By Anne Mulliner, author of ‘Empowered! How to change your life in your coffee break’

Okay, okay before you laugh out loud asking “what’s that then?” take a minute to read through the tips and ask yourself who owns the responsibility to manage your career and decide whether you can have a lunch break? You do!

Tip 1 – Have a plan! The reason many of us don’t take a proper lunch break is because we don’t plan what we could do with it. It is easy to fill it with work stuff and all we are talking about is how you would spend the 30-60 minutes you are allowed. Bolting a quick sandwich in less than two minutes does not constitute a lunch break.

Tip 2 – Checking in. I’m a great believer in people. Therefore, I have always assumed when people get up and come to work in the morning, their intention is to do the best job they can. But unplanned stuff happens that can affect our motivation and how we behave. Therefore, having a few minutes during the course of the day just to check in with yourself is vital to make sure you are showing up in the best way for yourself. Turn off your phone and just allow yourself some time to be quiet – if anyone is desperate to speak to you, they can leave a message and you will automatically be more desirable!!

Tip 3 – Mentor / Mentee. I strongly recommend finding a Mentor. These are people who might have different experience to yourself, but who usually have strengths in areas you need to develop. I used to make time to have lunch every couple of months with either my own Mentor. or with one of the people I was acting as a Mentor for. The benefit of being a Mentor is you get useful leadership experience in developing someone else and you can practice a key element in building trust in relationships with others - being selfless.

Tip 4 – Professional meetings / Networking – Look for lunchtime meetings, or networking events to support your professional development. They are a great way of growing your personal network, especially if you use tools like Linkedin to reinforce the connection and may offer access to different career opportunities in the future.

Tip 5 – Change the scene. Many people sit at their desks and eat their lunches without even taking a break. This doesn’t allow you to create clear thinking in your head. Wherever I am I always try and grab at least 20 minutes break every day and whenever possible, I will find somewhere other than my desk to eat. I always stretch my back and shoulders out and take a minute to look up – this always helps especially if I have been dealing with something difficult or frustrating and often gives me new perspective.

Tip 6 – The ears have it! Completely switching off for even 20 minutes with some headphones in your ears while you eat some lunch listening to music, a podcast or an audio book will work wonders for your energy and creative levels and it will help you look forward to the afternoon too.

Tip 7 – Sustain yourself. Lots of people skip lunch either because they believe they are too busy or have too much on. Fluids are essential to maintain concentration. Grab a sandwich or soup to top up your energy levels and actually take the time to enjoy it, if you can catch up with friends at the same time it doubles up as social time too.

Tip 8 – Exercise. Whenever possible get yourself moving. Whether it’s nipping to the gym or just getting out for a walk in the fresh air, exercise is a great way to boost your energy and motivation levels especially as these can dip in the afternoons.

Tip 9 – Personal stuff – Sometimes it isn’t possible to do everything you need at weekends, or in the morning and evenings, therefore, your lunch break is the prefect time to run errands, make calls and generally keep on top of your personal stuff.

Tip 10 – Have one! If you don’t take anything else away from this article my number one tip is that at least twice a week as a minimum, you need to have a proper break at some point for between 20-60 minutes and if you use the steps above you will shine brighter. You know you are worth it!

Anne Mulliner is the author of “Empowered! – How to change your life in your coffee break” (£12.99 Panoma Press) and is an award-winning executive coach and leadership development expert, who works with clients all over the world, sharing her passion for getting them to access their full potential and live life at 10 out of 10. For more information visit http://www.jdicreativesolutions.co.uk/