Here's the thing: take lunch breaks

lunch breaksIn recent conversations with clients and at the Small Creative Business Retreat, it has come to my attention that many small business owners are not taking lunch breaks. In fact, some are not even eating lunch!

It’s time to change. I’m starting a lunch break revolution because, apparently, we need one.

I’m not going to argue with the wise people who tell you breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That would be foolish, I’m sure.

But lunch holds a very particular significance because it’s right there, smack bang in the middle of the day. Which makes it an ideal – nay – essential time for a proper break. You’ve put in the hours in the morning, and you brain and body are in need of sustenance, both food and time.

You know, if you actually employed yourself, you’d be legally obliged to give yourself at least 20 uninterrupted minutes for every 6 hours, plus tea and loo breaks.

Ask yourself right now: do you get 20 minutes off before you stop working in the evening?

And then ask yourself this: do you often feel overwhelmed, tired, unclear, unfocused, or unsure? If the answer is yes, let me suggest something… Take a lunch break!

Not just any kind of lunch break, a proper one. One in which your brain gets to slow down and relax a bit, or your hands get a good rest. A break that allows you to return to the land of real human beings, not a one-(wo)man business machine. A break in which you breathe, notice yourself eating nourishing food, drink something lovely, and sit quietly for a moment or two.

Things that do not constitute taking a lunch break:

  • Scrolling through Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram
  • Sitting by your computer or laptop, trying to get food in your mouth without looking
  • Any kind of chore, or to do list item

If you’re currently kidding yourself that spending 10 minutes on Facebook, getting worked up about what other people are doing, is actually a lunch break, then please – stop now.

Here’s the thing…

I’m going to tell you something you may find shocking. I take a lunch break every single day, for at least 30 minutes, and usually longer. I get up, make my lunch, and I sit on my sofa – 2 metres away from my laptop and phone.

Sometimes I pull out a (non-work) book. Sometimes I make notes (but only after I’ve finished eating). I breathe. I put on fun music. I stretch.

Sometimes (here it comes) I take a 2 hour lunch break. I go to yoga, or I simply need more downtime in order for my brain and my body to return to work mode. It’s taken me a little while to know that this is okay. I started off worrying that I’d need to schedule in “make up” time so that I was “allowed” to have time off. What I’ve discovered is that having a longer break when I need one allows me to work longer, or get up earlier, without me forcing it. It happens naturally. Honest.

Here’s the bit I really want you to hear: taking lunch breaks is a way to develop self-respect and self-worth. You are worthy of time off to eat a lovely sandwich and think about daffodils! Sometimes, we all feel like we’re not “allowed” to rest, that it has to be hard and we have to suffer for it to be worth it. Sometimes, we measure our productivity on how much we sacrificed to get there. You don’t have to suffer or sacrifice downtime to be successful.

And you don’t have to wait until you magically believe you’re worth it to start taking breaks and looking after yourself. Start taking them, and the belief will start to follow. You’ll be sending yourself the message that you deserve to be cared for, and so you’ll start to feel it, too.

Maybe 2 hours is a big ask for you, but try 20 minutes at least. I dare you!

Here are some ideas:

  • Leave the building. Physically remove yourself from work to clear your head and refresh you body and brain.
  • Breathe deeply. Follow a guided meditation, or simply take big, deep breaths by yourself.
  • Plan delicious lunches. If you have something to look forward to, surely you’ll want to sit and savour it?
  • Turn off all screens. You want to be present in your break, so limit the distractions that could pull you back into work.
  • Get a dog or borrow someone else’s. Dog-walking is great, because you can concentrate on something else, and you have a moral obligation to take a break! Plus, y’know, cute.

Have a wonderful bank holiday weekend!


PS If you’re still thinking ‘Yeah, right, how unrealistic, there’s no way I could do that, it’ll ruin my business’, I’M TALKING TO YOU. Go back to the beginning, read again. Or email me and tell me exactly how taking 20 minutes off every day is going to ruin your business.

Here's the thing: farewell February

Honestly? This week I’ve felt pretty tired and not very organised. General feeling: not quite in the game.

I went to Budapest last weekend, which was really fun and totally cool, but took my Monday away. And on Wednesday I went to see Bespoke Verse and lots of other lovely small business owners for tea and cake. Again, a really fabulous way to spend a day!

But the net result is that I’ve been out of my nice routine that includes lots of time to get things done. Which makes me feel like I haven’t quite done enough. Can you relate?

February isn’t known to be extraordinarily busy (although I have a few clients who were rushed off their feet for Valentine’s Day this year). I certainly didn’t expect to feel run down, tired and unable to catch up.

At Christmas, sure, and in the run up to it. I prepare, and give myself lots of cushioning and nice stuff. But I wasn’t expecting it now.

So on Thursday I was determined to get back to my routine, with a slow morning and the bare minimum of tasks (so that I would have plenty of time to ease into it).

I’m reminding myself that I don’t have to do it all right away. An epic to do list rarely gets me motivated, so I’m sticking to essentials and things I really want to do.

This afternoon, I’ll spend half an hour writing little notes to people who’ve made my February enjoyable. A little ritual to say farewell to the month just gone.

How will you say farewell to February?

Was it a good month for you? Are you glad to see the back of it?

Are you ready to come out of hibernation, into Spring? If not, what do you need to get you there?

I’d love to hear about your routine and how you get back into it when it’s disrupted.


PS Last remaining places available for my retreat in just 3 weeks are available here. Booking has to close on Thursday 5 March, and there are only a handful left. Time to book your spot!


Enter The Forge

Life's too damn short to chase someone else's definition of success. I'm here to give you the courage and tools to forge your own path.