The Midday Coffee Break (MCB) is when colleagues gather for a cup of coffee and for some chit-chat every single day right after lunch. It’s kind of glue that holds the otherwise fragmented team together. It’s a ceremony, a time to relax with a full stomach. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Colleagues would discuss, among others, what is happening at home, with the kids, and at work. Why, then, I wouldn’t join the MCB? It will consume some 10 minutes from my agenda, without any serious consequences.
Well, honestly, I hate coffee. But that’s not the whole story of course. More importantly, I have other obligations and priorities…
I have a plan
If my schedule allows, I would rather go for a 10-minute walk in the nearby park to reflect on my day. I get the idea from fellow blogger Paul Minors, who advocates daily walking during office hours.
It’s kind of a routine with the aim to unplug and see the bigger picture. I simply call it my TWWT―Thinking-While-Walking-Time. (I also practice a TWCT―Thinking-While-Cycling-Time―but that’s another story.) During my weekly review, I ensure that I schedule my thinking time.
My TWWT (Thinking-While-Walking-Time) serves as a me-time when I can think out-of-the-box and it’s useful for numerous reasons.
I get back to my table with a fresh mind, often with enthusiasm. It reminds me that there is life beyond the nine to five. It also prepares me for more clever use of my time.
If you still wonder whether it’s worth your time, here is a little story about how I changed my perspective on walking.
Moderately-intense aerobic exercise (i.e. walking) has been shown to benefit cognitive function. Here is how it worked for me.
For many years I approached walking as many of us will do: an action that we got from our monkey ancestors that allows us to get from the McDonald’s to the bus. There was nothing I particularly liked about walking; it was an empty activity most of the days.
Once, however, I had to pick up some bread at a bakery that allowed me―but rather it forced me that time―to walk homeward for some 20 minutes. I’ve had a big problem in my head for months (!) and couldn’t find the answer. Five minutes before hitting home, a new idea just popped into my head that solved my entire problem the next day. It was such a liberating experience that it completely changed how I approach walking.
From that time onward, I was searching for every opportunity to integrate some walking into my schedule.
Though I skip the MCB, I won’t miss a single important message. What’s really important will reach me in some form sooner or later. My routine does allow, of course, that I socialize with colleagues on a regular basis.
What my TWWT promises, however, easily outperforms the benefits of the MCB. I get moving in a place outside the office, get some fresh air in my lungs, reflect on the happenings of the day and week, and then return to the office with a fresh mind.
There is a nice alternative to the TWWT: this is the TWWTAT (Thinking-While-Walking-Time-All-Together). Why not schedule your next meeting or brain dump outdoors?
Your one takeaway: Schedule your TWWT (Thinking-While-Walking-Time) after lunch and get moving.