Lunch Vacation: 5 Ways to Fully Enjoy Your Break


In today’s economy, more and more people are trying to save money and be more responsible with their finances. One of the easiest ways to do this is to bring a bag lunch to work instead of going out to eat.

Now, if you’re like me, you’d rather not spend your lunchtime gabbing with the office gossip goose or even worse, work through your lunch break. So, what other things are there to do?

Luckily, there are lots of options to help pass the time and make your lunch the relaxing mid-day break it’s supposed to be.

Take Your Mother’s Advice and Eat Something!

First and foremost… EAT SOMETHING! One of the worst things you can do is to skip a meal, especially during a work day. Skipping a meal can lead to lower blood sugar levels which will increase your stress and decrease your focus. So, don’t think you’re doing yourself any favors by skipping that soup, salad, or sandwich.

1. Watch TV

With two children at home under the age of 5, I rarely have time to watch my favorite T.V. shows on during their air times. Luckily, most major networks offer their shows online for free after they air.

Since a broadband connection is all but a given at most corporations, you’re able to view these shows with much of the same experience you would find at home.

Here are a few of my favorite locations to watch a good sitcom or drama:

2. Papercraft

Papercraft is a very popular form of model building, that typically includes printing a foldable pattern from a PDF or web site.

Below are a few examples of places to find some very creative and free models at all skill levels:

3. Learn a New Skill

There are millions of blogs and web sites devoted to tutorials and how-to articles. Many of these are free and are an excellent way to provide both entertainment and self-improvement.

Here are just a few examples of some tutorial based sites I visit on a regular basis. Most of these are design, web development or geek related – however you can easily find tutorial blogs and web sites on any subject imaginable by doing a simple Google search.

4. Work on a Side Project or Freelance

If you have a side project or do freelance work outside of your normal day job, the lunch hour is a great time to put in extra time during the day.

However, you must be careful not to violate any of your company policies or rules pertaining to using company equipment for personal use. I highly recommend talking to your HR department or referring to your employee manual on your company’s policies. Violating these terms can have grave consequences and usually include the words “…up to and including termination”.

In my experience, most companies are rather liberal with these rules as long as it doesn’t compete directly with their business. So openness and honesty is always the best answer.

If your company does prohibit the use of its equipment, you can always bring your personal laptop to work and use the free wi-fi connectivity found at most coffee shops or restaurants.

5. Join or Start a Book Club

Wait… What?… They actually still make books?!

Yes! Lunchtime reading is a great way to relax and pull your eyes away from the computer screen with some good old fashioned dead tree literature. Many offices I’ve worked at over the past few years have had at least one or two people who belong to a book club.

The lunch hour is a great time to meet and discuss your latest Nancy Drew or Tom Clancy novel, or just get ideas on what to read next.

How About You?

Obviously, these are just a few options to consider to make your lunch time that much more enjoyable… now, it’s your turn.


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In Addition to a Web Operations Manager for a b2b publishing company, Troy also works as a Freelance New Media Consultant and Web Developer. If you'd like to learn more, visit his blog at troypeterson.com or Follow Troy on twitter @tpeterson

Discussion

  1. Phil on the 21st October

    Hmmm. The majority of those seem to involve sitting at your desk, staring at a screen. Doesn’t sound like much of a break. How about getting down the gym or simply going for a walk or a sit in the park. I find whether I’m working at home or in the office, what I crave by lunchtime is some fresh air and a “mind break” (I don’t want to have to think about anything remotely important for an hour). That said, the papercraft idea sounds diverting enough. Will save that for tomorrow’s lunchtime.

  2. Nicole B on the 22nd October

    I definitely try to engage in a few of these….tutorials, freelance work and personal projects. At my company, people are free to take their lunch hour anytime they choose. This can range anywhere from 11:30 to 2:00. Since there is no set break time when everybody leaves, it is assumed you are working if you are at your desk. The problem I run in to is when I am at my desk, working on a personal project or just surfing the web on my lunch hour, and I get roped back into working. “Oh! You’re here! Here do this for me, it will only take a minute…”

    I’ve tried saying, “sorry I’m on my lunch hour” That doesn’t go over well. Its kinda like, “well, you’re here just do this real quick” and get they pissy if I don’t.

  3. Tanja on the 22nd October

    I agree with Phil! And, in addition to “Learn a new skill”: Grab a sketchbook and a pencil and scribble what you see while you sit in the park. But better take some kind of alarm with you :) scribbling may take you away for hours 😀

  4. Chase on the 22nd October

    The Gym is a great way to get out and get the blood flowing. It helps a lot especially when time is precious before and after work.

    What I find is also really good is to just eat outside if you can. In our office park they have tables outside and even getting out there to eat your lunch on a nice day can do wonders.

  5. Troy Peterson on the 22nd October

    @phil – Excellent addition! I can’t believe I missed that one. However, I’ve never been able to manage the lunch time workout. I tried it a few times, but working out instead of eating lunch always makes me exhausted (and starving!) by the end of the day :)

    @tanja – Ahh yes, a skill I wish I had more time to work on!

  6. foobar on the 22nd October

    Get out of the office, that’s the first thing…I go to the electronics store, look around, or find a park nearby or some hiking trails. 30-40 minutes of walking out in the open will do wonders — I’ve come up with many solutions to impediments I faced while out on my walks (forget about walking around the block, go drive to some hiking/nature trails).

    Lunch with co-workers is like extended work hours. Don’t do it! unless you really do enjoy the gossip, et. al.

  7. Vernocchi on the 22nd October

    There’s an error in the Papercraft section. Paper Critters links to CustomPaperToys. Should link to http://www.papercritters.com/
    Nice article though!

    • Troy Peterson on the 22nd October

      Thanks Vernocchi!
      The article is corrected now.

  8. Paul Sabaj on the 22nd October

    I find that all the things listed were great. I like to just take a walk to just sometimes get away from the phone and the email. I have always had a fast lunch and use the extra time to just take a break from the work.. Some times just having quiet time

  9. Zach on the 22nd October

    It boils down to what you consider ‘break activity’. Some people like to completely empty their mind and walk away from their computer. I’m personally more akin to switching my brain in a new direction. So if I’m working on some ideas in illustrator, I’ll take a break and tinker with some javascript. And vice-versa.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love goin outside for a walk, especially when I feel the light of the screen burning into my retinas, but I really just need to adjust thought processes.

    Coincidentally, I’m actually on my break right now, catching up on feeds through Google Reader (“workawesome” being one of those feeds)

    • Troy Peterson on the 22nd October

      I completely agree… just switching gears for a while is key.

  10. Sud on the 22nd October

    Well for me music does the trick…

  11. Web 2.0 on the 22nd October

    Well I just bookmarked this article as it contains lists of great stuff… Great work, thanks!

  12. Aurora on the 22nd October

    What an awesome post, thanks a lot! Those links are amazing, I think I’m going to have to get off my butt and start playing around a bit, hehe

  13. Trudy on the 24th October

    Thanks for the tutorial list. Another tip I do sometimes is to purchase a book on tape and just sit in your car and play the tape at lunch. You learn and relax.

  14. Nicole on the 27th October

    I agree with Zach! I think clearing your mind from ‘work’ is the key, no matter what it is you choose to do. Different people enjoy spending their free time in different ways. We also have to consider where we live. Taking a walk, going to a nearby gym, or having lunch in the park are all great ideas…however, if you live in northern Minnesota, those are not feasible options. It’s snowing here by the start of October, so finding something you can do without leaving the office can be a challenge. Going to the gym is really ambitious, but where do you find time in one single hour (less for many people), to walk or drive there, work out, shower, dress, eat lunch, then walk or drive back to work and unwind? Sounds complicated. Thanks for the great ideas Troy!

  15. Ara on the 9th November

    For me, I would rather do the normal habit, eating during break hours and resting. I find it very relaxing. My job is very hectic and fully loaded. Sometimes I don’t have much time to take a rest and its kinda exhausting. I can’t even have the time to take a nap huh! So as a result, I’ve searched for a solution to my problem. Bringing my own packed lunch is totally a good idea. I can save more and spend less and I don’t have to go out and leave my desk. I’m very glad with it. Recently I’ve found a very interesting, wonderful food stacking container which I’ve discovered at Happy Tiffin site The site offers high quality items of tiffin carriers/food stacking containers. I can say that its features and function is very astonishing. I would try it especially the newest product which is the insulated tiffin bag that can sustain the food’s quality/freshness. And what I mostly like about it is that its very portable and handy. I can bring it anywhere without difficulty. So if you’re looking for this kind of cool stuff just check the their site. 😉

  16. Jarod Online on the 13th December

    i like the TV one

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