Studies show that taking a lunch break is crucial to employee productivity and happiness, yet many people often work right through lunch, or neglect to take advantage of their full midday break time because eating lunch doesn’t take an entire hour, and what else would people do for the remaining 30 to 40 minutes? Every office is different in both the availability of places to store lunch and a relaxing place to partake of it. Even still, others are lucky enough to work within a short distance of where they work, so going home for lunch is the most feasible and sanity-keeping option.

I am one of those that is lucky enough to work exactly three miles from my office, from driveway to parking lot. Until just recently, I enjoyed a guilt free jaunt home for lunch nearly every day, only not going home on days that I had lunch with friends, or when I chose to run errands instead. Now, with gas pricing shooting towards four dollars and a recent fill up of my small SUV ringing in at $50, I am starting to question the worth of driving back and forth twice a day. It may only be three miles one way, but why not cut the driving down by half?

Part of the reason that I prefer to go home for lunch is that I do not have an office of  my own. I have a front desk type position, with no door to close. If I don’t leave (or hide), I don’t get an uninterrupted hour. Another reason is that I got out of the habit of making enough food for a leftovers lunch, and I got used to not having to plan ahead to pack a lunch. When I worked my last job, I rarely went home for lunch unless it was to scour the Internet for other jobs. I was in the swing of packing a lunch, taking it, and staying in the building for nine solid hours.

Times are taking their toll, and I am going to have to start staying at work for lunch at least two to three days a week to alleviate the pains of having to shell out inane amounts of money at the gas station on a weekly basis. And that being said, I need a plan to keep myself on track. I have a few things I’ll have to adjust to and keep in mind:

  • Better menu planning = better lunches to bring, less temptation to go get something else
  • Finding somewhere to eat- Summer’s coming in South Carolina, but for the time being I can eat outside for some respite. There are also some intermittently empty offices when people are out, but that might be weird.
  • Bringing entertainment- I used to read books or magazines every day at lunch, or crochet, but with going home, I stopped keeping up with having a steady supply of reading/crocheting material around. The internet is good entertainment, but to utilize that, I’d have to sit out in the open at my computer and fend off requests and questions.

And I hope to be able to start bringing lunch more often and still enjoying a full relaxing hour, because the alternative is getting more expensive every day. I admit that peace of mind has a price tag, and the price of mine just may start going up if this experiment fails. Do you think it’s more important to save money on gas, or to save your sanity and get away for an hour?