How To Use Your Lunch Hour Effectively

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When you have to leave bang on time to pick up your kids, or even half an hour early, you often find yourself working straight through your lunch break. But not only is it illegal for your boss not to give you a break, it’s precious time you can use! Find out how…

As working mums we often watch our colleagues head out of the door to cafes and pubs at midday, while we eat our packed lunches ‘al desko’ so we can continue working.

But taking a break is essential for your wellbeing, and often helps you return to work sharper and more productive than if you’d worked through.

If your job requires you to be on your feet, you need to give your legs a rest, and if you use a computer then your eyes need a few moments away from the screen.

Not only that, but your company is legally bound to give you a break of at least 20 minutes if you work for more than six hours in a row. Check your contract for your company’s policy and, if in doubt, ask your manager or take a look at the rules on working hours.

But don’t waste this precious nugget of time staring into your sandwich box…

Make the most of your lunch break

  • Vary your company – you don’t want to chat about work all day so alternate lunch alongside your co-workers with time by yourself, or with any friends or family in the area.
  • Catch up with correspondence – write thank-you cards, email photos to friends and family or log on to Facebook. This will save you time in the evening.
  • Shop for your kids’ clothes. They might not be there to try them on, but you can always take things back the next day. Without them in tow you’ll be able to rummage for good deals.
  • Take headphones to work and use your lunch break to watch that show on telly last night that you were too busy cooking to catch. (Make sure your company has enough bandwidth for you to stream shows online though, or you could crash the whole office!)
  • Use the break to get important tasks done such as trips to the bank, post office or pharmacy. But running around like Challenge Anneka won’t relax you, so make sure you limit these activities to one or two a week.
  • Kill two birds with one stone by calling a friend while walking round the block. Pre-arrange a time and day with a friend for a chinwag, and catch up on all the news while you get your fresh air and exercise.
  • Find out about local gyms, pools and exercise classes and nip out for a quick midday workout. Pools are often quiet at this time, and some gyms offer 45-minute lessons to give you time to get showered and changed before you head back to work.
  • Alternatively, get a bunch of colleagues involved and see if you can hire an aerobics or yoga teacher to come to you. Your company might even want to chip in with the cost.
  • Ask at local hairdressers and beauticians if they’ll offer your company a discount so you can fit a speedy haircut or manicure into the working day.