Making the Most of Your “Lunch Hour” Each and Every Day

Today, one of my co-workers was talking about his CPA exam and how he has one left to go to become an official CPA.  Definitely a hard test, and thank goodness that’s long behind me.  However, he was planning on taking it at the end of May.  Even though we are in busy season, I stopped and asked, what?  Why won’t you just put the 15-20 hours per week for the next 3 weeks and take the last part?!  It dawned on him, after I laid it out – taking advantage of the one hour that you pound food, talk about the weekend with your boys and about what you’re going to do after work on Saturday, each and every afternoon gets you NO WHERE.  If you want to accomplish things that you complain that you don’t have enough time for – make it a priority and take advantage of time, including that “lunch” hour.  I don’t necessarily believe in a lunch-hour, I merely think of – you have a day – you are expected to accomplish work, objectives/deadlines, but definitely should take breaks throughout the day to do other things, etc.. but get your work done and in public accounting – be chargeable.  I digress…I then showed my co-worker this lunch hour can produce 5 hours, at least, per week of studying, not including an early morning and then weekend studying after work and on Sundays.  It finally hit him that accomplishing this goal is doable NOW instead of “maybe” LATER.  It made me want to write about how to make the most out of what we call the “Lunch Hour”.

making the most of your “lunch hour”

This really started to drive me after we were talking about what he can do with his lunch hour.  It made me think – how many actually are taking a full hour (obviously if you need to take a break, by all means take one) to sit in a room, eat their food, hang out with the co-workers (which don’t get me wrong is good bonding, but seeing them 70 hours a week is enough for me hahah), talk about their crazy nights (more than likely spending recklessly… haha) and talking smack.  Then I drilled down to the next thing – how many complain they aren’t making enough, aren’t getting ahead, talk about how “buried” they are with work, how they are behind and just all of these “wish” things.  I have a strong feeling the percentage of people that take a lunch hour, do actually talk and feel this way.  I am about to drop a statement – STOP TAKING THOSE DAMN LUNCH HOUR BREAKS!!!  Yes, stop, now, yesterday, tomorrow, STOP!  Here are a 5 suggestive ways to take advantage of your lunch hour and the benefits of doing so!  These advantages that could help bring the relationships tighter with those that you actually want, help save you money, increase your assets that produce cash flow in your pursuit to financial freedom and also can make you even healthier than you think!  See the advantages below.

Taking Advantage of your Lunch Hour #1

If you are falling behind in work and/or are constantly telling people all day how buried with work you are – take advantage of your lunch hour.  Write down 3 things you want to accomplish and get them done!  They can be completely off base with the current project in case you need to tend to another project, as well.  This is common in public accounting, when you are juggling 5-10 clients at once.  Guess what?  It’ll be a time with peace and quiet – because everyone else is away in the kitchen, talking about how many beers they drank the other night, talking about how someone sucks at their job and another talking about how they hate their job or their boss.  Rewind and repeat.  Guess what?  As they are dong that with their lunch hour, you are mighty and are powering through, completing your tasks, shrinking your to-do list, and you all of a sudden feel better.  You feel better your plate is finally palatable and isn’t thanksgiving in terms of work you have to get through.  It’s amazing, you should try it : )   What’s terrible about this – I am fairly certain in the office tomorrow, 85% of people are talking these exact things and aren’t doing a damn thing about it… well here is one way.

Taking advantage of your lunch hour #2

If you are already at a good place with work, don’t feel behind – then… drum roll… get ahead!  If you want to make your day shorter and/or be ahead of your task list, goals at work or projects – take the lunch hour to leap frog where you currently are.  Guess what?  Chances are your managers/boss’s will definitely notice it, see that you’ve made their life easier and can even take on more/high roles or even more challenging items.  Not to say this is a pure reason – but it can also help you come raise & bonus discussion time, which can help increase your income beyond what you normally would expect, simply because you are getting ahead, being more critical to your organization and are looking forward instead of behind.  Doesn’t this make sense?  Obviously, the more pure goal – to have more funds/cash flow to invest to reduce your time to being financially free : )  

Taking advantage of your lunch hour #3

How many of you have either said or have heard someone say – they don’t have time to research on investing.  That you don’t have time to create a budget or figure out how to lower your bills that are costing you more than you think.  OR that you don’t have much money every month, which can probably be correlated with how much you are spending on your lunches!  Here is  a great solution, to which I typically spend a breaking point or a portion of the so called “lunch hour” researching investments/reading articles, etc.. but you can use this as a time to pack a lunch and save money!  Then, if you really are complaining or mad at yourself for not researching, making a budget or finding ways to save – use the time that you used to spend and better yourself here.  I love it when I see individuals tackling their personal items that they’ve been wanting to do, to put themselves in a better position.  Because guess what – they usually have a better conscience to work with for the rest of the day, and the mood could be better (as it’s not weighing on the mind anymore).  Let’s make this lunch hour count everyone!  Uh oh – am I slowly saying this is similar to making every dollar count?  Very similar!

Taking advantage of your lunch hour #4

I am one to even begin complaining like crazy, especially during busy season, that I haven’t had enough/as much time to work out.  Well… guess what?  I am now going to stop complaining and I am going running during/as my break time.  It’s been amazing, especially because our office building has a gutted & vacant floor where people walk, so instead… I run.  It’s about 8-10 laps depending on who you talk to, that equals a mile.  So my weekdays and weekends in the office are now including my lunch hour or a break time to go running, usually a minimum of 12 laps and a maximum of 20.  This doesn’t take too much time, stops me from complaining and gets me back on the “in-shape” wagon.  Further – you can use this time to walk around, get cardio in, go to the gym if you are lucky and just do something that is physically bettering yourself, rather than complaining, throwing down Chinese food, an over priced latte and finishing it with a cookie.  Dayum!!

Taking advantage of your lunch hour #5

Have that friend or cousin you haven’t spoke to in a while?  Wanted to surprise your mom and/or your dad with a quick phone call or text message?  Haven’t set your auto-bill pay for everything?  OR looking for a piece of real estate to buy, but haven’t been able to find the time to do so?  Here is where the magic lunch hour can make a few of these small, but impactful, things happen.  I was literally at my desk the other day when everyone was eating and I thought – let me handle my mortgage servicing issue (as my mortgage servicer has been taking double payments without me asking), and boom, done.  Then, I still had thought about how long it’s been since I talked to Mom… everyone needs to keep their mom up to date, I don’t care who you are!!!  She didn’t answer, psh, but I send her a text message and she responded back shortly after, as she was working.  However, it felt nice knowing that I was able to “act” on wanting to fix a personal item and also, in a way, catching up briefly with my mom.

Conclusion

I know I’m a little intense at times, but I think it’s really about how precious your time is on this earth.  I think it’s about what we are choosing to do with our time, instead of just complaining about the situation we are in, watching time flicker out the window.  In the pursuit to financial freedom – this lunch hour has proven to me time, and time again, that it matters.  That every minute we have matters.  It’s about being the best person you can be and hopefully it is making others happy, while making you happy.  There has been a saying that I’ve been preaching lately and you cannot help someone to the utmost that you can, without truly ensuring you are taken care of.  What do you think of the time that you think you are getting away from work, only to catch yourself being surrounded by people that you may not really want to associate with, talking about which person you don’t like, how far behind you are and how bad you wish XYZ would happen?  I hope so bad that the advantages above outweigh that time that is currently being used in a negative manner.  Pumped to hear everyone’s thoughts on this and to see if you second guess yourself as you grab your jacket to grab that lunch : )  Talk soon!

-Lanny

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24 thoughts on “Making the Most of Your “Lunch Hour” Each and Every Day

  1. Nice article, I find pure lunch time with my colleagues just lost of time that I won’t get back in my life. I’m doing the #2 most of the day. I finish 45 min sooner at the end of the day and that way I have less traffic and more time in the evening. If I ever need to take a break from my job for my lunch, I’m doing some personal project.

    • FinTech –

      NICE. Yep, if you are in an industry/work environment that if you get your stuff done, and have put in the required # of hours – then get the heck out of there! In public accounting, terribly different, I typically will do something to either a) not stay late, b) avoid doing at home c) get ahead. I agree on the break – my breaks are actually fun things that progress on my other goals, typically. Love it.

      -Lanny

  2. There is definitely some benefit hanging out with co-workers during lunch. However lately I’ve been walking home (work close to home) to come back and do some SEO for Wallet Squirrel. Especially on Thursdays when I send out new posts. You can get a surprisingly lot done in a short amount of time.

    Plus the morning is when I’m most productive, so lunch is the last ditch effort to get some productive time out before I mentally crash. =)

    • Wallet Squirrel –

      Great to hear from you : ) Yes – I typically try to do something on any downtime to progress towards health, or a goal i.e. our site, investing, working out, getting more work finished to conclude better on the day, etc.

      Nice comment, appreciate it WS!

      -Lanny

  3. I have to disagree with you Lanny. Taking a lunch break is extremely important for your well-being long term. You shouldn’t and can’t be working all the freaking time. We all need a breather here and there to recharge. This is coming from someone who works at high tech. 😉

    • Being able to exercise or work on personal projects provides enough of a variation to call it a breather though … Or if you did continue working then he noted you could leave earlier. Or that working harder = higher likelihood of bonuses and promotions leading to FI faster. I can’t fault anything Lanny noted.

      Keep it up!

      • Life is more than just getting to FI (says someone who really wants to get there), it’s not worth a burnout or bad health because of stress/lack of sleep/too many activities.
        I’m going to agree with Tawcan on this one. Go out for lunch, do a walk, go to the gym, etc. you will be more productive when you get back (scientific fact actually)!

        • Cheesy –

          Appreciate the post, by the way. And yes – not all about FI. And my post was including all things in life – seeing those you love, working out, taking care of personal things, etc.. It’s about doing things that are impacting your life and doing something about it, as opposed to the other thing you can do – NOT do them : ) Love the comments here, today, for example – I went and set up my bills on my online account, in case I want to make extra payments there, sent my mom a few messages to see how she was doing, cranked out 100 pushups and updated my dividend income for this month so far. A great refresher and I didn’t have to do them tonight!

          -Lanny

      • Keenan –

        Yep – and this is the boat I fit in – doing things to progress towards your other goals – everything in a positive direction, something “beyond” unhealthy eating, complaining, talking about how you’re struggling and not doing something about it, etc.. Getting me pumped here!! Of course… saying this in a response after I worked a 14 hour day, it’s great… but I took a “break” today, to go for a 20 minute run. It was awesome and didn’t have to do it later on and got it out of my system. Appreciate the comment Keenan.

        -Lanny

    • Tawcan –

      YES! I need some debates here no doubt. I am going to say this – my “breaks” actually do feel like breaks because it’s something that could be a goal – i.e. connecting with some other friends over lunch to catch up (not necessarily co workers), run/walk around town to get exercise, breathe and see things; to work on the blog because in public accounting when you work 80 hours a week… with these damn SEC deadlines (this is the worst week at the moment haha, so apologize). To me, that is a break – you are working towards other things, but it shifts the mind, giving it a “break” from what you just did for x amount of hours straight. Obviously industries do play a huge part. Keep it coming!!

      -Lanny

  4. I like it!
    After we had a baby a year ago it felt like we had no time to do anything! We were falling slowly behind in everything around the house so I knew I had to make a change. Lunch hour is really one my more productive hours.
    I drive home (15mins) and work on house chores, pay bills, small errands. I can get so much done in 30 minutes that saves so much time at night. I can relax more and hang out with my family instead of worrying about dishes or dry cleaning.

    Great Article

    • SPDD –

      NICE!! This is a great piece of evidence here of making the most of a lunch break here. There’s nothing more better than the “hard” personal task that you get to wrap up before coming home from the day at work, it’s almost that “weekend” feeling, right? Also… can’t imagine with having a baby. Props!!!

      -Lanny

  5. Nice analysis here but unfortunately for some of us (me) I only get 30 minutes for my lunch break and more often than not I am working during it as my work load is quite heavy, just the type of job I have, I guess! But thanks for the write up, some really good points made here.

    • BHL –

      I definitely am seeing the diverse mix depending on type of employment and industry. If you are given a mandatory 30 minutes, then yep – you’re going to take it but then there is your caveat – more work they are piling so… dammit! That’s what I have to say here. Hmm…

      -Lanny

  6. As somebody who is taking their last CPA part in less than 3 weeks, has not opened the book, and does everything but study, I empathize for your coworker haha. This stuff is so boring to study for but it is necessary! I usually never take my full hour for lunch but I do take some time out of work to browse the internet and relax my mind away from work. Let’s hope I can buckle down for the next 3 weeks and get the studying out of the way so I can put this exam behind me!

    • Stefan –

      Love that you are in the heat of busy season + studying for the CPA. Every MINUTE counts right now for you, it’s amazing. I have been pushing one of our seniors to study in a room off to the side for a bit of timing during that period, gets away from work + accomplishes a goal of the exam being passed. Make it happen Stefan I/WE all have faith in you!!!!!

      -Lanny

  7. The lunch break is unpaid. Unpaid = no work. It’s that simple.
    You need time to calm down from the stress, reset your brain with some chill stuff. You can’t be running at 100% every minute you are awake.

    • Timbo –

      Thanks for your comment. Of course, it’s your time and you need to do what you want with it. What if calming down from the stress was finishing personal items? Or working out and clearing the mind on a run? Or talking on the phone with your grandmother to catch up? I think those would help you destress, right?

      -Lanny

  8. I don’t think this is the way to go. Warren Buffet famously only schedules a few meetings each week so that he can have plenty of free time. Some people never stop, do nothing, and just think. The people who are constantly “busy” tend to not actually be that productive.

    • Matty –

      Of course, I’m not talking about being busy just to be busy; also – I hate meetings haha. So to comment back – I would say – fill in your break with things that actually bring you joy, happiness and peace in mind. Not to bi*ch and complain about how bad everything is with co-workers, which still happens to be the majority… which maybe that’s just public accounting haha.

      -Lanny

  9. Love this post. I notice a lot of people hating on “doing work” during a lunch break but I agree with the perspective in this post- if you’re doing something to better yourself, whether study or read or write or whatever, I consider that a break from regular work. And you obviously can go at whatever speed/intensity you want that is comfortable during your break. Great post, keep em coming!

    • 4Pillar –

      Thanks for the support here. And I’ve been commenting not all at once for a reason – while everyone was on their lunch break today – I had scheduled out some items on my calendar for personal items, based on 4 things I wanted to do today (I wrote them yesterday) during this time period – I knocked them all out (e-mail clients back that I needed to, place calendar items, cash out credit card rewards & transfer to savings, texted a few loved ones). So, I am trying to reply with things that I personally have done instead of getting behind/staying in the same place/being negative. Tomorrow – I plan on answering/responding to comments during my lunch hour, reviewing blog articles and finding interesting reads. Appreciate it 4PF for understanding, I’ll keep ripping them out as fast as I’m able to!!! Talk soon.

      -Lanny

  10. I’m going to disagree with #1-especially if you’re paid hourly. Your lunch break is your time, not your company’s. They get enough of you the rest of the day. And if you’re hourly, then working on your lunch hour can get your employer in trouble.

    However, I am all for using lunch breaks for personal development or enrichment. I actually only take a half hour break because I’d prefer to leave at 4:30 vs 5, but still try to get extra done. Usually it is reading, since I am never happy with how many books I can read each year.

    • Jax –

      Nice and I appreciate the post. Honestly would love to come in, get at least my 8 hours in and be productive and if that means 3:30-4:30 to get out – would be awesome! I’ve come to realize now, that for me – doing some of those items b/w that 11:00 – 1:00pm range (not the whole time obviously), to take care of things helps dearly, as sometimes I can’t control everything that happens post that lunch time-span i.e. issues at work, something coming out of no where, etc.. Love that you are able to though and couldn’t agree more on books. I still have 2 I need to get through.

      -Lanny

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