One to grow on: Top 5 ways to spend your lunch hour

Make it a positive space for self-enrichment

What’s it going to be for lunch? You do have a lunch hour, don’t you? Or at least a lunch period?

Some people use their lunch time at work to catch up on errands and E-mails. Others actually eat their lunch. I find myself surfing the Net more often than not, during and after the time that I enjoy my food. But leave it to a Web site called Dumb Little Man to set us straight on the top 5 ways to spend your lunch hour that don’t involve anything illicit or illegal. These ideas would amount to the kind of power lunch so many of us desperately need in our cubicle-bound lives. Call this info fast cash for what ails you, working men and women.

1)      Got a full hour? Use it!

This is the perfect way to start the list. Thanks, Dumb Little Man. It may not take you a full hour to consume your lunch, but you should use the time allotted to you. Give your mind a break. Recharge. Get outside of the office. If you actually think that you’re too busy to take lunch, something is wrong with you or anyone else in the world who agrees. But it can easily be corrected. The world needs to siesta once in a while.

2)      Eat a balanced meal

This is a tough one, I know. Lunch is your energy boost for the rest of the afternoon, not coffee or sugary energy drinks. Go light if you want to stay alert in the afternoon, Dumb Little Man advises. Maybe even sneak in a snack a couple of hours after lunch. If you think you can imbibe some liquor and still power through work, think again. You want whole grains, fruits, veggies and lean meats (if you aren’t vegetarian).

3)      Get physical

And I don’t mean with a co-worker in the supply closet. I’m talking simple exercise. Stay loose and alert, manage your weight and kick stress to the curb. That’s easier said than done with a desk job, but there are ways to make it happen. If there’s a gym nearby, consider joining. If not – or if the thought of gym membership contracts give you hives – then consider taking a 15-minute walk. You may even be able to recruit your colleagues to join you, if you can stand to be around them. If you stare at a computer screen all day, give your eyes a break every hour. Stand up, stretch your arms and legs and roll your head. Two of my co-workers have mini-bikes under their desks. Pedal your way to health as you work!

4)      Expand your mind

Surfing the Web and reading magazines is sometimes necessary to give your mind a break. However, why not mix in something that can help further your career? Numerous medical experts have found that learning new things is good for the brain, so much so that it can even postpone the onset of things like Alzheimer’s disease. Study textbooks and other materials. It could inspire you to go back to school (if you’re able). It could even change your life.

5)      Expanded mind = Expanded career?

Some of us hate our jobs. It’s a fact. Why not plan your escape? Of course you must be careful not to violate company policies at your current place of employment (unless getting fired isn’t a problem for you). Spend your lunch hour outside the office, and if you have a laptop or smart phone, see what’s out there. If you’re expanding your talent base, you’ll be in a position for something better in no time at all. Just be patient and don’t give up. Determination is fast cash in your life’s account.

I like the “point system” suggested by Jeffrey Fox. Each day, try to score at least one point by either researching a new company, requesting an interview or following up via phone and/or in writing. If you’re in a position to do some sort of freelance work, your lunch hour is also a possible time. Just remember to keep it out of your current job and don’t tell anyone. So long as it doesn’t violate some non-compete clause you’ve signed, what’s the big deal anyway? It’s your time, and time is like fast cash. Just don’t spend it all in one cubicle.

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