February challenge: a lunch hour adventure
The lunch hour: that sacred 60 minutes in the middle of the day when you’re not required to work. It is so tempting to eat a sandwich at your desk and crack on through with that endless list of emails (I know, I have done it), but instead, could you use this time for adventure?
The ‘what’ of adventure
Obviously, within the time constraints of an office lunch break, we are not talking adventure on a grand scale. But adventure can mean anything: discovery, widening horizons, doing anything out of the normal routine. An adventure can simply mean focussing on that second word used to describe this hour: break.
In our busy, must-get-this-done society, it is easy to overlook the value of taking a break. But that huge pile of admin will still be there when you get back, and taking a step away from the task in hand can work wonders in terms of productivity, enthusiasm and efficiency. Our brains are simple things; they were not made to focus on a computer screen for hours on end. They need variety, stimulation and interest in order to function effectively. And mostly, they need fresh air. Checking Facebook doesn’t count as a lunch break (because let’s face it, you do that most of the rest of the day, too). Finish your sentence, send that email, and get out there.
Where to go
Whether you work in a city, town or in the countryside, there will be something of interest nearby. A gallery or museum; a tea rooms or a library. Wherever you are, pick a point that is a twenty minute walk away, and go. Twenty minutes to get there, twenty minutes to eat your lunch, and twenty minutes to get back to your desk. It doesn’t particularly need to be a place of note – anywhere you can sit and eat a sandwich or watch the world going by is good enough. Read the paper. Feed the ducks*. Notice the buildings and people around you. Offer someone a helping hand.
Variety enriches us and feeds our brains. Fresh air clears away the hangups of the morning. Even if it is your most stressful day at work and you can barely afford the time, getting outside and away from it all for one hour will make the rest of the day run more smoothly. You can return to your desk refreshed, revitalised, stress-free and ready to put in some good hours for the rest of the day.
At this time of year especially, your lunch hour might be the only time you are able to experience daylight; while the days are still fairly short, commutes to and from work are often done in the dark. Even in the rain it’s important to get out. A good umbrella or rain jacket, and maybe a change of shoes, is all you need.
Mostly, the act of getting up and getting outside, of throwing something new into your routine, is how adventure will creep into your life. At the end of our days, we don’t look back and think ‘what a yummy year of sandwiches I ate while sitting at my desk.’ By being active, by inviting new experiences, we create new memories and new opinions; we exercise our creativity and our curiosity; we develop as people. Who knows what serendipity might befall us when we just open ourselves to the possibility? It certainly won’t happen while we sit at our desks.
Sometimes it will rain. Sometimes you’ll have a lunchtime meeting. But a couple of times a week, try something new: get out of the office and into the wide open world.
*don’t feed the ducks bread – that is really bad for both the ducks and the water. Ducks like grapes (seedless, cut in half), cooked rice, birdseed, peas, corn, oats and chopped lettuce.