Should You Work Over Lunch Breaks or Relax?

Posted on - in Work Productivity
break or work for lunch

Lunch breaks can feel like a sanctuary, providing a window of time during the day where stress-inducing deadlines or dealing with annoying co-workers can be put on hold. Whether you go out for lunch or bring your own, many greatly look forward to their lunch break, as it not only provides a break but also signifies that the day is around halfway complete.

As a result, the prospect of doing work during their lunch break may seem cruel and unusual to some. Isn’t an eight-hour workday enough to get things done? For many it is, but there are others who find using their lunch break to complete tasks leads to less stress for the rest of the day.

Deciding whether to work or relax during a lunch break is certainly influenced by one’s line of work and the expectations that come with it, but regardless of one’s specific situation, it’s worth digging into the pros and cons of both lunchtime ideologies.

Regardless, Remember to Eat

What you do with your lunch is up to you, but one thing should be mandatory: the eating aspect of it. Some are so caught up in their day’s work that they can lose track of time and even forget about their appetite. Even if you’re not particularly hungry, at least use lunch to eat a banana, which has just the right amount to glucose to aid in optimal brain function. Proper hydration and nutrition are essential if you want to show your best capabilities when at work.

The Power of Concentration

Before and after lunch is usually a time of great concentration, whether you’re talking with clients or writing scripts on a computer. On one side, using lunch as a time to prep for a big client meeting can result in increased focus and confidence for that event in particular. This can apply to work in general, as catching up on work can help some feel more stress-free throughout the day and less on the clock.

Conversely, since our brains are only able to focus optimally for 90 minutes at a time, it may be more opportune to use lunch as a time to unwind. Taking a break can help sustain energy levels and concentration throughout the day, as opposed to using lunch as another period to deplete your cognitive resources, especially if you had poor sleep the night prior.

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Exercise: A Fine Medium?

Understandably, some workers don’t want the line between working and relaxing to be so thin. They may rather use the largest chunk of their lunch break to work out, so their body is stimulated the rest of the day and they don’t have to add the gym to their to-do list when getting home.

Since studies show that working out is best and safest for your body between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., it isn’t out of the question to consider taking a later lunch break to work out for 30-45 minutes, while eating lunch for 10-15 minutes. The ample benefits of working out include improved mood, reduced stress and increased confidence, all aspects that can improve your work performance and work-life balance.

The Benefits of Opting to Work During Lunch

Hunkering down in front of your computer and working during lunch has an array of benefits, too. This is especially the case in public relations, where many workers use lunchtime to send out emails. Kissmetric studies show that noon and 6 p.m. are the optimal times to send emails and post on social media for engagement, likely due to lunchtime and then for people checking their emails before leaving work. Additionally, working during lunch can help sustain a nicely paced workflow if you’re in a particularly efficient mood.

Choosing whether to relax or work over lunch isn’t very straightforward, as both have their share of benefits and the decision rests upon one’s individual job situation. Still, as long as one makes sure to eat and at least take some kind of break during the day, their work-time efficiency should remain optimal.

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Kayla Matthews writes Productivity Theory and is constantly seeking to provide new tips and hacks to keep you motivated and inspired! You can also find her on Huffington Post and Tiny Buddha, and follow her on Google+ and Twitter to stay up to date on her latest productivity posts!


  1. Steven

    Great write-up! Over the years, I find that focussing on a healthy, wholesome meal is the best way to spend lunchtime :-).

    5 years ago
    • Kayla Matthews

      It’s great that you’re able to power down during lunch and just focus on eating. Sounds like a great mid-day break!

      Thanks for reading!

      5 years ago

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