Think the Office Will Fall Apart in Your Absence? A Lunch Break Will Make You Think Again
Working around the clock is common these days. Late hours, emails from bed at 10 p.m., and lunch at desks is often normal. This working around the clock mentality has become so common in America that many workers feel their jobs will be in jeopardy if they take a vacation. The reasoning being: “I work all day long every day, how will the job ever survive without me?”
Newsflash: It will. Or the company you work for is doing something very, very wrong. And if you’re at all valued at the company (which I’m sure you are) then they’re not going to replace you if you leave for a week. Think how often you’ve said “I can’t believe it’s already Friday, this week has flown by.” Now picture your co-workers and boss saying that the week you’re lying on a tropical beach somewhere. They’ll probably barely notice you’re gone. Still, that’s easier to say than put into practice.
Maybe you’ve even convinced yourself you don’t need vacation. I’ll tell you straight: that kind of thinking is crazy.
So how can you start weaning yourself from the office and assuring yourself that all will be fine if you take a vacation?
Start taking lunch breaks.
If you don’t take already take a lunch most days – and running to the nearest fast food restaurant to get something to bring back to your desk to eat doesn’t count – you’re missing out on a prime point of rejuvenation each day that will make you a better employee.
Starting to eat lunch away from the office each day will also mentally begin to prepare you that the whole office won’t fall apart in the half-hour or hour you’re gone. (If hour lunches are allowed at your place of employment – take the whole hour whenever you can!) You’ll also start to realize that you’re more rejuvenated once you get back to the office and a more productive worker the rest of the day. Instead of hitting that sluggish point around 3pm, a lunch break will help your mind get fired up again to make it through the rest of the working day.
Here are likely excuses you’re thinking:
No one at my office takes lunch: Really, not one person? If you really think you will stick out like a sore thumb as the only one taking lunch breaks, start out with once a week and work your way up. Soon, no one will pay attention to you leaving for lunch.
My boss doesn’t allow it: Are you sure about that? Most bosses understand you need to eat and in this litigation-happy world my guess is most bosses would be scared to ban their employees from taking a proper lunch break. And if you’re an hourly employee, it’s illegal in many states to work while eating your lunch.
I don’t have time: This is an easy one – make time! If you truly don’t have time, analyze your day and figure out where you could streamline projects to find 30 minutes for lunch.
If I don’t take lunch, I can leave earlier: In my experience, employees always say this, but it never happens. You’ll either feel guilty leaving earlier than usual, even if you put in the time; or, if you’re used to working late, something inevitably will come up to prevent you from leaving early anyway. It’s one of the side effects of being a workaholic – you can always find something to work on.
I have meetings all day: Block out time on your calendar for lunch so coworkers don’t schedule meetings during that time.
Get Away From Your Work Space for Lunch
When taking a lunch, head outside the building into a courtyard or to a nearby coffee shop. Drive to work? Taking lunch in your car can be a good place to escape. You can turn on heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, lean the seat back, take out a good book or magazine, and escape work issues for 30-60 minutes. If you have no other option besides the employee break room, use it, just try not to get caught up in work conversations with other employees taking a break. Wearing headphones can help stem off conversations, even if you don’t have them on.
Where are your favorite places to go for lunch to get away from work for a little while?