extend lunch break

How to Extend Your Lunch Break

Employees are often given one hour for lunch, but that time can be extended without anyone noticing.

If you work a typical desk job and don’t have to punch a timecard, you’re likely on the honor system when it comes to taking breaks. A standard office will permit employees one hour of time to take a lunch break. While one hour to step away and fill your gullet with food sounds like plenty of time, many times an individual needs a little more time, whether to take a nap, run errands, go to the gym, or return home.

The one-hour lunch break privilege can easily be exploited, buying one’s self extra time, by following a few simple pointers.

How to extend lunch break without anyone noticing

It should go without saying that it’s wrong to break the rules, and getting caught could result in write-ups, stern talking-tos, revoking of certain privileges, or even firing. It must also be noted that the aforementioned tips are rendered useless if any sort of camera system is in use. Having said that, any of these tips, or combinations thereof, can be helpful in landing you precious extra minutes of free time.

  • Leave when no one is watching. The golden rule to extending lunch is simply to be neither seen nor heard, in other words, slipping out at the most opportune time. If no one saw you leave, they surely won’t be able to pinpoint the exact moment you left.
  • Wait until your supervisor leaves on break. If your boss leaves for lunch at 12:00, make sure you’re still highly visible and hard at work at that time. At 12:03, when it’s apparent that he’s off the premises, begin your break. When he returns at 1:00, he’ll have no way of knowing whether you left at 12:01 or 12:59.
  • Milk both ends of break. If you typically leave for lunch at 12:00 and return at 1:00, try leaving at 11:55 and returning at 1:05. No one will think much of five extra minutes on either end, but that’s a full ten extra minutes for your leisure.
  • Continue to check in over break. Taking a moment once or twice during your break to send a quick email or submit a project will signify to your employer that even though you aren’t visible at your desk, you’re still hard at work. For all they know, you’re buried away in a meeting or a conference room. Either that, or they realize you’re on break but are still working diligently from wherever you’ve gone—the sign of a true hard worker.
  • Return at some point during break and make sure you’re seen. If you’re out running errands, you could consider splitting it up and coming back to the office, giving the illusion that you had been in a meeting or something and haven’t even left on break yet. Then, take your full hour afterwards to complete your tasks.
  • Blame your car. Texting the boss during your obnoxiously long break to tell him you were pulled over for speeding, got hung up at the DMV, are fixing a flat tire, or something else unforeseen came up car-related is a surefire excuse. Sending a fake photo of a random flat tire or long line can help sell your story.
  • Try some partial honesty! “I’m going on break now. I have an important errand to run, so I apologize in advance if I’m five or ten minutes late,” you say to the boss. When that ten minutes turns into twenty, who would ever notice?
  • Accomplish something noteworthy immediately before leaving. Submit a big project, complete a long-term task, or something else that will draw you high accolades before taking off. That way, when you’re finally seen on-site, people will be tracking you down to congratulate you rather than inquire as to your whereabouts.
  • Offer to run a work-related errand on your break. No one can question your lengthy break when you were known to be doing something legitimately work-related. Whether picking up an order of business cards or running a personal errand for a boss, it’s a surefire excuse.
  • Bring a treat to share. Upon returning from your mysteriously long lunch break, all will immediately be forgiven if you show up with cookies, ice cream, or even alcohol for the team.

If all else fails, sometimes honesty really is the best policy. Owning up to your negligence and apologizing may be a better route than anything dishonest. Use your best judgment, and make sure you come back to work refreshed!

My Hot Take

At my first job, I was fairly overqualified for a lot of the tasks of the job and found myself completing my day’s work within several minutes of sitting down. Needing to get out of the office and keep myself sane, I’d frequently take breaks upwards of 90 minutes so I could get in a full workout at Lifetime Fitness. My boss also eventually began going to the gym, so we’d oftentimes carpool. When the boss is along, there’s no need to even have an excuse!


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