I decided to reclaim my lunch break today. It was completely unplanned as I, probably like the majority of you dear readers, spend most of my lunchtimes fork in one hand, mouse in the other, glued to my computer screen.
I’d reluctantly left an interesting conference early with the view of attacking my To Do list with gusto and on my way back to the office I popped into a well know purveyor of ‘good natural food’ for some lunchtime sustenance. The girl behind the counter asked me if I was going to eat lunch in the park and as I heard myself utter the words , ‘no sadly I’m going back to my windowless office to eat it’ I caught myself and thought “WHY????.” Right there and then I resolved to eat said lunch al fresco.
I’m luckier than most as, although a rare occurrence, lunch al fresco for me is either by the Thames at London Bridge (home of the windowless office) or opposite the Houses of Parliament on Westminster Bridge (upmarket hotdesking).
The minute I sat down to admire the view and ponder this afternoon’s tasks ahead, my creative juices started flowing and this blog popped into my head. Stylist magazine started a Reclaim Your Lunch Break campaign in January 2015, backed by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. This was on the back of a recent study that said by not taking our lunch break we work an additional 19 days per year! Shocking really and if you’re interested in finding out more go to http://www.stylist.co.uk/life/reclaim-your-lunch-break/sign-up.
If the working for free isn’t enough of an incentive to unchain you from your desk, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that our brains are not designed to work solidly for eight or more hours a day and that breaks make us more productive and creative. In fact, brief and rare mental breaks actually keep you more focussed, not less according to an article in Cognition in 2011 from Alejandro Lleras, a psychology professor from the University of Illinois http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0010027710002994
Still not convinced? Well my own mini experiment meant that my 20 minutes of fresh air and vitamin D by the river not only created this blog but also cleared my head for the mammoth task of tackling that To Do list this afternoon.
We have 13,500 staff in my organisation and as the Director of Organisational Development, how to improve the working lives of our staff; keep them psychologically resilient as well as physically healthy and motivate them so that they continue to provide excellent patient care is constantly on my mind.
As Spring turns to Summer I’m thinking of starting a Reclaim Your Lunch Break revolution of our own. What with that and our Associate Director of Equality and Human Rights promotion of walking meetings it feels like we could be on the cusp of releasing an amazing level of creativity and innovation in workforce that mean fantastic things happen.
Oh and if you’re wondering I managed to whizz through my To Do list and even managed to leave work on time for a change. I’m converted.
Join the lunch break revolution!
Me earlier today enjoying my lunch break on Queen’s Walk by the Thames with Tower Bridge and the Tower of London in the background