In Defense of the Lunch Break

One of the first stories I remember my dad telling me is the tale of two woodcutters, John and Thomas, who engaged in a competition to determine who could chop the most wood.

As they were chopping, John noticed that Thomas took frequent breaks. “I’m being more productive,” John thought. He was obviously putting in more work than Thomas, who stopped chopping at various times and must have gotten tired more easily than him.

However, at day’s end, Thomas had chopped more wood than John, who had gone all day with little pause.

How did this happen? Every time Thomas took a break, he was sharpening his ax. Even though he spent less time chopping, he spent more time ensuring that he would be efficient when he had to exert a large amount of effort.

Although this logic can be used to justify slacking off, it is rooted in truth and can be crucial to heighten efficiency in the workplace.

Taking breaks every now and then to “sharpen your ax” can help you de-stress and refresh yourself. Even if this isn’t possible, it’s necessary to take a lunch break at least.

As featured contributor Christine Smith stated: “ I know it’s tempting to think that we’re saving time or being more efficient by working through our lunches, but that’s just not the case. Skipping our lunch breaks may be hurting us more than we realize.”

You need to renew your mind and body at some point and taking a midday lunch break is an ideal time to do so. Even if you can only afford 20 minutes to take a quick bite, make the most of those 20 minutes. Maybe talk to someone at the office while you’re eating so that you’re away from your desk and the stresses you encounter there. If you interact with people all day and your introverted nature necessitates a few minutes of alone time to recharge, take that time as you eat. If you’re constantly surrounded by technology, take lunch to unplug and get away from it all.

Maybe it seems counterintuitive to take a break when you want to keep working and powering through tiredness or stress. However, a break aligns with prioritizing your mental and physical health, both of which will follow you for the rest of your life.

Consider your lunch break an investment in yourself.

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Profile Photo Nya Jackson

Love the story at the beginning! I usually eat lunch at my desk, but took 30 minutes today to have lunch with my co-worker in the kitchen, and it was nice. Even though we’re on the same team I learned a lot about him and his role that I didn’t know before and it was a nice break from my work.