I have always loved lunch — a chance to enjoy a break with good food and friends. So why am I pretending that my daily dates with a Tupperware and my inbox are a proper lunch? This year, I set out to honor the midday meal and gave myself a new rule: no more eating at my desk.
So far it’s been a mix. It’s been more challenging than I imagined, but also more enlightening. While I haven’t been a perfect non-desk-eater in 2018, here are three reasons I will continue to step away from my desk to enjoy a bite.
Reason #1: Connect with a colleague
Welcome the break and embrace the social time a community lunch can provide. When you share a meal (or even just a table), you instantly have something in common with your colleague — no matter their department, tenure, or age. You’ll find that commonalities extend beyond food preferences and heat tolerances. Conversations that start with, “Wow, this is spicy!” can end up as “Remember Melissa McCarthy on SNL?”.
With old and new work-friends, take advantage of the distinct social time. Instead of chatting on Slack throughout the day, enjoy a lunch break together and catch up. Sometimes your personal conversations can turn out to be productive — they can spark new ideas and foster collaboration with colleagues. When you return to your desk, you can focus on work instead of watching the chats and pings come in throughout the day.
Reason #2: Try something new
Avoid the desk-lunch doldrums and try something new. In addition to a new dining venue and new conversations, stepping away from your desk will encourage you to try new foods. When I’m eating at my desk (alone), I tend to eat the same things: a salad from home, popcorn, or maybe Cup Noodles1.
Variety in my lunch life comes when we get office catering, and Top Ramen is quickly no longer the top option in my book. With catered lunches at the office, I have tried everything from Indian tacos to make-your-own Cuban bowls. I’ve had dishes I can’t pronounce and tried spicy foods I never thought I could handle. Taking a break from my desk and my mundane munchies refreshes my mindset. Trying new things can help you overcome fear and stimulate creativity.
Reason #3: Take an actual break
Yes, yes, everyone is very busy, but the most successful people take breaks — and you should too! Multitasking compromises your focus. When you eat and email, you can’t possibly give each activity the attention it deserves. Trade your robotic bites and scatterbrained emails for two distinct activities: an actual lunch followed by 15 minutes with your inbox.
I’m noticeably more focused when I return from a lunch break. The midday respite helps me avoid the perennial afternoon slump — one that I previously knew all too well. Leaving your desk and making this distinction will allow you to return to the work more refreshed and recharged.
Forget the buzz of work — even if it’s for 10 minutes — and focus on new conversations, new foods, and a new place to break in the middle of the day. So starting today, plan on stepping away from your desk for communal meals and look forward to a break in the day that fosters collaboration, increases your productivity, and improves your morale overall.
1Thank you to Cater2.me’s resident ramen expert, Margie for teaching me, that is, in fact, Cup Noodles not Cup of Noodles. Wow, still processing that one.