Getting ahead at work is a challenging objective for many professionals, especially those with significant responsibilities outside the office. Many of us have read excellent advice on how to get ahead – taking courses, attending seminars and networking.
But that begs the question: when am I supposed to do all of this work?
The answer: the strategic lunch hour.
Leaving your office for an hour is an excellent way to advance your career. It doesn’t require getting up earlier (though that helps!) and it doesn’t require burning the midnight oil either.
6 Strategies to Advance Your Career in 60 Minutes
Let’s start with wellness. If your physical and mental health fall apart, you will have no capacity to achieve greater results and handle increased responsibilities. Check out these 6 great strategies to advance your career in your lunch hour.
Exercise has a laundry list of benefits. For ambitious professionals, consider these this discovery. Researchers at Kings College London studied 9000 people to determine the benefits of exercise.
The result: exercising at least once per week improves memory and cognitive function.
In the long run, the same research found that exercise prevents cognitive decline.
Whether you take a walk or visit the gym, exercise improves your ability to think and perform on the job.
Meditation is becoming more and more popular in the business world. As The New Yorker reported in 2014, meditation can be used for a variety of purposes including increasing performance at the office.
Whether you are running a growing media empire like Arianna Huffington (who advocates for meditation in her book Thrive) or seeking political change like Congressman Tim Ryan (author of A Mindful Nation), meditation can be helpful.
Finding time and space to meditate during a busy work day is a challenge.
Given those restrictions, I suggest using a guided meditation recording. Tara Brach offers free guided meditation recordings, some as short as ten to fifteen minutes, which you can copy to a mobile device and use over lunch.
Sleep and rest are indispensable for success. If your performance declines during the day, consider a nap instead of another cup of coffee. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a 20-30 minute nap to improve your alertness.
Finding a place to nap can be challenging, especially in the middle of the day. A short nap may help you perform better at that next big afternoon presentation if you`re feeling tired.
A growing list of companies – including Google, Nike, and Ben & Jerry`s – provide facilities for employees to catch a nap during the day. Alternately, you may be able to book a room at a nearby gym (or even a study room at a library) to get some rest.
4. Actively Study A Book
Reading a book to advance your career is a tried and true career advancement tool. For the best results, read with a pen and notebook in hand. After all, many business and personal development books include exercises and worksheets.
Those resources will only improve your career if you do the work.
Not sure what to read? I suggest reading time tested classic business books to improve your career: “Getting Things Done” by David Allen and “The Effective Executive” by Peter Drucker.
Tip: Reading is also a great way to enhance your leadership. Reading an Ron Chernow’s excellent biography of Washington inspired me to write: Career Hacks From Young George Washington.
5. Attend a Webinar Presentation at Your Desk
Do you struggle to find time to attend educational presentation and seminars? While there’s nothing quite like attending an event in person, webinars (i.e. web seminars) are an excellent alternative.
For example, the Project Management Institute offers webinars to its members covering a wide variety of project management topics. For greater breadth, consider the webinars offered by the American Management Association – there are over 200 archived web events.
To get the best results from the webinar, close all other programs on your computer and focus on the presentation. For improved results, ask the presenter for advice on how to adapt the ideas to your context.
6. Go to lunch with someone in your network
Sharing a meal with someone in your network is an outstanding way to grow your career. There’s a reason one of the world’s most famous networking books is called, “Never Eat Alone.” Over the course of a meal, you learn about a person’s interests and goals.
You may be pleasantly surprised at how you can help each other: a simple introduction email can work wonders.
A working lunch can take longer than an hour, especially if you have to travel to the restaurant.
Do yourself a favor and make a reservation ahead of time. If possible, find a restaurant that is relatively quiet – going for lunch at a loud restaurant will make conversation difficult.
In conclusion, your lunch hour can be a very productive way to aid your career, rather than just doing nothing at all. To recap, here are the 6 strategies to advancing your career in your lunch hour listed again:
- Actively study a book
- Attend a webinar presentation at your desk
- Go to lunch with someone in your network
What productive things do you do in your lunch hour?