Studies have shown that once we hit 40 hours of work in one week, our return starts to diminish.

This means each additional hour we put in, is less productive than the last. Working extra hours can work for a short-term project or deadline but long-term, output will only decrease.

Being tired and stressed at work stunts creativity, concentration and productivity, directly affecting our performance and often achieves the opposite of what we are trying to, by working extra hours.

Continuously working long hours is also detrimental for our health in the long term, as it can increase our risk of low quality sleep, weight gain, and even poor mental health, stroke and heart disease.

Taking a regular lunch break and leaving work on time can help to combat these negative effects and help you to work smarter, not harder. Here’s why.

You will achieve more

An obvious reason to take a lunchbreak, is to eat lunch. Nutrition, particularly our glucose intake, directly effects our brain’s productivity. A rushed, unhealthy or altogether skipped lunch, is unlikely to   help you to do your best work that afternoon. Brain-powering foods like fish, green vegetables, non-processed carbohydrates and dark chocolate will set you up to perform all day.

Not only eating, but taking a break away from your computer will increase long-term productivity and motivation. Taking as little as just 15 minutes away from your desk will help to sustain concentration throughout the day. Taking a walk or getting outside is especially good to relax the brain and mind in a short timeframe. This is more important than ever during busy, stressful periods.

Leaving the office on time to ensure a substantial break between leaving and returning to work, has numerous benefits for your physical and mental health, giving you the chance to properly recharge and rejuvenate.

Your brain is important, look after it, so it can fire on all cylinders.

You will be happier

Spending your lunch hour with friends or co-workers will help to ease the stress and pace of your day. Venting or sharing a laugh is sure to lift your spirits. Socialising during your workday leads to many positive mental health benefits by letting you switch off from work-related things. You can then go back to your afternoon and refocus.

Leaving work on time will benefit your home life, giving you more time with family, friends or to do the things you enjoy. Being able to completely tune out from work each day, will lead to a less frustrated and more productive you, at home and at work.

Your time management skills will improve

Consistently staying late at work and working through your lunch break may mean your time management skills may not be up to scratch. It may also mean that you may not managing your workload in the best way possible.

Having a set home time and regularly taking a lunchbreak will force you to manage your day more efficiently and cut down on idle time. Work smarter, not longer. Think about ways to improve rambling meetings that suck time from your day. Pick up the phone to resolve an issue in a 5-minute chat to avoid back and forth emails.

Knowing exactly how long you will spend at the office each day, will help you to set deadlines and optimise your time. It will also help you to prioritise tasks and get things done.

If you’re a manager, lead by example. If you can show your employees that you take a lunchbreak, leave on time whilst keeping your calm and managing your workload, they will strive to do the same. Having motivated, happy, productive staff that may choose to spend their lunchtimes connecting on a personal level, will lead to a stronger long-term output from you and your team. Don’t burn out and don’t let it happen to those around you. No guilt necessary!

The Tax Institute is dedicated to supporting the career progression of women in the tax, accounting and legal professions. As the leading forum for Australia’s tax community, we are committed to representing our 12,000 members and the continuous improvement of the tax system. Find out more about the benefits membership of The Tax Institute can deliver for your role.

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