Today we have a guest editorial from Andy Warren
For most of my work life I've tried to join colleagues at lunch, occasionally working through lunch or enjoying a quiet lunch with my wife. Its good time, social time, where relationships are built. Building relationships (aka networking) is a wise investment, especially when you can combine it with something you were going to do anyway. It's such a good idea that there is a book about it; Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time.
My view on that time has changed some over the past few years. Initially it was just driven by logistics, if I wasn't teaching a class I was working solo, so coordinating a lunch with someone took more effort than just going down the hallway to see who was hungry. Eating alone takes a little bit of practice, the tendency is to eat and be done, finishing up an hour lunch in 20 minutes!
As I looked at my options reading seemed the logical choice, nice simple logistics. That started a pattern I continue today, keeping a book in my bag and in the car, taking time to read for 20-30 minutes at lunch 3-4 days a week. It's usually business or technical reading, not the newspaper or a novel.
It's a big part of my professional development plan. If I can read for 20 minutes twice a week, for 48 weeks a year, that's thirty two hours a year of reading and learning that I can fit into my day. I don't read every day. Some days I try and just can't get into it, some days I need some company and some small talk, and some days I go over my notes and my todo list.
How often do you eat alone and what do you do with your time? Or would you rather spend it with colleagues, or perhaps you skip lunch altogether so you can get done sooner?