Your Sad Desk Lunch Might Just Ruin Your Career
Work + Life Balance

Your Sad Desk Lunch Might Just Ruin Your Career

WE’RE CREATURES OF HABIT, BUT WE’RE SOCIAL CREATURES, TOO. HERE’S WHY SAD DESK LUNCH IS ACTUALLY A LOT SADDER THAN YOU THINK.

Especially on days where the lunch hour creeps up on us, it can be really tempting to just grab lunch from the fridge or to step out quickly, and then get back to work. This might not actually make us more productive, though, and could actually be hindering us. Here’s why. 

1. STEPPING AWAY FROM YOUR DESK FOR AT LEAST TEN MINUTES BOOSTS CREATIVITY

Our brains are not really designed to sit in front of a computer all day, comprehending spreadsheets and answering endless emails. Even if you’re not actively puzzling over a particularly confusing problem, staring at the screen, your brain is hard at work on a solution. If you step outside, take note of the weather, of sunlight patterns through leaves, or call a friend for a quick chat, you can “reset” your conscious mind and provide yourself a fresh perspective when you return.

2. OUR BRAINS LOVE VARIETY

Taking a real break from the work that you’re doing doesn’t just boost creativity and give you fresh perspective. A lunch break greater than half an hour gives you the chance to get interested in other conversations, think about other things, and de-stress. When you return to your desk tasks, it may be easier to focus.

We’re better at both helping and unifying each other when we know each other better, and when communication is natural, safe and easy. 

3. HUMANS ARE BAD AT MULTITASKING

There, I said it. Some of us are better at juggling tasks than others, but we have a really limited capacity to do several things well simultaneously. If you’re eating at your desk and answering emails, evaluating reports, or filtering data, you might not just be at risk of getting food in your keyboard. {click to tweet} You might be more likely to make a mistake, miscalculate a number, or send a message with a tone that says more about your potato salad than the email’s content. Sacrificing 40 minutes of productivity for clarity, attention and quality later is probably more efficient than the other way around.

4. YOU'RE NOT GOING TO NETWORK OR BOND WITH COWORKERS FROM BEHIND YOUR COMPUTER

The lunch hour is a time when many of us are likely to genuinely want a break from the desk. Conversations about work, industry, or completely unrelated topics can lead to connections, ideas, and solutions that would have never happened from separate offices or in a more formal setting. We recommend a couple of lunch hours per week having some face to face time with coworkers or other network connections, or a combination of the two.

5. TEAMS THAT HAVE LUNCH TOGETHER COULD FOSTER A COLLABORATIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT

We’re better at both helping and unifying each other when we know each other better, and when communication is natural, safe and easy. Having lunch together regularly, even with a team that boasts completely different roles in the workplace, can effectively protect the company culture and keep collaboration alive in the office.

Talking about families, shared interests, politics, and life goals in addition to work-related topics helps us see each other as whole, distinct people. We don’t have to agree on everything, but understanding our differences is beneficial. 

We believe in balance—between work and play, rest and productivity, proven solutions and innovation. The gains from walking away from your desk for lunch seem to outweigh the possible benefit of continued productivity by a whole lot. 

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Did you notice any major changes when you stopped eating at your desk?