the danger of desktop dining
By tom rath
Wellness | November 8, 2016
Early in my career, having lunch with a group of friends from work was one of the best parts of my day. Some days we would all go out to eat, but most of the time, we grabbed lunch in the cafeteria.
Either way, it provided a mental break from what I was working on and forced me to get up and move around. Most importantly, it was quality social time with my friends.
However, as the demands of my job increased over the next couple of years, my lunchtime pattern changed. On most days, I considered myself too busy for an extended lunch and opted to eat at my desk. This allowed me to devour my food as quickly as possible, usually hunched over my keyboard reading email. Eating at my desk got lunch “out of the way” in about five minutes, compared to the 50 minutes it took to eat with a group.
I justified eating at my desk by telling myself it made me more productive. In hindsight, desktop dining had the opposite effect. It was bad for my relationships with col- leagues. I had less physical energy. And I was less satisfied with my job at the end of the workday and had fewer ideas to contribute.
According to various studies, roughly two-thirds of workers eat lunch at their desks. And a majority don’t take time for regular breaks during the workday. This can result in trouble focusing and less time for creative thought.
Instead, make lunch as a natural stopping point in the middle of a busy day. Take a short walk. On nice days, get outside for fresh air. Or find somewhere to eat with a few friends at work. Use lunchtime as a reminder to get exercise and energizing social time.