9 Things You Can Actually Accomplish During Your Lunch Break

I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t take full advantage of my lunch hour. Chances are, you don’t either.

Research shows that only 1 in 5 people actually step away from their desks to eat a midday meal. That means most of us are probably guilty of consuming sad desk lunches — or even worse, sad desk salads — during the one opportunity to flee our office or workspace throughout the day. It also means we’re sacrificing the chance to untangle ourselves from whatever work-related tasks and responsibilities that are burdening us at the time, which isn’t just a disservice to ourselves, but also to our employers.

The reason? Studies show that our creativity can suffer if we stay in the same environment for too long. So taking a break (or at the very least, refocusing or shifting your energy midday) isn’t just beneficial for you personally. It can also help you become more productive upon your return.

That’s why we’re challenging you to shut down your work email and shift your productivity midday, whether you have 20 minutes or a full hour. To help you make the most of your lunch break, we’ve partnered with Del Monte® Fruit Refreshers™ — the convenient, refreshing snack of luscious chunks of fruit and delicious fruit water you can take on-the-go! — to share Bustle readers’ most productive lunch break rituals.

1. I Schedule Appointments, And — Gasp! — Even Job Interviews

“I try to make my lunch time productive, whether by catching up on miscellaneous tasks like going to the drugstore, or by doing some shopping. I also like to clean out my email inboxes and update my calendar to keep myself organized. I'll occasionally fit in a doctor's appointment, or more recently, schedule job interviews. By scheduling said activities during my lunch break, I'm free to actually enjoy my evenings with one less thing on my 'To Do' list.” — Laura, 26

2. I Call Loved Ones

“I usually call my parents and catch up with them while taking a walk for maybe 10 or so blocks. That way, I can also get in some form of activity since I sit at my desk all day!” — Sam, 27

3. I Go Grocery Shopping In Less Busy Aisles

"On the days that I'm really feeling like Superwoman, I've been known to go grocery shopping on my lunch break. Getting in there and being able to navigate the aisles in peace, before that menacing after-work food shopping rush, makes me feel like I’ve really gamed the system. Not only is that a great feeling, but I save myself time and a bit of sanity." — Arielle, 27

4. I Take An Exercise Break

“There’s a treadmill desk in our office, and I like to go take a walk on it during lunch for a change of scenery — and to get some exercise.” — Hannah, 30

5. I Catch Up On What's Going On In The World

“I make it a point to always catch up on the news during my lunch breaks. Even if it's just for 10 minutes while I'm waiting in line for a salad, I always use my lunch break as a mid-day catch-up session to see what's going on in the world.” — Allison B., 27

6. I Take The Time To Read

“Since I'm on my feet all day for my job, during lunch while I eat, I like to check and respond to my personal emails, make phone calls for appointments if I need to, or even run a couple of errands so I can avoid going to the store after work. If I'm in the middle of a good book, I also like to read during my lunch break, which is a nice way to check out completely and return to my work feeling 100-percent refreshed." — Aly, 26

7. I Spend Time Outdoors

“I work next to a nature preserve, so I take my lunch outside. Afterwards, I take a walk along the beach. I’m lucky that I live so close to a scenic outdoor space, but just getting fresh air and a change of scenery helps me return my work with a new perspective." — Jess, 29

8. I Meet Friends For Lunch

“My best friend and I work about a 20 minute-walk from each other, so sometimes we’ll pick a halfway point and either meet for lunch or a quick shopping trip. It’s a great way to reconnect, and has the benefit of being something I look forward to during the first half of the day and that puts me in a great mood for the second half.” — Meghan, 28

9. I Started A Side Hustle That Turned Into A Dream Job

"Back when I had a job as an HR assistant, I secretly wanted to start an unrelated career in entertainment journalism. I got an internship at a New York City-based magazine, but I definitely couldn't quit my job for an unpaid internship. The magazine offices were only five blocks away from my full-time job, so I'd run over there during lunchtime to have some face time with my internship supervisor and take a stack of articles to fact-check while I was sitting at my desk at the nonprofit. I felt like I was in a sitcom while I was running around, working two places at once, but the reality was extremely stressful. I barely had time to eat — I really wish I'd thought of packing a light snack to go! My boss at my real job was actually really understanding, and eventually I got a full-time dream job as a writer at a major national magazine, where I was checking off Bucket List items left and right, interviewing celebrities and reviewing books, TV, and movies for a national magazine. I can really thank that lunch-hour internship (and my understanding boss!) for getting me started." — Stephan, 30

This post is sponsored by Del Monte® Fruit Refreshers™‎.

Main image: Offset

Photos: Offset (1, 2, 3, 6); Pexels (5), Del Monte (4)