You have probably heard that eating a nutritious lunch can not only improve your health, but it can also improve your productivity at work. But you shouldn’t just eat your lunch at your desk. It turns out that where we eat is also pretty important to boosting productivity.
It seems like a good idea at the time. You have a ton of work to get done, so you’ll multitask and work through lunch, right? If you tend to do this, you’re not alone. Research suggests that only one in five of us take any lunch break at all.
Eating at Your Desk is Hurting Your Productivity
While, in theory, eating and working at the same time seems like a way to boost productivity, the reality is quite the opposite. The extra time at the desk is hurting your health and lowering your productivity.
In order to find the truth, look no further than a study on lunch break patterns in office workers. It was published by John Trougakos, The Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior & HR Management at the University of Toronto. Trougakos found that the absence of a proper lunch break will actually decrease productivity and causes greater fatigue.
According to Trougakos, oftentimes employees feel pressured to eat their lunch at their desks because they don’t want to appear lazy. But those same workers ended up becoming less productive, fatigued, and less efficient. Their work obviously suffered as a result.
Step Away and Recharge Your Battery
We really only have so much psychological energy that we can use each day, and our jobs are a huge drain on that energy. By eating lunch at your desk, you’re not giving yourself the opportunity to detach from the source of that energy drain and ‘recharge your battery.’
Stepping away from your desk and putting some space between you and your workload provides you a chance to recover and has a restorative effect on your brain. Just a simple change of scenery can help you recharge and help to stimulate new ideas.
Eat Lunch in a Green Space
If you really want to increase your productivity, one study from 2013 says you should try taking your lunch to the park. Researchers from the University of Edinburg and Heriot-Watt University found that sitting in green spaces or even viewing a park from a window had restorative effects, quickened stress recovery, and helped improve attention fatigue.
If hitting the park on lunch isn’t an option for you, you can still invest in a desk plant for your office, and maybe take a stroll down the hallway every so often. But whatever you do, say no to the sad desk lunch. Your boss and your body will thank you.