Let’s talk about going to lunch. How many times have you left the office and at the end of the day and thought, “I am starving to death because I didn’t get to lunch” or “I got a bag of chips out of the vending machine and that was lunch”? Well, let me tell you something. You need to take a lunch break. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, you need to take a lunch break. I have been teased about having never missed a meal and I have to say it’s true. I’m really big into my meals. I love to eat. I enjoy eating. I enjoy cooking. I always went to lunch. I would sometimes bring my lunch and sometimes I would go out. Occasionally, I would have to eat at my desk because of conference calls or you know, a meeting. I still ate lunch!
I just had a short period of time between one meeting in the next, but I always ate lunch because if you’re hangry you really can’t concentrate and get anything done. Most of the time I would actually leave my desk to go have lunch. We had a lunch room where I could eat. There was also a snack bar downstairs. I always had someplace I could go and have lunch. Sometimes I would just go to my car and drive around the block just to be gone. Just to get away from the office and what was going on. You really need to go to lunch and you really need to walk away. You think that you’re doing yourself a favor by working through lunch and getting more work done, but you know your blood sugar drops, you get hangry, you can’t think straight, and then you’re just working too hard without enough to show for it. The next thing you know, you are suffering from total burnout.
Soon after I became a supervisor, I had a boss several levels ahead of me, up the chain and she said, “Don’t ever go to lunch with your employees. I never go to lunch with my employees. Don’t do it.” Well. I thought I knew a little better and I had been friends with my employees, some of them for many years so I thought it was going to be fine. I can go to lunch with them. And I did. And what I learned was if I went with a group two, three, or four, and we always invited everyone, it was okay. That worked out pretty well. If I went to lunch with just one, maybe two people fairly consistently, at some point somebody made a fuss and it became a problem. So, learn from my mistakes. When you become a supervisor, especially if you’re a new supervisor and you are supervising people that were your friends and colleagues, don’t go to lunch with them! If you have a group three or more, it’s probably okay. But if it’s one on one and this person was your friend for a long time, don’t do it. Just don’t go to lunch with your employees unless it’s a group.
People think they’re going accomplish a lot more if they simply work through lunch and don’t take that break. That self-care happens not only at home, but also at the office. You need to take a lunch break, you need to walk away and you need escape from your desk. So nourish yourself, your body, your mind and your soul. Take that lunch break. I often would keep food in my desk like Chef Boyardee Ravioli, that I could heat up quickly and easily.
When people say, “Oh my gosh, I’m just so exhausted. I just didn’t even have time to eat today” or “I haven’t eaten all day”, I think they’re kind of crazy because it was a choice. We all have choices all day, every day. What we do, how we handle ourselves, how we compose ourselves are all choices. If you haven’t eaten all day, that was your choice not to eat. You could have had snacks in your desk. You could have left your desk and gone to lunch. We all have choices. Life is all about choices, all about decisions. So my three tips today, take a lunch break every single day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Don’t go to lunch with your employees. And self-care begins at home and should continues at work.