September 23, 2010
The lost art of taking lunch
In doing some research this week for a story on fighting burnout at the office, I came across a curious paradox: full-time employees who say they stay sane throughout the workweek by taking every last minute of their lunch hour, day after day after day.
[Photo by malias]
I'm not trying to be glib. It's just that after reading surveys like this and this, I'd come to believe that luxuriating over lunch during the workweek was nothing more than a quaint twentieth-century custom, a hangover from an era when workers weren't quite so worried about being replaced by someone more efficient and less costly.
Not so, said several employees I spoke to while writing my burnout busters story. Many swore by the rejuvenating powers of a lunch hour enjoyed to its fullest.
"Taking lunch is the one thing that keeps me sane during the workday," said an office manager I'll call Regina. "Humans were not made to sit at desks or stand on job sites for 8, 9, or 10 straight hours. You have to break up the day somehow. Otherwise, you could find yourself slumped over before it's even 2 o' clock."
Some workers told me they believed in relishing every last minute of their employer-given lunch break on principle alone.
"I'm a firm believer that if you get a full hour for lunch, you should use it every day, since most people work for 8 hours but are only paid for 7 of them," said a content editor I'll call Sam.
These lunch loyalists are not the only ones who feel this way. A website called The Energy Project launched a Take Back Your Lunch program this summer to encourage workers to step away from the desk midday in order to replenish the cerebral well. As a couple of lunch-hour enthusiasts told AOL's DimeCrunch earlier this month, breaking up the day with even a 30-minute lunch away from the desk increases their afternoon focus, energy, and productivity.
As someone who often prefers to power through the noon hour at my desk so that -- in theory, anyway -- I can knock off a tad earlier at the end of the day, this AOL post grabbed my waning, late-afternoon attention. Next workday, I plan to step away from the desk from 12 to 12:30 p.m. and see if doing so helps boost my afternoon output.
How about you? Are you one who lingers over their lunch hour, or you do you prefer to wolf down a sandwich at your desk while squinting over spreadsheets? Does the way you're paid -- hourly vs. salary -- have anything to do with your take on this midday, hour-long break? Do tell.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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