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Don’t Bring In Your Lunch

This Devil’s Advocate post attacks one of the of the hallmark money saving ideas for the working professional: bring in your own lunch. The money you save by not buying a $5 – $10 lunch every day amounts to over a thousand dollars a year in savings ($5 x 48 weeks x 5 days = $1200). It’s hardly bad advice and practically unassailable from a financial standpoint, but there are many reasons why you shouldn’t bring in your lunch every day and eat it at your desk.

Socialize & Network

Lunch is one of the best ways to efficiently spend time socializing with your co-workers without sacrificing any productivity. While you can certainly chat over your morning coffee or tea, nothing beats a solid half hour (or hour or more!) of spirited discussion over some sandwiches. Also, while you’re off-site eating lunch, you and your co-workers can drop your guard a little as there’s a smaller chance one of the big wigs is going to wander on by as you discuss the latest presidential debate or the recent bailout bill failure.

Socializing with your co-workers is crucial in today’s working environment. Your demeanor and how well you get along with other people is just as important as the skills you bring to the table. A really qualified worker isn’t going to get the job if he’s difficult to work with and get along with. By networking with your coworkers, you may find yourself being asked to join teams you otherwise wouldn’t have even heard of.

Get Up & Move Around

Sitting at your computer all day isn’t great for you. Have you ever heard of thrombophlebitis [3]?

Thrombo means “clot.” Phlebitis is inflammation of a vein. Thrombophlebitis (throm-bo-fluh-BI-tis) occurs when a blood clot causes inflammation in one or more of your veins, typically in your legs. On rare occasions, thrombophlebitis (often shortened to phlebitis) can affect veins in your arms.

The affected vein may be near the surface of your skin (superficial thrombophlebitis) or deep within a muscle (deep vein thrombosis, or DVT). A clot in a deep vein increases your risk of serious health problems, including a dislodged clot traveling to your lungs and blocking an artery (pulmonary embolism)

In other words, it’s a blood clot in one of your veins that, when dislodged, could go to your heart and give you a heart attack. It happens when you have a prolonged period of inactivity, such as when you’re sitting on a long airplane flight, and experts advise that you take little walks on the plane so that you don’t develop these things in your legs.

You probably don’t sit on a plane much differently than you do at your desk, huh?

You Need A Break

One of the great lessons I learned at college was that it didn’t matter how much time you spent on a project, it was whether or not you could complete it by the deadline. In learning that lesson, I learned the corollary which was you shouldn’t put long continuous hours on a project because you had diminishing returns. The fifth straight hour you spend on a project is never going to be better than your first and your fifteenth hour is going to be far worse than your fifth. After a certain point, you get better returns by simply taking a break (or a nap) and restarting the clock.

Work is the same exact way. You will be far more effective if you take a mid-day break to chat with your friends than if you work straight through. Heck, you don’t even need to go out to lunch, just take a walk around the office (literally around the building, if you can, not just through the hallways) and mull over the problem in your head. Studies have shown that light physical activity stimulates the mind!

There you have it, three entirely legitimate reasons why bringing in your lunch is a horrible horrible idea. Plus, think of the economy, it needs your lunch money more than you do.

(Photo wwny [4])