What are some interesting things I can do during a 1-hour lunch break each weekday besides dining out? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Nela Canovic, productivity hacker, writer, and Silicon Valley entrepreneur, on Quora:

Kudos -- you're already challenging the norm of most workplaces, which is eating out with co-workers, having the same types of conversations, eating food while talking (and not focusing on what you are actually eating), and then walking back to the office. Same thing, every day. And when you get back to your desk, how do you feel -- are you full of energy, is your brain powered up, is your creativity muscle working hard?

Probably not.

What if you were to treat that one hour each day as food for your body and your mind?

Here's how:

Make your own lunch and bring it to work. This doesn't even have to take long; you can prep the night before. In a glass container with a lid, pack some leftovers from your dinner with a few fresh vegetables on the side that you can dress up with some olive oil and lemon juice, or any dressing you like, or just have them to snack on (think carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, kale, olives, etc.). Or make a sandwich. Bring a snack, too. Then find a place to eat your packed lunch, maybe on a patio of your building, or on a park bench nearby, somewhere you can enjoy your meal and eat it mindfully. Benefits? It's way less expensive. It's less likely you will gain weight (which tends to happen more when eating out, mostly because you don't know all the ingredients that go into a restaurant meal, as opposed to the meal you prepare where you can choose healthier options. Not to mention the portions are bigger in cafeterias and restaurants). You focus on what you are eating, and you feel fuller than you'd feel in a more distracting environment. Time for lunch: 15 minutes.

Great! Now you have 45 minutes left. What to do?

1) Go for a walk. It's good to keep moving after a meal, and you also give your brain some much-needed rest. Monitor your steps with a pedometer or one of the many apps you can download on your phone; most phones already come with a built-in health app that automatically logs your steps daily. You will see how easily you can log the time and make progress every single day.

2) Treat your mind well. Select something interesting to listen to on your walk. It can be an audio book or a podcast. Here are some ideas:

  • Planet Money (stories on things smart people do, economics, world politics)
  • Radiolab (show about curiosity, interesting ideas, science, philosophy)
  • The Inquiry (a debate on a controversial topic in the news and 4 experts challenging each other with 2 views, for and against the topic)
  • Question of the Day (a show for people short on time and long on curiosity, with a lot of good humor in trying to answer the question at hand)
  • Achieve Your Goals with Hal Elrod (practical advice and strategies on becoming successful, interviews with famous authors and industry experts)
  • Optimize with Brian Johnson (condensed big ideas from the best books on optimal living, micro classes on how to apply these ideas to everyday life)
  • Happier With Gretchen Rubin (a fun show led by bestselling author of "The Happiness Project" with small ideas you can apply to your life to exercise your happiness muscle)

3) Dream big. In the last 5-10 minutes of walking back to your office, make a plan to dedicate an hour later in the day to something that's important to your personal development. Have you been learning to code in your spare time? Plan out your progress, think which new materials you need or which tutorial you could look up online to get you going. Are you planning a trip abroad? Brainstorm a list of things you need to do and to find out about before booking your ticket. Learning a new language? Think about who you could ask for advice on which materials are optimal for your learning experience, and plan a trip to the bookstore or library to read up on learning techniques that can impact your progress. Write down these ideas when you get back to your desk so you remember them for later.

So your lunch break is over. You are back at work. But look at how you've taken advantage of your time off. You took a much shorter time to eat lunch, you've exercised, you fed your brain with stimulating material, and you've even planned what to do later in the day that's important to you. You feel more accomplished, you've given your mind time off work so it gets the rest it deserves, and you're already looking forward to your evening. How's that for a productive lunch break?

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