Are you feeling burned out? In a rut? Looking for something new? Hoping to win the lottery?
I hate to break it to you, but you probably won’t win the lottery. But the good news is, if you can commit 30 – 45 minutes a day, you can gain new skills, find enthusiasm for your work again, or lay the groundwork for moving to a new challenge.
I know, you’ve read this before. Change your life during your lunch hour – not exactly an original idea. “But I’m hungry, tired, and I need the break.” Absolutely right – you do. And you should most certainly take it. I’m not talking about skipping lunch to go to the gym, take a class, or using the time for a “side hustle”, although all of those are a great use of your time.
I’m talking about enhancing your life while eating lunch.
Build relationships – Have lunch with someone you want to get to know better, a friend who inspires or supports you, or invite someone from another office to lunch. Widening your work community will make you feel more connected, and your network can also keep you in the loop when new positions, projects, or initiatives are launched that could provide you with the change you are looking for.
Find inspiration – Limit your Facebook time to 10 minutes or so (I would NEVER tell you not to look at Facebook – that would make me such a hypocrite!) But you may have read that studies show that reading Facebook can actually make you more stressed and depressed. When you are finished skimming your news feed, read a couple of blogs that inspire you. Personally, I use Feedly to consolidate my favorite blogs, but there are many other tools out there. Set up a group of blogs that feed your mind and energize you for the afternoon’s challenges. If you don’t know any, ask people you like and admire who they read, and start there. If you asked me, I might suggest starting with Seth Godin, Gretchin Rubin, or Jonathan Fields. I also love Harvard Business Review.
Learn while listening – I love podcasts. There are so many podcasts out there – from guided meditations and humor to business advice, and anything else you can think of. Both the Apple and Android world have podcast apps, and there are sites you can download them to your favorite MP3 device. Many bloggers also do podcasts. Podcasts are also great for commuting – my favorite driving podcast is Freakonomics. And the best part is, put your headphones on, and podcasts leave your hands and mouth free to consume an energizing and nutritions lunch (or whatever else you are eating – again I don’t want to be a hypocrite!)
Gain a new skill. Yes, I said I was not going to recommend taking a class, and I’m not. (Although online learning is a great way to use your time.) But there are other ways to gain new skills. As you build relationships, ask someone you had lunch with to show you what they do. You can learn all kinds of tips and tricks from blog posts. I love Lifehacker for that. And podcasts? There are so many great teachers out there – it’s an embarrassment of riches. Almost anything you might want to learn has a podcast.
Expand your role – Think about what causes you the most grief in your work life. Is it a broken process? A task that takes up too much of your time in relationship to its overall utility? Is it an old report you are still producing long after anyone is really using it? Spend your lunch time thinking about changing the process to be more efficient, recommending a new way to meet the requirement that reduces the time it takes to complete the task, or whose concurrence you would need to eliminate the obsolete report. Then document your proposal, with your evidence and your recommended alternative, to the right person. Doing this could eliminate a pain point, help others you work with, and raise your profile as someone who is committed to the best course of action for the organization.
The best way to make this work for you? Mix it up! To really get you mojo back, don’t just do one of these – that would be just another rut! If you are a planner, you could set a day for each. Make Monday “Have lunch with someone new” day. “Podcast Fridays” sounds like fun to me. Or, if you like, you can just pick which one inspires you on any given day. And these aren’t the only things you can do. These ideas are just a starting point. Think about where you want to be in life this time next year. What will it take to get you there? Break it down into little steps. Take action at least once a week. Taking concrete action toward a goal is the best way I know to boost your mojo.