Call it a New Year’s resolution or whatever, but I’ve recently adopted the rule of no food (coffee and water are still fair game) at my desk. I’m always looking for ways to work smarter and maximize my productivity. The “no food zone” strategy will (hopefully) help me optimize my time in front of my Macbook.
Are you an at-your-desk diner?
Here are five very good reasons not to eat at your desk:
You deserve—and need—a break.
By now, you’ve probably heard about the Pomodoro Technique or similar approaches to working. They advocate breaking the time you work into a series of short intervals intermixed with short rest periods. That M.O. has been proven to improve mental acuity and help you stay more fully focused on your tasks.
When you’re eating at your desk, you can call it “working through” all you want, but chances are you’re not focused on your work enough to accomplish much of anything. Instead, schedule work sessions and break periods for yourself. Then work during your work sessions and eat (away from your desk) during break periods.
It can make you sick.
I found several articles (including this one by Huffington Post and this one by the Advisory Board Company) that reference research indicating your desk may harbor 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat. Gross, right? You wouldn’t eat on your toilet (I sure hope not anyway), so don’t make your desk your dinner table either.
It can expand your waistline.
According to the Daily News, a British survey revealed that one-third of people who ate at their desks consumed more than 1,200 calories during a typical workday. My understanding is that included lunch and snacks; add breakfast and dinner to the equation and the calories really escalate. And eating at your desk can make you less attentive to the nutritional value of the foods you’re eating. You might be more inclined to grab a bag of chips rather than veggies and a good protein source.
It can feed the procrastination monster.
Eating at your desk diverts your attention from what you should be concentrating on when working. It can become an enabler to procrastination, a way to steer clear of the task at hand when you don’t really feel like tackling it. Oh, but that task won’t magically disappear like that bag of microwave popcorn you chowed down on at 2:15 p.m. You’ll be stuck sitting at your desk longer because you didn’t stay focused. Eating at your desk is essentially multitasking. And, according to a Stanford University study, multitasking makes people less—not more—productive.
Crumbs. Dripping condiments. Sticky fingers. Ick. Need I say more?
I’m not suggesting that you don’t eat during your workday. Goodness no! But why not eat somewhere else? Your kitchen or dining room (if you’re a work-at-home type like me), your office’s lunchroom, a picnic table, a friend’s house, or a restaurant are viable options. By taking your dining activities away from your desk, you just might find yourself more productive—and you might enjoy your food a good bit more, too.
By Dawn Mentzer
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