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A Lunch Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Frankly, I think we’ve gone about as far as we can go with this self-improvement thing. After all the books and seminars and HR retreats, we have become masters in strategic thinking and clear communication. We have emotional intelligence to the max. Our computer skills are polished to a glittering sheen and we are totally proficient in managing our projects, and our time. We can even manage our managers.

Face it — we’ve become excellence machines, trained and programmed to be 110 percent efficient every hour we’re sitting with ergonomic precision at our workstations.

That means there is only one hour during the day when we are free to return to our natural, un-seminared selves and just goof off. Or so was the case before I came across an article on Forbes.com titled “16 Things You Should Do On Your Lunch Break.”

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The author was Jacquelyn Smith, and, of course, I had to read it. As I’m sure you’ll agree, she was the best angel on “Charlie’s Angels,” hands down.

I must admit that when I read No. 1, I started thinking that a more productive lunch hour might not be so bad. “Decompress” is the advice du jour, and we certainly do need a little time to relax after a busy morning of avoiding work.

According to workplace expert Lynn Taylor, the reason why you want to take a deep breath and relax is so you can “better strategize your goals with a broader and wiser perspective.” This makes sense. If you’ve had a productive morning playing “Soldier of Fortune,” you do need to step back and strategize on how to recover those stolen nuclear warheads and infiltrate war-torn Kosovo. Sweet!

Thing to do No. 2 is “make a plan.” Another great idea. You don’t want to waste even one second of your precious personal time by actually relaxing. Instead, sit yourself down and list all the projects you were supposed to complete, and didn’t. This shouldn’t take more than 55 minutes, which leaves you a full five minutes to hammer down a bologna and kale sandwich. Be sure to save a minute to chug a 40 of Olde English 800. After making that list of projects, you’ll need it.

“Take a break” is No. 3. Author Alexandra Levit recommends that you “try not talk about work during lunch.” This should be easy for you. You don’t talk about work during work.

“Eat” is Thing No. 5. What a novel suggestion! “Don’t try to be a hero and starve yourself for the sake of being a hard worker or checking off another ‘to-do’ item,” says Lynn Taylor. “You’ll pay for it later when you can’t concentrate and throw your body off balance. If you’ve earned a headache or are lightheaded at 4 p.m., you haven’t ultimately gained anything.”

Oh, yeah? Since you’re usually lightheaded by 9 a.m., it’s a real waste to wait until 4 p.m. Plus, after regularly attacking the food trough at the SmorgyBobs at lunchtime, you’ve definitely gained something. About 30 pounds.

No. 6 should also be easy for you — “Enjoy your food.” It’s a tip from “Dr. Woody” Woodward, Ph.D., who reminds us “it’s OK to splurge from time to time — but try to stick to healthy meals as often as possible.”

Once upon a time, that would be hard for you. But ever since science has discovered that pepperoni pizza and Chubby Hubby ice cream are great for you when eaten together in maximum doses, eating healthy should be a snap.

Thing to do No. 8 is a little creepy — “Use the time to connect with someone new,” Dr. Woody suggests. “Grab a sit-down lunch, and get to know your co-workers.”

I presume the idea here is that you join a jovial bunch of strangers during their lunch hour, which, you can be sure, they’ve carefully planned, and go into every unsavory aspect of your life story, which will open them up to tell you all the unsavory aspects of their life stories. Or, they will just get up and leave, and you can have the lunch spot for yourself. This is fine; you’ve made contact. The problems begin when your co-workers start applying for restraining orders. But this is not a negative outcome, really. Trust me, everyone in the office will know you.

Well, I see I’m only through half the things to do to productively spoil your lunch hour. I’d finish up, but it’s time for lunch.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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