Taking a Stand For Lunch (And Then a Walk Away From Your Desk)
Don’t become a victim of "email eating," a contagious disease where you simultaneously eat lunch and work
I’ll admit it. At my first job out of college, the first week or two I wasn’t sure where to eat when lunchtime rolled around and it felt like the first day at a new school.
Should I eat in the kitchen and smile at co-workers as they passed? Should I go out to eat, to get a change of scenery? Should I eat at my desk, by myself, weeping into a cold container of mashed potatoes? Somebody help!
Like any good student, I decided to see what other people were doing. When I looked around the office, I was amazed to see many people opting for the last option (they weren’t weeping into their mashed potatoes, though. Mostly salads).
For a few days, I followed suit. I emailed, I took a bite, sent another email, chewed. Checked my calendar. I became a "desk-eater," what a Gallup poll says 67 percent of Americans do every day. Then I realized how ridiculous that was. Lunch was my time to close out of spreadsheets, put down the mouse and … eat food.
I know. Preposterous.
At your first job, don’t become a victim of what I like to call Email Eating, a contagious disease where you simultaneously eat lunch and work. Take a stand, then a walk to somewhere besides your desk to eat.
Get to know Bob
Lunch is a great time to get to know people at work who you wouldn’t otherwise interact with. Bob isn’t in your department? He’s a programmer and you’re a marketing assistant? So what? He still probably likes food. And maybe even you. Ask Bob if he wants to grab a bite. He’s a good guy; you just don’t know it yet.
Bob’s great, but what about Sally?
It’s easy to fall into lunch routines (see earlier bit about Email Eating) and that includes always having lunch with the same people. The more people you meet the better, especially when you’re first starting out at a company. Don’t just eat lunch with Bob. See if Sally wants to, too.
Give yourself time to eat. It must be important if your mom says so.
The “lunch hour” is an antiquated term and one that perhaps doesn’t accurately describe the amount of time you (or your company) really allot for lunch. Maybe it’s more like, “lunch 10 minutes at your desk while you continue to work.” Sound familiar?
If you use a calendar like Google Calendar, block off time on your schedule so people know that you’re at lunch and when you’ll be back. Scheduling it like you do for other appointments and meetings gives it importance so you’re less likely to miss it, while simultaneously being transparent about where you are and how much time you’ll be there. Win-win.
Don’t be an Email Eater. Get up and ask someone if they want to grab lunch. If they don’t, no harm done, at least you asked. Then, and only then, may you go back to weeping into your mashed potatoes, replying to emails between teary bites.
Monster Wants to Know: Are you one of the many that suffer from "Email Eating?" How many times have you eaten at your desk before seeking a co-worker for lunch at a new job? Share with us in the comment section.