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12 Lunch Break Ideas That Increase Your Productivity

12 Lunch Break Ideas That Increase Your Productivity

If you want to increase your productivity, don’t skip your lunch break. Lunch is a great block of time that you have everyday, and if used incorrectly, it’s another hour you’ve wasted; however, if used right, it can give your life a boost. Check out these 12 lunch break ideas that will charge up your life every day.

1.  Work on a side gig.

Your lunch break can be a great time to get a jump on work outside of…work.

2.  Read about your industry.

If you want to dominate your next meeting, use your lunch break to brush up on your field. You can read articles about new technology, industry leaders, or future projections. After lunch, when your boss needs ideas or suggestions, you’ll have something to reference.

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3.  Brainstorm.

Do you have a mental block on your latest assignment? You should try brainstorming. Just take a few moments during your break to open your mind and write down every idea you have that’s related to your new project–no matter how implausible you think it is. A little brainstorming can lead you in amazing new directions

4.  Eat with coworkers.

It’s important to have good relationships with your coworkers, because they can make or break your work life. By bonding with your coworkers on a personal level you will feel more comfortable going to them for help or just a laugh, so grab a bite to eat and start bonding.

5.  Run errands.

If you need to pay bills, find a plumber, or get a quick hair cut, your lunch break is a great time to get that done. Plus, you free up some precious after work hours.

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6.  Burn off some steam.

Go for a walk, a run, or maybe go to the gym if you have time. Using your break to workout can help you come back refreshed and energized.

7.  Make phone calls.

One of the most productive things you can do at lunch is to make phone calls because you don’t have to waste any time driving anywhere. So go ahead, call your Mom, call an old friend, your partner, or return that phone call you’ve been dreading.

8.  Make plans.

Do you feel like your life is out of control?  If so, you can use your lunch break to make plans for the rest of the week. For example, on Monday you could plan out your dinners for the week, on Tuesday you could plan your weekend activities, on Wednesday you could plan your finances for the next week, on Thursday plan your schedule for the upcoming week, and on Friday try and tie up loose ends and plan for upcoming birthdays and celebrations of the people in your life.

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9.  Work on relationships.

If you want to feel more connected to your partner or children, take a few seconds out of you lunch break to send someone you care about a text, picture, or email.  It only takes a few seconds, but it can make you feel more connected to your loved ones.

10.  Social media time.

Spending a few minutes a day on social media can make you feel like you’re an active participant.  Try this: spend one minute on Facebook “liking” statuses, spend another minute on Twitter re-tweeting a couple tweets, then upload a picture to every social media account you have. Congrats! You’ve been on social media today.

11.  Fuel up.

Make sure you’re eating what you need to get through the afternoon.  If you need a quick burst of energy, eating fruit or drinking caffeine will get you through a couple hours, and if you’ve got a long day ahead, make sure you chow down on some protein.

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12.  Rest.

We all need a break at work sometimes, and lunch time is the perfect time to relax. Plus, taking some time to clear your mind can make you more productive after lunch.

Now, take a few seconds and think about what area of your life needs an increase of productivity. Then, find a quick activity that will impact that area of your life.  Stick to it, and you’ll be shocked at what your lunch break can do for your life.

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Kelsie Fannon

Kelsie is a journalist and writer who shares about productivity and money tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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