Friday, April 1, 2011

Running through lunch

Today I decided to start taking advantage of my new LA Fitness gym membership and squeeze in a few extra miles on my lunch break, with very positive results.

When I've tried to do this with other gyms it's been too rushed and a little stressful, but this gym is close enough that I can get there within ten minutes, and changed within three.

Today I ran for 45 minutes on the treadmill, getting 5 miles in. All told, I was back at work inside of 80 minutes, and considering this included me getting hopelessly lost as I tried to make my way back though the hall of mirrors and corridors they call a cardio-wing in search of the women's locker rooms, I think that was pretty slick. Next time, I can probably shave that down to a 75-minute-or-less round trip.

Not only was it a great way to get a few extra miles in, but it invigorated my spirit, and I went into my 1PM meeting fresh and energized.

In a typical day, however? I'll usually work through lunch, eating on my feet at my stand-up desk, or as I talk (again on my feet) with our graphic designer, who works next to me. I do this from feeling like there's too much work to be done to leave... but oddly enough, it does not seem to result in more work being done.

More often, it's the opposite - when no break is taken I find my ability to focus peters off slowly but surely through the afternoon, and with that, so dwindles productivity, much as I try to fight it.  

Seems slightly obvious, when you think about it.

Today, however, there was no struggle there - my lunchbreak workout boosted my energy levels significantly and helped me maintain focus in the afternoon's meetings; convenient, because my 1PM meeting was an important one.

The meeting was with our regional sales directors and executives, and we were meeting to discuss recent challenges we've faced in the market. Pretty typical stuff, but serious nonetheless, and important.

Of course, it's always serious and important - after all, it's business. There are numbers to be hit; growth plans to be fulfilled, and by golly, I'm going to do what I can to help our team hit those goals.

So, when our VP of Sales approached me after the meeting to get my feedback, I was ready to give it to him... along with some thoughtful suggestions on how I thought the meeting had gone and how it could be more productive next time. 

Now, could I have provided the same quality recommendations without getting in my running workout? Perhaps... I'm not a total idiot without my run, after all, all evidence to the contrary. But still, I believe it boosted mental focus and allowed me to be a little sharper, a little more energized than I would have been otherwise.

Certainly, it didn't hurt. More likely, it helped.

Like the vast majority of us in employment, it's important - not only to my company, but to my family - that I do a good job. And that's why it's also important to take these breaks between work to give my mind and body a chance to re-energize and re-focus.

Working through lunch breaks isn't the answer, not if it's going to result in a less productive afternoon. Unless there's an immediate task to be finished, it's better to use that time to re-focus, then come back and hit the afternoon hard.

That's my story, anyway... and I'm sticking to it.

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