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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 April 8, 2020

9 Tips for Starting a New Job and Succeeding in Your Career

9 Tips for Starting a New Job and Succeeding in Your Career

Congratulations, you’re starting a new job! You’re feeling relieved that the interviews and the wait for a decision from the hiring manager is over, and you’ve finally signed the offer.

Feelings of fear and anticipation may surface now as you think about starting work on Monday. Or you may feel really confident if you have plenty of work experience.

Remember to not assume that your new work environment will be similar to previous ones. It’s very common for seasoned professionals to overestimate themselves due to the breadth of their experience.

Companies offer different depths of on-boarding experiences.[1] Ultimately, success in your career depends on you.

Below are 9 tips for starting a new job and succeeding in your career.

1. Your Work Starts Before Your First Day

When you prepared for your interview, you likely did some research about the company. Now it’s time to go more in depth.

  • How would your manager like you to prepare for your first day? What are his/her expectations?
  • What other information can your manager provide so that you can start learning more about the role or company?
  • What company policies or reports can you review that can get you acclimatized to your new job and work environment?

You’ll need to embrace a lot of new people and information when you start your new job. What you learn before your first day at work can help you feel more grounded and prepare your mind to process new information.

2. Know Your Role and the Organization

Review the job posting and know your responsibilities. Sometimes, job postings are simplified versions of the job description. Ask your manager or human resources if there is a detailed job description of your role.

Once you understand your key responsibilities and accountabilities, ask yourself:

  • What questions do you have about the role?
  • What information do you need to do your job effectively?
  • Who do you need to meet and start building relationships with?

Continue to increase your knowledge and do your research through the company Intranet site, organizational charts, the media, LinkedIn profiles, the industry and who your company competitors are.

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This is not a one time event. Continue to do this throughout your time with the company. Every team or project you engage with will evolve and change.

Keep current and be ready to adapt by using your observational skills to be aware of changes to your work environment and people’s behaviour.

3. Learn the Unwritten Rules at Work

Understanding your work culture is key to help you succeed in your career.

Many of these unwritten rules will not be listed on company policies. This means you’ll need to use all of your senses to observe the environment and the people within it.

What should you wear? See what your peers and leaders are wearing. Notice everything from their jewelry down to their shoes. Once you have a good idea of the dress code you can then infuse your own style.

What are your hours of work? What do you notice about start, break and end times? Are your observations different from what you learned at the interview? What questions do you have based on your observations? Asking for clarity will help you make informed decisions and thrive in a new work setting.

What are the main communication channels?[2] What communication mediums do people use (phone, email, in-person, video)? Does the medium change in different work situations? What is your manager’s communication style and preference? These observations will help you better navigate your work environment and thrive in the workplace.

4. Be Mindful of Your Assumptions

You got the job, you’re feeling confident and are eager to show how you can contribute. Check the type of language you are using when you’re approaching your work and sharing your experiences.

I’ve heard many new employees say:

  • “I used to do this at ‘X’ company …”
  • “When I worked at “X” company we implemented this really effective process …”
  • “We did this at my other company … how come you guys are not …”
  • “Why are you doing that … we used to do this …”

People usually don’t want to hear about your past company. The experiences that you had in the past are different in this new environment.

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Remember to:

  • Notice your assumptions
  • Focus on your own work
  • Ask questions, and
  • Learn more about the situation before offering suggestions.

You can then better position yourself as a trusted resource that makes informed decisions tailored to business needs.

5. Ask Questions and Seek Clarification

Contrary to common belief, asking questions when you’re starting a new job is not a vulnerability.

Asking relevant questions related to your job and the company:

  • Helps you clarify expectations
  • Shows that you’ve done your research
  • Demonstrates your initiative to learn

Seeking to clarify and understand your environment and the people within it will help you become more effective at your job.

6. Set Clear Expectations to Develop Your Personal Brand

Starting a new job is the perfect time to set clear expectations with your manager and colleagues. Your actions and behaviors at work tells others about your work style and how you like to operate. So it’s essential to get clear on what feels natural to you at work and ensure that your own values are aligned with your work actions.

Here are a few questions to reflect on so that you can clearly articulate your intentions and follow through with consistent actions:

Where do you need to set expectations? Reflect on lessons learned from your previous work experiences. What types of expectations do you need to set so that you can succeed?

Why are you setting these expectations? You’ll likely need to provide context and justify why you’re setting these boundaries. Are your expectations reasonable? What are the impacts on the business?

What are your values? If you value work life balance, but you’re answering emails on weekends and during your vacation time, people will continue to expect this from you. What boundaries do you need to set for yourself at work?

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What do you want to be known for? This question requires some deep reflection. Do you want to be known as a leader who develops and empowers others? Maybe you want to be known for someone who creates an environment of respect where everyone can openly share ideas. Or maybe you want to be someone who challenges people to get outside their comfort zones?

7. Manage Up, Down, and Across

Understanding the work styles of those around you is key to a successful career. Particularly how you communicate and interact with your immediate manager.

Here are a few key questions to consider:

  • How can you make your manager’s job easier?
  • What can you do to anticipate her/his needs?
  • How can you keep them informed (and prepared) so they don’t get caught off-guard?
  • What are your strengths? How can you communicate these to him/her so that they fully understand your capabilities?

These questions can also apply if you manage a team or if you deal with multiple stakeholders.

8. Build Relationships Throughout the Company

It’s important to keep learning from diverse groups and individuals within the company. You’ll get different perspectives about the organization and others may be able to help you succeed in your role.

What types of relationships do you need to build? Why are you building this relationship?

Here are some examples of workplace relationships:

  • Immediate Manager. He/she controls your work assignments. The work can shape the success of your career.
  • Mentors. These are people who are knowledgeable about their field and the company. They are willing to share their experiences with you to help you navigate the workplace and even your career.
  • Direct Reports. Your staff can influence how successful you are at meeting your goals.
  • Mentees. They are another resource to help you keep informed about the organization and your opportunity to develop others.

Other workplace relationships include team members, stakeholders, or strategic partners/sponsors that will advocate for your work.

Learn more in this article: 10 Ways to Build Positive And Effective Work Relationships

9. Keep in Touch With Those in Your Existing Network

“Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” – Michelle Obama

You are part of an ecosystem that has gotten you to where you are today. Every single person and each moment that you have encountered with someone has shaped who you are – both positive and negative.

Here’s How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

Make sure you continue to nurture the relationships that you value and show gratitude to those who have helped you achieve your goals.

Summing It Up

There are many aspects of your career that you are in control of. Observe, listen, and make informed decisions. Career success depends on your actions.

Remember to not assume that your new work environment will be similar to previous ones.

Here are the 9 tips for starting a new job and succeeding in your career:

  1. Your Work Starts Before Your 1st Day
  2. Know Your Role and the Organization
  3. Learn the Unwritten Rules at Work
  4. Be Mindful of Your Assumptions
  5. Ask Questions and Seek Clarification
  6. Set Clear Expectations to Develop Your Personal Brand
  7. Manage Up, Down, and Across
  8. Build Relationships Throughout the Company
  9. Keep in Touch With Those in Your Existing Network

Celebrate, enjoy your new role, and take good care of yourself!

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Featured photo credit: Frank Romero via unsplash.com

Reference

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