Don’t Let the Weekday Lunch Go the Way of the 8-Track Tape.

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Lunch hour? Yeah, right.

Nearly half of all American office workers eat lunch at their desks three times a week; about a quarter of them do so everyday, and another 27% don’t even bother with eating. When a break is taken, it’s nearly always 30 minutes or less.

Blame it on the new, global capitalism. It’s lean and hungry. Time zones have lost all relevance when the workday clock is always ticking somewhere. In the modern work environment, overworking is worn as a badge of honor; taking time out for a leisurely lunch is seen as shirking. Out to lunch’ is no longer just an idiom for someone who is out of touch and out of the loop—with a hamster wheel that never stops spinning, you step off at your own peril.
Deadlines are looming, emails need answering. It’s a tug of war for the midday time slot.
The reflex is to work harder, faster, longer.

It seems counter-intuitive, but skipping lunch is counter-productive.
Studies have consistently shown that productivity and performance actually improve when time is taken out of the day for lunch—a real lunch, not just a sandwich eaten in front of a computer screen. Work straight through and your brain becomes fatigued. While rote tasks can be performed, higher level thinking becomes more difficult, and your memory is challenged to recall or retain information.

Long, unbroken work sessions also come with health perils. In the short term, there are physical ailments like eye strain, back aches, and repetitive motion injuries; over time, a steady diet of overlong workdays can damage respiratory, circulatory, and heart functions.

A lunch break refreshes and recharges us both mentally and physically. It fuels the type of woolly and nonlinear thinking that yields richer, more nuanced insights and creative breakthroughs. It’s like slow thinking to go with the slow food of a proper lunch.

Escape the stress and distractions of the office with a satisfying, unhurried midday meal. And hold  your head up high—lunch is not just for wimps and slackers.

Sometimes you just can’t decide where to go. Enter your zip code and play restaurant roulette with the Wheel of Lunch.

They are architects by profession, but they are also ladies who lunch. Yen Ha and Michi Yanagashita of New York’s Front Studio have posted three years and counting of lunchtime blog entries. Lunch With Front Studio chronicles their daily rituals of a civilized lunch and a teatime sweet. They articulate their commitment to the noontime meal in A Lunch Manifesto.

It’s not just the pressures of the workday. The siren song of the internet gives workers infinite, diverting reasons to stay at their desks. See what else is chipping away at the noon hour: read Lunchtime: Death by Internet.

Tell the world about your BLT. The entries at Lunch Is Fun are pretty mundane, but apparently there is allure to the act of sharing— an active community of lunchers has been reporting and rating (Fun, Fun+, Super Fun) their meals since an astounding 2002.

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