5 Ways Entrepreneurs Crush it by Maximizing Their Lunch Hour

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It’s 1:30 p.m. You go out, you grab lunch, only to come back to the office, sit at your desk and chow down for 10 to 15 minutes or so. As you gobble down the last bite you realize you have a meeting to run to and a proposal to write. Or maybe the inbox icon in your screen keeps buzzing, gently reminding you that you have more than 200 unread emails to pour through. Regardless of what it is, there is work to be done so you wipe your face and get back in the game.

Sound familiar? While thinking you’re saving time by eating at your desk and shoving food in your mouth, the reality is that your body isn’t a machine. This hustle to get work done without giving your body proper rest will eventually catch up with you. That 10 to 15 minute “lunch break” will most likely not sustain you and in turn be followed by a few hours of lower productivity than had you taken a longer break. So instead of just guzzling your lunch like a madman and continuing to “work”, here’s five alternative ways you should be spending your lunch break.

1. Lunch with clients.

Stop eating in the office, start eating with clients. Business is about relationships and your clients are your most important relationships. Sure, they pay you, but they’re also less likely to leave if you lunch with them. They’re more likely to recommend you if you build good relationship, and more likely to open up to you about their pain points, hesitations or long-term goals. All of this feedback serves as valuable insight which you can use as leverage to build better products or deliver better service. That 45 minute lunch break could be your ticket to truly understanding your customers’ needs and, in turn, better target your customers by incorporating solutions to those needs in your service.

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2. Eat with industry folks.

Why? Because in today’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, we’ve embraced an economy of sharing. Your peers will be happy to share with you what they’ve learned and will likewise want to hear from you what you’ve learned. It’s better when everyone grows together. Besides, industry lunches can act as group therapy. You can all vent about decreasing client budgets, or that one client from hell -- everyone’s got one.

3. Go exercise.

It’s no secret that a carb-laden lunch will make you lethargic for the next few hours, and in turn decrease your productivity. Exercise on the other hand gives you energy and makes you more productive. So if you’ve got a shower in the office, or a gym around the corner, consider cutting out for 30 to 45 minutes and getting on that Stairmaster or treadmill. Aside from exercise just being good for you, it can also help clear your head and lets you think through problems -- a two-for-one.

4. Take a siesta.

What? Yes. Siesta. Napping in the middle of the day has been proven to increase sharpness, and if you’re anything like the other entrepreneurs out there, you’re probably working long hours and not getting enough sleep. This is bad for you, and for the company. Well rested people perform better on mental acuity tests than tired ones, and guess what, your company, your employees and your family needs you to be at the top of your game. So go ahead, pass out on that couch for 15 to 20 minutes. It’s worth it.

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5. Meet with your team.

As entrepreneurs and leaders in our companies we often exist in silos. We work to move the organization forward, without necessarily spending enough time to see what the organization sees from within. Luckily, lunch is a great time to take a few of your team members out for a burger or some sushi, and ask them for feedback see, both positive and negative. How’s the team doing? How is management performing? What are their major stressors and how can we do better? It’s a great opportunity to not only connect with your employees but also to learn and cultivate an open and honest internal culture. Your employees will respect you more because of it.

Related: 7 Reasons Not to Let Work Eat Into Your Lunch Break

Do these five things and you’ll be crushing it. You’ll build better relationships with clients. You’ll learn from industry experts and become more knowledgeable and self-aware. You’ll get into better shape and better adept at solving mental problems with a clearer mind. You’ll be better rested than you are now. And finally, you’ll grasp a more acute understanding of your company, it’s people, and their pain points. Yes, all of this can happen in a lunch hour. What’s your lunch plan for tomorrow?