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How To Change Your Life During Your Lunch Break

How To Change Your Life During Your Lunch Break

For many of us, the average weekday goes something like this: fight traffic or mass transit delays to get into work, make small-talk with co-workers, settle in for a few hours of productivity, grab a quick lunch out of the office (or eat solo at your desk while watching YouTube), work some more, leave work, and repeat until you retire or die at your desk.

Okay, maybe that’s a little grim. Hopefully, you’re actually really kicking butt and taking names in your career, while endearing yourself to your co-workers with hilarious anecdotes about your weekend adventures. However, if you’re not taking full advantage of your midday hour-long break, you’re missing out.

Lunchtime is truly your best time to make meaningful progress in any area of your life because it offers some flexibility in your daily routine. By the end of the day, people generally have important plans to spend time with friends or family, hit the gym, or binge-watch Netflix. While those are all important parts of life that help us maintain balance, there’s little room left for self-improvement.

Your lunch break is your opportunity to fit a little something extra into your life. Here are a few ways to take control of your life, one lunch hour at a time.

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1. Hone an interesting skill.

Have you always wanted to learn to code or speak Spanish? What if you spent 45 minutes, 5 days a week, working on that new skill? Imagine the progress you could make.

Even better, send out an email inviting co-workers to start a learning group together. Commit to a “brown bag” lunch where each of you brings your lunch and signs up for a course. There are free and paid online courses to teach almost every skill imaginable, and learning with others keeps you accountable.

If you get stuck, co-workers can be a great resource as guest experts. For instance, if you’re trying to learn code, invite the IT person (or programmer) over one day to help your group get over a hump. If you want to learn Spanish, invite a Spanish-speaking co-worker to chat for an hour and correct the group’s pronunciation errors. This will allow you to socialize with co-workers and maybe even develop skills that can boost your career trajectory.

2. Reconnect with old friends.

For many of us, when we get busy or stressed out, the first thing to fall to the wayside are our relationships. We say to ourselves, “I can give them a call next week”, or “I’ll answer that email later.” However, more often than not, time keeps speeding by and it’s been too long since we’ve seen or talked with our non-work friends.

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Your lunch hour is the perfect time to catch up with people you care about, be it your college roommate or your mother who’s left you seven messages this week alone. Talking to people outside of the office will remind you that you’re more than an employee. Not to mention, it will ensure your relationships remain strong and you have the support you need during tough times.

Plus, it’s just fun to laugh about old times with friends. Laughter will always make your day better.

3. Develop a 30-minute exercise routine.

No matter what shape you are in, a little midday workout can really impact your day. The exercise can range from a brisk walk to a full strength-training routine (depending on the availability of a nearby gym). If there’s nothing close-by, ask your supervisor if you can use the conference room or another vacant space.

Terrific free resources, such as Fitness Blender videos, exist to help you fit in a great short workout with zero equipment. Just 30 minutes a day allows you to accomplish the entire 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity recommended each week (5×30=150). Plus, it still leaves you time to freshen up before heading back to work.

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4. Create something. Anything.

These days, there is so much to consume that we often forego the thrill of creating. Why cook when we can eat out? Why write when we can scroll through Buzzfeed or the New York Times? However, the act of crafting something can boost your ability to think outside the box and inject more positivity and originality into your life as a whole.

The act can be purposeful (following a specific pattern to knit a scarf), or meandering (doodling on a napkin). It can be ambitious (write the first few pages of a novel!), or smaller in scale (keep one of the increasingly popular adult coloring books in your desk drawer).

Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. No one expects you to recreate the Sistine Chapel at your desk. Doing something creative is just an exercise to help you relax and clear out any cobwebs that might be building in parts of your brain you’re not used to using.

5. Nap.

Never underestimate the power of a cat nap, especially if a particularly stressful week has left you sleep-deprived or overworked. A quick lunchtime snooze might be the best thing you can do with your time.

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Research shows that a 45 to 60 minute nap boosts brain power in areas like memory and learning ability. What’s more, the ideal time period to take a nap is between 1-3PM (a.k.a. lunchtime). You might be surprised how well this shut-eye prepares you for the rest of your day. While everyone else is pouring their third cup of coffee in the mid-afternoon, you’ll be rejuvenated and ready to go.

Depending on how easily you can fall asleep in strange places, it might take a while for you to be comfortable using your keyboard as a pillow. Follow these 7 steps to take a perfect nap every day. If your boss protests, explain that napping is proven to improve concentration, alertness, and productivity. It also eliminates afternoon lethargy and gets your whole day back on track. If they would still prefer you to not sleep in the office, you can always take a nap in your car.

Conclusion

Simple changes to your routine can do amazing things for your mind, body, and soul. Just remember, your actual job productivity should not suffer. After all, the purpose of these activities is to make you better, not hold you back. You might have to give up eating at your favorite diner and switch to bagged lunches to make everything fit in your hour, but the rewards are well worth it!

What are some easy, but life-changing activities you can do during your lunch hour? Share in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: pascalmwiemers via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

If you’re going to spend 1/3 of our life at work, you should enjoy it, right?

Trust me, I know that’s easier said than done. Difficult coworkers, less-than-desirable tasks, or even just being in the wrong position can all lead to a lack of enjoyment and fulfillment in your work.

But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way? Or better yet, if you struggle with all of the above (and then some), what if I told you that enjoying your work and finding fulfillment regardless of those obstacles is possible?

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you because I was there too. Before implementing the tips below, I struggled to get through each day, much less find real fulfillment, in the office. Now, even after the toughest days on the job, I still come away with feelings of pride, accomplishment, and fulfillment. The best news is, so can you.

If you’re ready to make those hours count and find happiness and fulfillment in the office, then read on to find out how to be happy at work and find fulfillment in your career:

1. Discover the root(s) of the problem

For this first step, we’ll need to think back to 8th-grade physics (humor me). We all know Newton’s 3rd law, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When you think about it, the same can be said outside of physics, and we see this law play out in our daily lives, day after day.

Simply put, all the issues we deal with in the office (and life in general) affect us in a noticeable way.

If you’re appreciated at work, like the work you do and receive frequent praise, promotions, or raises, then this will probably have an altogether positive effect on your life in the office.

But what if we reverse this? What if you feel under appreciated, get passed up for promotions, or get denied raises? This is sure to affect the way you feel at work on a negative level.

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So, before you can implement the steps of feeling happy and fulfilled at work, we first have to discover the reasons why you don’t feel that way already.

Think about it, write a list, or make a mental note. Run through all the reasons you’re dissatisfied in the office, and don’t hold back. Knowing the exact obstacles you’re facing will make overcoming them that much easier.

In fact, as a side-challenge to this article, I recommend picking the top three reasons contributing to your dissatisfaction at work and using the following tips to tackle them.

2. Practice gratitude for an instant uplift

Did you know the simple act of feeling grateful can increase your happiness and make you more fulfilled at work?[1]

Well, it’s true, and it’s scientifically proven.

Dr. Lisa Firestone notes that practicing gratitude “reminds us of what we lacked in the past.” Meaning, it serves as both a boost to happiness and a bit of a wake-up call that things have been or could be, much worse.

Trying to conjure up feelings of gratitude can seem almost impossible when your work situation seems bleak, but hear me out: There are incredibly easy ways to get started and it doesn’t involve trying to “force” yourself to feel grateful about things that stress you out.

For an instant pick-me-up, try this:

Find a loose piece of paper, a blank sticky note, or anything you can write on, be it physical or digital. List just three things that you are absolutely without-a-doubt thankful for in your life.

Now here’s the trick: Don’t just list what you’re grateful for, you have to list why you’re grateful for them, too.

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For example, simply saying “I’m grateful for my kids” will probably make you feel good, sure, but what if we could amplify the warm, fuzzy feeling into real, lasting motivation?

Instead, write the reason you’re so thankful for your children. Is it because they make you laugh and forget about other stressors? Or maybe they help to remind you of why you go to work every day in the first place?

Whatever your reasons may be, jot them down and keep your list somewhere you can see it while you work. A quick glance at your gratitude list throughout the day can provide powerful, positive motivation to keep going.

Bonus:

If you can find just three things to be thankful for that specifically relate to your job, and list why those things make you grateful, your list can also help you find fulfillment in your work itself which can give you an even bigger boost of positivity throughout the day.

3. Take meaningful time for yourself

We all know creating a strong work-life balance can be crucial to feeling satisfied in our jobs, but rarely do we ever address how we’re spending our time outside of work.

Many of us survive a 9-hour work day and commute home only to find ourselves busy with our personal to-do lists, running a household, and taking care of a child (or 2 or 3, and so on).

If you spend all your time working, whether in the office or within your household, you’re going to feel drained at some point. This is why setting meaningful time for yourself every day is highly important.

Look, I get it: I don’t know anyone in the working world who can shun all responsibility for a 3-movie marathon or happy hour with friends whenever they feel like it. But finding time for yourself, be it just 30 minutes to an hour, can really make a difference in how you feel at work.

This works because you’ll have time to actually relax and let the day’s stress melt away while you enjoy something just for you. The to-do lists and stressors will still be there after you’re refreshed and ready to tackle them.

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No time for me-time? Try this:

If you have a busy household, you’ll need to capitalize on a block of time you know will be completely uninterrupted. The easiest way to do this: try waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier than usual (or push bedtime back an hour if you’re a night owl, like me) and take time to do something you enjoy.

This could be reading with a cup of tea, catching up on Facebook, spending time on a passion project—anything! As long as it’s meaningful to you, it works!

Bonus:

Starting your day with meaningful time for yourself can set you up to have a positive mood that lasts well into office hours, and having your me-time in the evening can give you something positive to look forward to during the day.

4. Get productive and feel accomplished

Don’t you just love the feeling of checking the last item off of a hefty to-do list? That’s because self-motivation can be a huge driver of positivity and success.

When we accomplish something, no matter how small, it makes us feel good, plain and simple. Applying this tactic to your daily work can be the motivator you need to find fulfillment during the daily office grind.

While there are tons of steps to get more done at work, I’ll share my personal favorite: Prioritizing.

Now, many people handle prioritizing differently. Some like to tackle the little tasks first so they can spend focused time on the big to-dos. Others like to knock out the big items first and get to the smaller ones when they can.

No matter which camp you’re in, you may be missing one crucial step: Time management.

So how’s this work? When you factor in the amount of time your priorities will take, it can transform your productivity ten-fold.

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Say you have three top priorities for the day. You might jump into the smaller ones or the bigger ones depending on your preferred method, and then find yourself out of time and bringing work home with you at the end of the day.

This is prevented when you factor in time. Knowing how long each item will take, or deliberately setting specific blocks of time for your priorities can help you accomplish more in the same 8-9 (or 12) hours that you typically spend at work.

Try this:

Take a look at your priorities and consider how long they should take. Pop into your Google calendar (or Filofax, whatever works for you) and schedule time to work on your priority items around any important meetings or events of the day.

The most important thing to remember is to stick to your dedicated time.

Often, when we know exactly how long we have to work on something (and honor this time limit), we’re motivated to get more done on time to avoid taking work home at the end of the day.

The bottom line

There’s no need to waste 1/3 of our lives feeling unsatisfied at work. Luckily, you now have the tools to get started, take back your time, and become happy and fulfilled at work again.

The only question is — which tip will you try first?

Featured photo credit: Ellyot via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Psychology Today: The Healing Power of Gratitude

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