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Keeping Up With Jones: Lunch Lessons
Posted Oct 5, 2011 Print Version     Page 1of 1

In recent articles, I have preached about the importance of disciplining your mind to eliminate inner distractions so that you can speed up edits and eliminate backlog. From turning off the internet to setting a goal for every hour of work, I have challenged you to implement practices that will bring you more control over your thoughts, more focus on your projects, and more time for other pursuits.

Despite your mastery of these techniques, your old habits will not go away quietly. You may find that as you defeat one, you will discover another. In dealing with their seduction and subterfuge, you are facing a long battle, so I have this homespun advice for facing a formidable bully: You better pack a lunch.

Literally, every morning, pack a lunch-before you go to work. In the war for a focused mind, one cannot neglect the battle for the belly. How you choose to eat your midday meal will affect the speed of your edits. Let's look at the numbers to see why your clients are going to be happier if your grub comes from Food Lion rather than Fuddruckers.

In preparing a brown-bag lunch, you will spend only 10-15 minutes slapping together some sandwiches, cutting up some fruit, bagging some nuts, and preparing a salad. Once you begin editing, if you keep the nuts and fruit within arms reach and snack throughout the morning, then you should need only about a 15-minute lunch break in the afternoon.

On the other hand, if you leave your workstation to grab a burger, you're going to fight traffic, wait in line, wait for the preparation of what you ordered, and struggle against traffic on the way back. By the time you have scrubbed the grease off of your fingers and started scrubbing the playhead down your timeline, you'll have spent an hour on the lunch experience-45 minutes more than you would have had you been satisfied with a PB&J and a bowl of Spring Mix salad.

Even with a conservative 30-minute differential, in a 5-day week, you are spending an extra 150 minutes slogging through traffic and waiting in lines. Over a 50-week work year, that adds up to 7,500 minutes (or 125 hours). If you undertake the traditional 40-hour work week, then you're losing 3 weeks of productivity just because you did not pack a lunch.

Furthermore, in leaving the studio, you're inviting more distractions into your life-the very thing you are working so hard to avoid! In the simple pursuit of a Big Mac, how many situations will you encounter that can suck you out of your focused mindset? First, the driver in front of you doesn't notice that the light turned green because he is texting. Second, a patron in your line takes forever to decide which value meal she will purchase. Third, the kid behind the counter messes up your order and has to bring in the manager to recalculate.

While these peccadilloes will not surface every time you step outside the door, some iteration of irritation will. With each impediment, you'll pull your mind further from the edit, and you'll find that it is harder to regain the momentum that you had established before lunch. After lunch, what may have taken you 30 minutes to edit had you eaten in-house may take you 45 minutes to complete if you dined at the Waffle House.

Chris P. JonesOn the other hand, if you spend your break at the studio, you will not open yourself up to the world of distractions that bring your editing mojo to a grinding halt. Therefore, the performance cost of eating out exceeds the travel time to and from the restaurant. If it slows you down an additional 15 minutes a day, then you're now losing almost 5 weeks of productivity a year.

Moreover, when you bring your own food, you're more likely to eat a lighter, healthier, stimulating meal. When you eat out, though, your options tend to be limited to richer, less healthy fare. In nibbling on fruits, nuts, and vegetables, one tends to become more energized, but in ingesting fatty, greasy comestibles, one's body has to work harder to digest the meal. The more energy that gets diverted to processing tacos, the less energy you have to concentrate on crafting a story. Even if you can escape the pull to take a nap, your efficiency might be compromised by 10% for the rest of the afternoon. If you lose an additional 20 minutes of performance per day, then you have now lost nearly 7 weeks of productivity a year.

Beyond the physiological and psychological justifications for packing a lunch, there is a financial rationale to it too. Compared to what you would spend
for a homemade meal, you are likely to shell out at least $5 more per fast food visit and $1 in gasoline to drive there and back. At the end of the year, you'll have blown $1,500 and added wear and tear to your automobile. If you knew that one of your employees was wasting 7 weeks of productivity and $1,500 of your after-tax dollars a year, wouldn't you feel justified in firing him or her?

Sounds like there's a struggle brewing. You better pack a lunch.

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