“Ask not what you can do for you country. Ask what´s for lunch.”
I have only few principles I live by: never say sorry, listen to Wu-Tang regularly, exercise every weekday morning and never attribute your own behavior to apply to the target audience. One of the most important principles is however the following one:
Always have a lunch break.
“A man may be a pessimistic determinist before lunch and an optimistic believer in the will’s freedom after it.”
I always find a slot in my calendar to go out and eat a proper lunch. That is something you should never skip, even how busy you think you are. It is not that much about physical need of energy, the lunch break is a really one of the only opportunities to recharge your batteries during workday.
“Even when I am writing I usually take a break around lunchtime and go for a little walk to clear out my head.”
Here are four ways on how I make my lunch break a sacred moment every weekday:
1. Lunch should never be eaten at your desk.
First, take-away food is disgrace to the chef. Food should to be eaten where it is made. Also walking to restaurant and back is a good exercise in the middle of the day.
If you spend majority of your time by your desk, you will eventually end up crazy like William Foster (great Michael Douglas) in Falling Down. He snapped already during breakfast time. It is also an illusion that eating your lunch at your desk is that much more effective. On worst case, you might spill something on your keyboard.
2. Lunch should always last minimum of 30 minutes
It is not called break without reason.
Brain is a muscle; you have to give it a rest once in a while so you can keep on pushing throughout the day. Usually people who do exceptionally long hours are the people who are not really using their brains that much. They disguise their lack of real work in meetings, planning meetings, meetings about meetings and meetings about meetings where you are planning meetings.
It is impossible come up with good ideas, if you are not giving your brain a rest. We spend already too much of our life captured to our uninspiring offices. Lunch break is our only opportunity to gather some outside stimulus to do a better job. I have never gotten a good idea in a formal meeting. I have gotten thousands of great ideas during the lunch break.
30 minutes is an absolute minimum, Three Martini lunch can last until dinnertime and beyond.
3. Lunch is the time for the banter
Working lunch is a contradiction in terms. It does not really work at all. They make actual work less effective and lunch less enjoyable. Lunch is great opportunity to get to know your colleagues and to talk about everything else than work. That might give new perspective to the actual work as well. I also try to meet people outside the agency to keep lunch conversations lively. If I happen to eat alone, I read a book. Regardless of with who I am (colleague, friend, wife or remote Paul Auster), I always get some new viewpoints during my lunch.
4. Try to test something new every week
People love routines and they make us dull persons. Trying new lunch joint is a great opportunity to take risks, go to the discomfort zone and have new experience in controlled setting. The worst thing that can happen is that you had a bad lunch. It is definitely safer way to bring some excitement to your life than wrestling with tigers.
So today when you think that you are too busy to have a proper lunch, think again. It might save your life.
“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”