On the Job: How Productive Is Your Lunch Hour?

On the Job: How Productive Is Your Lunch Hour?

Today’s post comes from Tamara M. Williams who  is an EzineArticles Platinum Level Expert Author. Her articles cover topics such as Computer and Technology and Email Marketing. Visit her profile page on EzineArticles to learn more.

A typical lunch hour is one hour. For the week, this means that you have five (5) hours to put towards a variety of goals. So how do you spend your lunchtime? Do you spend it standing in long lines to buy lunch, catching up on office grapevine discussions with co-workers, running personal errands or catching up on work duties? In order to make the most use of that one hour, you should be spending it towards improving your personal or work life.

Unproductive Tasks That Can Consume Your Entire Lunch Hour

There are many ways to spend time, but standing in a long line at a fast food restaurant, café or cafeteria consumes too much time and energy that could be invested elsewhere. Another popular activity is to spend the lunch hour completing work tasks. However, spending all day discussing work can increase your stress levels as your body and mind do not get the chance to relax. Hence, you are even further stressed when you get home. Alternatively, talking with co-workers about various general topics such as local news, the weather and gossip can also eat up your entire hour.

Simple Ways to Stop Wasting Time

Now that you have noticed various tasks that consume your entire lunch hour, you can take some simple steps to increase your efficiency. First, to reduce time spent waiting in line, order lunch and have it delivered to your company. You can also prepare meals from home and take a brown bag lunch to work. Use these time-saving tips a few days per week so that you can utilize your lunchtime more effectively.

Next, when you sit down with co-workers, decide on a maximum time to spend discussing sports, TV show episodes, work tasks or other social activities. For example, set a timer for twenty (20) minutes. Then spend the remainder of the time building up your interpersonal relationships with colleagues. This could mean asking about favourite foods, movies, hobbies, etc. You could also find out what personal tasks they need help with and offer tips or suggest products and services that you love to use. This way all persons involved are benefiting from the discussions. Finally, use this time to complete other important personal tasks such as reading a book, taking an online course or creating your shopping lists. This would greatly reduce your To Do list each week.

Use your lunchtime wisely. If you have to catch up on work tasks because of an emergency or impending deadline, then go ahead. However, it would be less stressful and more productive to work on your interpersonal relationships with colleagues and tackle some personal tasks on your To Do list. This makes your lunch hour more productive and makes your work and personal life much more relaxed.

About The Author:

Tamara M. Williams is an EzineArticles Platinum Level Expert Author. Her articles cover topics such as Computer and Technology and Email Marketing. Visit her profile page on EzineArticles to learn more.

Also by Tamara

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Productivity Tip: Improve Your Productivity at Work by Keeping Notes for Every Project You Work on

Solve Problems at Work Quickly and Efficiently by Using Online Forums and Communities

How to answer questions in an interview!

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When you are looking for work, getting an invitation to an interview is wonderful, particularly right now.  It is an achievement!

Now you need to prepare for the next stage – time to start thinking about questions you might get asked.

First, remember to keep a balanced approach!  The panel want you to succeed.  There is nothing recruiters like better than to have the candidates they select for interview, do well.

You will probably be asked a range of different kinds of questions.  Some may be simple to answer and others much more challenging;  tough questions are not asked to make you feel uncomfortable but they are meant to test you.

Sometimes, you may be put under pressure just to see how well you cope with stressful situations.  If you have applied for a high pressure job then you should expect this!  So stay calm and show them how well you would cope.

Many interviewers start the interview with “getting to know you” factual questions about your experience.  These are usually intended to put you at your ease and help you give your best.

You may well be asked why you applied for the role and you need to prepare a credible answer.  It should show you have some real interest in the organization and in the role.

Also, you may be asked why the organization should hire you.  This is your opportunity to set out your wares.  Again prepare for this.  You should make sure your answer is compatible with your application form.   It is often wise to check your application form just before the interview – just to make sure you keep your answers consistent.

You may be asked why you left your last position.  Be honest but have a care – it is never wise to be critical of a previous employer. The same thing applies, if you are asked to describe your worst boss; again have a care and give a balanced view.  Show how you have learned from experience!

If you are asked about your weaknesses, be honest and be brief.  Concentrate on a minor shortcoming that doesn’t have a profound effect on job performance.  For example, I mention that I have a tendency, in my enthusiasm, to over commit and take on too much work.  But I go on to explain that I’ve learned to pace myself.

If the role has a management or leadership element, you may be asked for an example of something you handled well.  Have some challenging examples ready to quote.

In general, where you can, use your experience in your answers as evidence of what you bring with you.

If you are asked what you are looking for in a role, have an answer ready that shows a real taste for the work and some enthusiasm.

If you are asked what you are looking financially, ask what the salary range is for the position. But be ready in case you aren’t given the information you need. Read salary surveys, government data and association reports in advance so you have an idea of what comparable jobs pay right now. That way, you can give a response that’s in line with current standards.

Remember in all your answers to treat the panel with respect; stay calm, polite and do not patronise them.

Whatever questions they ask, stay away from politics and religion in your answers!

When they are asking questions, listen carefully and take a deep breath before answering – think before your speak.  If there is something you don’t understand, then ask for clarification.

At the end of the interview, you will probably be asked if you have any questions.  These days you are expected to say yes.  Have something prepared about the role and how it might develop.  Again show a real interest in this role, these people and this organization.

Above all remember that the interviewers hope to see good candidates.  They will be willing you on to do well.

  • So you have an interview – how will you make your mark? (leavingthepublicsector.net)
  • Writing your CV! Part 1 The Basics (leavingthepublicsector.net)
  • Writing your CV! Part 2 Making Choices (leavingthepublicsector.net)
  • Writing your CV! Part 3 Pondering on CVs; language,confidentiality, competencies and referees! (leavingthepublicsector.net)

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 

Are you going to listen to me? The delicate art of communication! Giving bad news!

This week my posts are going to be about Communication and I start here with how to give the bad news – in this case seriously bad news, for example, about redundancy.

About a year ago I published a version of the post below!  It has been one of the most popular items on this site!

I started my working life as a nurse.  In those days we were given no preparation for giving bad news.  I can still remember feeling totally undone by the prospect of having to tell a young husband that his wife had died!  I was the only person there to give the message.  I did my best but to this day, I know that I could have done it better! I still remember every moment of the encounter with that poor man! So here is the advice which is now usually given to medical students in the UK and I believe nurses in training receive similar advice! It can be equally useful in the workplace.  Don’t under estimate the sense of loss and pain that accompanies news of redundancy!

This post is going to be concerned with, what John Nettles’ character described in a recent edition of Midsomer Murders as, ‘the delicate art of delivering bad news’

I covered giving feedback in a recent post and this is closely related, so you may wish to read that as well.

On most occasions when you give feedback your hearer is expecting a message of some kind – good or bad.  Bad news often comes as a shock, even if it is expected!  The reality and the details may be very hard to bear!  There is, and should be, a lot more to it than just saying or writing the words!

If you want to ensure there is the best possible outcome then you will need to prepare and to follow-up, as well as delivering the message itself well!


Preparing to give bad news is almost as important as actually giving it. For instance, where are you going to have the meeting?  Where you sit or stand in relation to the hearer and even what you wear is important, if the news is seriously bad.  If you have to write, then you need to think about the medium – this is not the time for a very brief email! You will need to think about how you are going to follow up and provide an opportunity to handle questions

When choosing a place, you should make sure it’s quiet with little or no chance of interruption. Make sure it’s some place you can make the person feel as comfortable as possible.  If possible, sit close to the person at eye-level with no barrier between you.  Studies have shown that many people feel isolated and alone if you sit behind a desk or some other barrier. They may also perceive you as cold and uncaring if you sit too far away.

Knowing how you should comfort really must come from what you know about the person!  For instance, if you’ve found they don’t like people sitting too close this may make them feel uncomfortable rather than at ease.

One thing that is important is for you to be very clear about the facts, the explanation behind a decision, for example, before you begin.  You also need to know the options open to the person.  In case of redundancy, what support can the person expect from HR?  In this example, identify an HR contact so that you can pass a name and telephone number onto the individual?

The worst thing you can do when giving bad news, is to give the individual the impression that you didn’t even care enough to find out the facts.  Know your material and don’t work from notes, if you can, on this occasion!  Notes can provide a barrier and you will not be able to judge their reactions so well!

Work out what your own feelings are about the situation before the meeting, and how to deal with them!  You want the person to know you are sorry but it isn’t fair to overwhelm them with your own grief!

Giving the news

Watching the person’s reaction and listening are very important while actually while giving bad news. Just from body language or the extent of eye contact, you can tell if they understand and accept what you’re saying and what emotions they are experiencing.   Be prepared for anger or despair with serious news.

It is really important to remember to speak clearly and slowly.  Don’t jump straight into the news – go through the usual courtesies at the beginning of the meeting.  In a letter warn them that you have bad news and say that you are sorry about it!

Throughout the meeting, ask them if they have any questions and if they understand what you’re telling them.    Don’t let your feelings weigh on the listener!


After you’ve given the bad news, don’t end the meeting abruptly. Ask again for questions or if they need any information repeated. Offer additional sources of information like pamphlets or the names of support groups if they are available. Make sure to pass on that name and contact details for HR.

Most of us feel somewhat lost after receiving very bad news.  One way to deal with this is to schedule another meeting shortly afterwards or to ring them to discuss how they are going to manage the time ahead.

At the very least you will want to make sure they understood what you told them and that they can respond to it as necessary. Then you may want to allow them some time alone! Just don’t rush them out of your office or wherever the meeting is taking place.  Take time to be kind – compassion costs us nothing!”

I would very much welcome your own tips on handling bad news and to hear your own experiences

I hope to publish the next post in this series on Communication on Wednesday 2nd March 2011