“Step away from the sad desk salad.”
Business writer Alyssa Spatola recently published a piece that’s been getting a lot of attention – which seems surprising considering how basic the premise is. She explains that almost every day she eats a quick lunch at her work desk. “I voluntarily forgo my midday break — usually the only opportunity I have to walk around outside and see the sun — to respond to emails with one hand while gripping a burrito with the other.”
As any reader here can guess, Spatola isn’t alone. In fact, 65% of Americans eat lunch at their work station or skip the midday meal entirely, according to national surveys. It might seem like this is just a way of being hyper-productive. But a growing body of evidence shows that this isn’t smart. As she explains, “not utilizing your proper lunch break — that is, one spent away from your desk — actually decreases productivity and creativity and can hinder your sense of self-worth.”
Drawing on that research, Spatola challenged herself to take lunch away from her desk every day for a week to see what that simple business break is all about. Her verdict: “Turns out, it’s awesome.” Here are the guidelines she set out:
- Have a proper meal away from my desk and laptop to boost productivity.
- Go for a walk to reduce stress and improve mood.
- Visit a new environment — ideally with some green space — to increase creativity.
- Avoid work talk if possible, as this is intended to be a break from work.
Spatola also laid out her predictions beforehand so she could track where the outcome diverged from her assumptions – and where she might have been right. Here’s what she thought before the experiment:
“While I understood the benefits of taking a break, I thought it might be emotionally difficult to peel myself away from my desk and break the bad habit of sitting there for such long periods of time. I anticipated feeling guilty for leaving my fellow desk-lunch eaters to recharge outside the office. But I also predicted loving the freedom of changing my surroundings…”
Want to find out what happened? Read Spatola’s “DAILY DIARY”, along with images and videos from her experience, in the Huffington Post Business section.It might inspire you to consider this practice for yourself!