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8 Things Successful People Do During Their Lunch Breaks

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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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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