Consider taking regularly scheduled long lunches and use the time to build your career. We call this the LUNCH CRUNCH. Just like crunches tone your midsection, use your lunchtime to tone your career. LUNCH CRUNCH examples include studying for a professional exam or standardized test for graduate school, working on business development, practicing your writing skills, or reading professional development books (like this one!).
Why do career toning at lunchtime?
First, your lunches are productive rather than wasted. Don’t spend your precious time shooting the bull with co-workers! Do something that builds your career. One motivated young employee used the LUNCH CRUNCH strategy to compile more than 3,000 vocabulary flash cards in order to ace the verbal section of the GRE. However, at least one day a week, have lunch with co-workers to build relationships and show that you’re not a complete wonk.
Second, the same hour that you would normally spend on the selected activity at home breaks up your day. You disrupt any job or task monotony, making your workday more enjoyable. You also allow your brain time to subconsciously analyze current problems or challenges. And by working on other tasks, you give your brain a contextual break so it’s energized and refreshed to tackle work issues after lunch.
Third, to crunch during lunch and still work the same number of hours you have to come in earlier and leave later. Your boss and colleagues will notice your early arrival and late departure and naturally think you’re working extra hard on your projects and tasks (see Maintain variability in your schedule and Stay an extra 15 minutes).
Fourth, you commit to spending this time in a way that develops your career. Long-term career building requires perseverance, and you need a commitment mechanism to do it effectively. Your efficiency will be higher working on professional development at lunch than doing it at 7pm after a long day at work. So set your office calendar to indicate you’re busy at lunch and get crunching!
The frequency of long lunches will depend on the nature and demands of your job, but the key is to make it a regularly scheduled event. Just like working out, the LUNCH CRUNCH will be effective only if you commit to it on a regular basis. We suggest once per week as a general rule.