We've all done it. Mindlessly munching away in our offices while we check emails, watch YouTube videos, or worse, use the time to catch up on work as we inhale the cold, soggy sandwich we threw together at 6am. While it's often easier to eat lunch at your desk, we all need a break from the routine sometimes. Indeed, here are 4 very good reasons to NOT eat lunch at your desk today.
1. You'll be more productive
While you may think that you're being more productive by working through your lunch break, studies have shown the opposite to be the case. According to John P. Trougakos, assistant management professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough, the act of concentration is like using a muscle: the brain becomes fatigued under constant use and in order to recover it needs a rest period.1 So, if you need to meet that deadline, it's much better to sit outside under a tree and listen to the birds sing for a while than stare down your computer screen in a duel to the death.
2. Hanging with co-workers is good for business
While some employees worry that chatting with co-workers will be seen as counter-productive to doing a good job, it turns out that hanging with your peers is not only good for you, but beneficial for a business's bottom line, too. Bank of America experimented with this idea by scheduling employees' lunch breaks together. So, what was the result? Savings of about $15 million across Bank of America and an estimated 23 per cent increase in performance.2 All profit considerations aside, talking with your co-workers can also reduce stress and lead to greater happiness on the job. So, invite your colleagues to dine with you, at least once in a while.
3. You'll be healthier and lose weight
Eating at your desk can be a habit that spills over into overeating and bad food choices like high-calorie snacks from the vending machine. The problem with eating at your desk is that you're not focused on the food, but rather on the task at hand. How many times have we absent-mindedly eaten something, only to wonder where it all went? By taking the time to really experience your food in a mindful state, you'll enjoy it more and be less vulnerable to unhealthy food cravings.
4. It's good for your back
Sitting at your desk all day can cause compression on the spine. By getting up and going for a walk during your lunch break, not only will your back thank you, but your other 360 joints and 640-plus muscles will too. While you're at it, you can even go the gym or do a quick yoga class to get those feel-good endorphins firing.
So, there you have it - 4 very good reasons to NOT eat lunch at your desk today. By the way, business lunches and client meetings don't count. The point is to actually take a break. Your body and mind will thank you for it with increased productivity.
1 'To stay on schedule, take a break', Phyllis Korkki, The New York Times, June 16, 2012
2 '5 ways to transform your business with social data', Jessica Lovejoy, Expert Access, November 8, 2013
This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Kathleen has a degree in marketing with over 10 years experience in the IT field as a database developer and web designer. As a freelance writer, Kathleen has written for several publications across Australia as well as for various business and hi-tech blogs online.