How To: Maximize Your Lunch Break

The lunch hour is a blessed buffer between tours of duty in your cubicle. But who really needs a full hour to eat? With the era of three-martini lunches behind us, it’s often better to chow down at your desk and use that off-duty hour for something productive, relaxing, or both.

Hit the Gym

If you’re getting up at 6 am to go to the gym before work, well, congratulations. Mere mortals should consider the infinitely more civilized (and realistic) noontime workout. If you have a gym near your office, try spending a half-hour pounding the treadmill, blasting your delts, and perfecting your plank position. It’s a great way to get the endorphins flowing and avoid the mid-afternoon slump. You’ll also return to work with that healthy, confident glow that has “upper management” written all over it.

Run an Errand

Some errands can only happen during the day. If you need to mail a package, renew your driver’s license, or pay a visit to your bank, you’re probably not going to make it after work or on the weekend. So, bang it out on your lunch hour. If you’re feeling restless, kill two birds with one stone and throw in a refreshing crosstown power walk.

Visit a Museum

It might not seem so obvious, but museums are a terrific destination for a lunch-hour excursion. Not only are they less crowded during the day than on weekends, but taking in some world-class art is a fine way of sprinkling a little cultural zest into your 9-to-5. And odds are if you pick the right day, you can see world-class art for nothing: In Los Angeles, the Skirball Cultural Center and the UCLA Hammer Museum offer free admission on Thursdays, while in New York, the eminent Metropolitan remains gratis yearround (donation suggested).

Go on a Date

While not a traditional time for romance, the lunch-hour date has the distinct advantage of being capped at a single hour. This makes it especially useful for a first rendezvous, when you’re just trying to get to know someone. If you meet and quickly realize you’re not compatible, then you’ll be in and out fast with no hard feelings. However, if you do hit it off, then you can always suggest that you continue the date in a few hours with after-work drinks.

—Matt Wolfe

Photo: Thinkstock

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