Top 5 Ways to Use Your Lunch Hour for Personal Growth

How do you typically use your lunch hour? Do you try to squeeze in errands or use it to catch up on work? Do you skip right over the idea of lunch and eat some canned tuna or a microwave dinner at your desk? Whether you’re back in the office full time or working remotely, striving to protect and savor your lunch hour is a surefire strategy to maintain a sense of control over your workday. Once you reframe your 60-minute lunch break as “me time,” you’ll find there’s no end to how much personal growth you can achieve over a PBJ sandwich—and you don’t even have to hit the gym.


Here are five ways to spend your lunch hour to your benefit:

1. Read—don’t scroll

One reason smartphones are so addictive is that it’s easy to hold your phone in one hand and a fork in the other. How many meals have you wasted scrolling through Facebook? And while it’s lovely to keep up with high school classmates, how much does this aimless social media use really benefit you? Imagine how many books you could consume instead. You could read the latest business leadership books, or you could escape into a steamy romance novel. Read whatever will help you detach a bit from your day so you return to your work refreshed and refocused.

If you want a different take, consider audiobooks or podcasts for a similar effect. The idea is to find something to focus on for more than a few seconds.

2. Learn a new language

Whether you’re planning the vacation of your dreams or simply want to communicate better with those in your community, devoting your lunch hour to learning a different language can be fun and professionally rewarding. Apps such as Duolingo and Babbel gamify the learning experience; you won’t feel like you’re conjugating verbs in Spanish class. These apps offer low-cost lessons and, in some cases, free ad-supported versions.

3. Meditate or journal

The middle of the workday is one of those rare times when you can “get away” to some effect. After all, your children are likely in school, and your spouse is probably tied up at work as well. This could be your opportunity to engage in a meditation practice or take up journaling for self-reflection. Bullet journaling is a fun way to track your goals and collect your thoughts. If it’s culturally acceptable at your workplace, turn off your Slack or Teams notifications during your lunch hour, and whatever you do, don’t open your email. It can wait. Take a deep breath and reflect.

4. Pick up a portable hobby

Knitters, crocheters, and embroiderers have figured out a great secret: Their favorite pastime is generally highly portable and can be whipped out at a moment’s notice. Is there a hobby you can enjoy over your lunch hour? If the fiber arts aren’t your style, what about sketching, or working crossword or logic puzzles? These types of activities not only work your mental muscles in different ways, but they are also highly relaxing.

5. Reach out and call someone

Your lunch hour is the perfect time to network and stay in touch. Make it a goal to set up lunch with a professional mentor. Call your college roommate or your great-aunt. Write a thank-you note to your high school English teacher. Picking one person a week to connect with over your lunch hour will pay dividends in terms of personal connections (and may even help you down the line in your career).

You can mix it up and try a different activity each day of the week. However you choose to spend your lunch hour, work hard to actually take it. That 60-minute break will help you be a more effective employee, a more engaged family member and spouse, and a happier person overall. Life is short. You deserve at least 300 minutes for yourself each week.

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