I am nearing the end of my fourth decade of being part of the working world and I’ve always been a fan of getting out of the office for lunch even if it means brown bagging it in the park. Sometimes that’s been necessary.
With so much time spent staring at screens, going out to lunch with someone can be a welcome break from the hour-to-hour grind of the workday. Yet somehow going out to lunch has become either a guilty pleasure or an unaffordable (both time and expense) luxury. That’s more than a shame as far as I am concerned.
So many of my professional relationships have been elevated by breaking bread. Earlier in my career when I had young children I lived by the motto of ‘you can have me during the day but nights are for my family’. Meaning that lunch was the time to meet a client or colleague, discuss business and even talk about personal things like family and travel. In the 1980’s the three martini lunches were pretty much becoming a thing of the past. Inviting clients and prospects to lunch (yes there was a time when a business prospect would allow you to take them to lunch) potentially fostered those relationships in the days before email and being ‘on call’ nearly 24/7.
I’ve written about being too busy to do anything but work, work, work. Despite that I’m here to offer that going out to lunch is an antidote to a mundane workweek in which by Thursday you cannot recall what you did or ate on Tuesday. Yet with the lengthening of people’s work hours (does anyone really only work 9-5 anymore?), instead of taking time to get out of the daily routine, people are forgetting and missing the benefits of changing one’s perspective by getting out and doing something different for an hour or two.
Keith Ferrazzi wrote a book several years ago called ‘Never Eat Alone’ and while I get the point of making eating time a social and professional activity, there are also times when I like being alone, getting a sandwich or salad, and sitting in Bryant Park watching all the people come and go.
I’ve friends who I don’t see as much as I’d like – because we’re all so busy. They are often too busy to have lunch even when we work in the same city. One other thing, I am very good at lunch. Mainly because I enjoy it so much – the change of venue, the atmosphere of different and the community created by engagement, all most often combine to elevate my spirit, and my afternoons. The work seems to always be there when I get back to my desk.
Don’t eat at your desk today. Consider a change to your routine and go out to lunch with a friend, family member or even a client. And then try to do it more often.