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  • Writer's pictureJamie Roberts

Want to Boost Your Creative Value? Get Sweaty At Lunch

For the last 10 years of my creative professional career I’ve used my lunch hour for exercise. I’ve walked, run, cycled, danced, boxed, practiced yoga, sweat to the oldies–you name it. I’ve received both ‘wow-you-go-girl’ encouragement and ‘yuck-that-sounds-awful’ admonishment from coworkers, both ultimately expressing how the change, sweat, shower and change routine in the middle of the day seemed like something they could never get used to.

That’s initially what I thought when I started. But after a decade of working through every excuse (and I mean every excuse) and perfecting a midday exercise routine I could actually stick to, I can confidently say that these lunchtime sweat sessions have been a key contributor to my success as a strategic creative leader in a number of organizations.

Excuse #6: But I get more done when I work through my lunch.

According to a recent FitBit survey, only 15% of office workers are active at lunch. You may think that working through lunch means you’re increasing your productivity, but studies show that while you may get further along on a specific project, your overall focus starts to fade much earlier in the afternoon than if you gave your brain a midday break. Combine this break with the added bonus of endorphins created by physical activity, and you have the winning mix for an afternoon of solid creative focus and killer problem-solving skills.

Excuse #5: But I’m usually hungry by lunchtime.

So you’re saying you never skipped out on dinner to meet a friend at a gallery opening or drive your kids to soccer practice? And what did you do about food? You planned ahead. Nutritionists have been preaching for years about the benefits of eating several small meals a day as opposed to 3 large ones. Healthy grazing during the mornings and afternoons will keep you continually energized while also helping to avoid the 3pm “food-coma” slump that undoubtedly derails your creative output and severely limits idea generation.

Excuse #4: But it’s not easy to change (and shower) in the middle of the day.

It’s no secret that we humans are generally interested in only adding things to our routines that take little to no effort. Companies spend millions pandering to our laziness by positioning their brands around ‘making things easy’ for consumers. But the truth is that we will repeatedly do things that are not quick or easy if we can identify a high value– like hand-washing your car or baking from scratch. If you train yourself to focus on the value that midday exercise has for your overall creativity, this addition to your routine will cease to be an addition.

Excuse #3: But I always have lunch meetings.

Who said you have to take lunch exactly at noon? In this day and age, most companies and agencies work nationally or globally, across multiple time zones, generating meetings that creep into the lunch hour. Unless you have a single midday conflict that is several hours long, just flex your schedule to squeeze in a lunch break before or after your noon meeting. Blocking your calendar every day for an hour “workout-lunch” will train your brain to save time for this, and you can move it accordingly based on your other meetings. Pumping those endorphins sometime midday also guarantees that you’ll return to work with a different perspective and more inventive solutions to your projects.

Excuse #2: But it’s easier to just eat at my desk and keep working.

I didn’t go into the design field because I’m an expert at math. But I do know that when you divide things up into smaller segments they become more manageable. This is exactly what lunchtime workouts will do for your workload. Focusing 4-5 hours in the morning and 4-5 hours in the afternoon is going to ensure that you have TWO concentrated creative peaks during the day. Additionally, the endorphins from lunchtime exercise will also boost productivity in the afternoon and keep you from feeling burned out by 4pm. This also ensures that those extra-long days at the office will be a lot less mentally exhausting, and your decision-making skills will remain razor-sharp late into the evening.

Excuse #1: But I could just skip my lunchtime workout and go after work instead.

On the days where I made the mistake of skipping my lunchtime exercise, I always had great intentions of hopping on the gym treadmill or running a few miles as soon as I left work. These intentions diminished over the last few hours of the day, leaving me too tired to do anything but fight traffic on the drive home. Timing is indeed everything, and the easiest way to stick to this routine is to treat it like your morning coffee stop or evening dog walk: it’s happens every day at roughly the same time. Also telling coworkers about your lunchtime workout helps to keep you accountable. So when you’re still hunched over your desk at ten after twelve, they’ll likely ask you when you’re going for your workout, making you feel awkward for avoiding it

So whether it’s a low-impact walk around the office park, or a high-intensity Zumba class, you will be amazed at what regular intervals of midday exercise can do for your creativity. And if you are constantly producing mindful, eye-opening, ultra-creative content, you’ll be happier with your overall work contribution and your value to your company and clients will be higher. Win-win.

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