a quiet room. Such rooms may serve as a useful nap location! As an alternative, look for a quiet office or a meeting room (though you run the risk of being “caught” napping).

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Tip: Learn How To Design The Perfect Nap if you’re just getting started with the napping habit.

Featured photo credit: Restaurant/Unsplash via pixabay.com

More by this author

Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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