One of my favorite series in Inside Higher Ed is from University of Venus, who write about issues that pertain especially to women working in higher education. In a recent post, titled: You Should Take a Lunch Break they asked several women working in different parts of academia to comment on how and if they take a break mid-day. I was struck by this questions because in my mind there’s no question, I take a lunch break every day. Taking a lunch break may seem trivial, but I find it a much needed part of my day. Much of my day is spent in meetings or talking with others and as an introvert I need a solid block of time to recharge to be an effective manager for the later part of the day.
My lunch break is typically an hour from 12-1pm. I leave my office and go to the student union or another space outside of the library. That change of scenery enables me to spend a few minutes walking outside between buildings, which since I work below ground is refreshing in and of itself. In the warmer months, right now that’s April-October, I eat lunch outside. Otherwise, I find a spot inside where I eat my lunch. I tend to listen to a non-work related podcast and then I do a bit of fun reading. In nice weather I substitute some of that listening/reading time to take a 5-10 minute walk around part of campus. My lunch break is also just about the only time during the day that I check social media. Unless I’m posting something for work, I don’t look during the work day. I have purposefully turned off notifications so my phone doesn’t light up every few seconds while I’m working or meeting with someone.
Equally important as me taking a lunch break, is encouraging those on my team to take a break. Each person is different and so for some, just like those interviewed by University of Venus, sitting at their desk with the door closed watching YouTube videos or listening to music is how they recharge and want to spend that down time. Others meet up with work friends for lunch or a walk. When we have a new faculty or staff person join our division, I always talk to that person about their schedule. I try to be as flexible as I can to support their needs, whether that’s the start/end time for the day, or other scheduling considerations. Taking a lunch break is a big part of how I keep focused throughout the day.
What does your lunch break look like?