Are you too busy too take a lunch break in your own business? Isn’t one of the reasons we are in business for ourselves is so that we can determine not if, but how long, our lunch breaks are? Today’s article is inspired by the HerCanberra article by Maddy M O where shares her thoughts about heading back to work after being a Stay At Home Mum (SAHM) for 11 months and the ensuing conversation on the HerCanberra Facebook page. In her article, Maddy M O shares that one of the things she is looking forward to by returning to work is a “Lunchbreak! Even the good ol’ 15 minutes at my desk will be a luxury!” I’m sure any parent who has stayed home with the littlies can relate to how tough taking that break can be. However, part of the discussion on the Facebook page was around the fact that some didn’t feel they had time for a lunch break when in the work force – they don’t work for themselves, they work for someone else.
Why are you too busy to take a Lunch Break?
When I read the discussion, it made me think about my own habits and reassess just why, some days, I’m just too busy to take a lunch break. There are days when I simply don’t take a break – sometimes because I’m engrossed in what I’m doing, sometimes because I feel that I just can’t afford the 15 or 30 minutes because something won’t get finished. As entrepreneurs and business owners, in general, we all:
- Work long hours
- Take breaks at strange times
- Take on too much! There’s so much we want to achieve!
Working for long extended hours without a break is a bad thing. Taking regular breaks throughout your day and eating regularly is necessary if you want to maintain or increase your productivity. When I find myself in this situation, I find that I loose focus on what I consider important and get tied up in “the doing”. When that happens, I have to make a concerted effort to step back, assess what is really going on, re prioritise everything and work from there. It’s hard work doing that, because whilst I’m planning and re-prioritising - I’m not doing and deadlines may be missed (shock horror!). You know what I find though? The times when I do step back, take stock, re-prioritise - are the times that I find more clarity and become more productive!
Why do a lunch breaks and work break increase productivity?
- See what really is important, urgent, important and urgent or just not important
- Determine if work can be done by other team members or outsourced to a VA or other body
- Chunk down work into more manageable pieces…
In fact, Emma Grey (from Work Life Bliss) provides some fabulous insight into the reasons why taking a lunch break is so important:
Interestingly, the brain has an ‘ultradian rhythm’ that lasts 90-120 minutes at a time. After that period, the brain can’t focus without a break (so if you don’t give it one, it will wander). People reach for caffeine when they’d be better off walking down the hallway and back, even for five minutes.
Productivity skyrockets when you work in concentrated bursts of focus/energy followed by short breaks. More work is done by having breaks, not less.
I find it fascinating that by taking a break, i.e working less hours, you can actually achieve more! Emma offers an awesome eBook, “The 7 Types Of Busy”, over on Work Life Bliss and I recommend any business owners and entrepreneurs grab a copy and do the self assessment. In fact, I reckon doing the self assessment at different times during the year to see how your patterns change.
We have Employee Lunch Break Laws in Australia - shouldn’t we be enforcing them on ourselves as well? Without a doubt, allowing (even enforcing) regular lunch breaks and work breaks, will increase workforce productivity and it will increase our own small business results. Ultimately, if we, as small business owner and entrepreneurs, want to increase productivity we have to take responsibility to ensure that we not only take a lunch break, but that we take other work breaks through the day.