January 15, 2019

Crumbs (and other reasons not to eat at your desk)

Reading time: 2 minutes

Crumbs are a very good reason not to eat at your desk. Here we give you a few more! Have a little read and see if you agree.

A duotoned dark purple and beige version of the Apple sandwich emoji, in front of a blue zig zag shape across the bottom

Imagine the smell of a rich, hearty vegetable soup, with plenty of herbs and spices, maybe a side of garlic bread. Imagine the garlic bread has just a little bit of melted cheese on top. And some extra salt. Now imagine slurping a generous spoonful into your mouth and… onto your desk.

Let me rewind, here’s the honest truth: I eat at my desk all the time. Usually breakfast, sometimes lunch, and many snacks. It’s a bad habit and I’m keen to break it. So first I need to understand, why on earth do I do it? Why, Jess, why?

Reason #1: It makes me think I’m saving time by multi-tasking.

…actually, that’s it. That’s the only reason. And I’m here to dispel this myth by outlining why it’s wrong. Here we go:

1. “Multi-task” is code for “half-arse”

We pride ourselves on busy-ness and the ability to do many things at once.

“No time for breakfast? I’ll just eat at my desk!”
“I’m in the middle of writing a detailed email, but I’d better answer this phone call.”
“I’ll quickly see what this Slack notification is about then return to what I was doing.”

What we are actually doing when we “multi-task” is switching back and forth between one task and another — or ‘serial tasking’ — rather than doing them at the same time. Research has shown that when we switch between tasks like this, we lose efficiency in the stopping and starting, which actually hinders productivity.

2. How we eat is as important as what we eat

When we eat mindfully, we’re paying full attention to the experience of eating and noticing how it’s affecting both our body and our thoughts. Beyond appreciating the food itself, the practice of mindful eating can help improve our posture and digestion too. It’s a win, win.

3. Taking a break can give you a new perspective

We know we should take breaks, but if you’re anything like me there will be days where you think:

“I’ll have more time to get this task done if I work through lunch”

Let’s take a moment to remember: more time doesn’t always mean a better result. We need to manage our energy as much as our time, and taking some time away from your desk has many benefits. It can give you a fresh perspective on a current problem, create some headspace to generate new ideas, and literally get the circulation flowing. And of course you also have an entitlement to take a proper break each day!

If you’re really stretched for time, at least try for a walk around the block. Or around the building. Or even your desk.

4. Literal crumbs

Crumbs are the worst. They get into your keyboard and are particularly annoying to get out. Avoid crumbs: don’t eat at your desk.

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Jess Allison

Optimist. Traveller. Dreamer. Doer. Delivery Lead (ex Digital Producer). See what else I've written here.

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