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How many times have you had lunch “al desko”?

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“Al desko,” an adverb or adjective that means: “while working at one’s desk in an office (with reference to the consumption of food or meals).”

We all know what it is to work almost 24/7…long days, short nights, and even shorter weekends. But it seems that the having lunch or dinner “al desko” has been finally acknowledged as one of the characteristics of workaholics everywhere. It has also been added as a new word to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2014.

“Al desko” is a sad (and I’m sure not healthy) pun on dinning “al fresco,” Italian for dinning out in the open air. Al fresco dinning usually evokes a scene from movies like Under the Tuscan Sun: a long table with a white tablecloth, homemade pasta and amazing true Italian marinara; those little white twinkling lights; a cool and bug-free Italian dusk; and wine, of course.

The epitome of a romantic dinner, al fresco dinning has now been reduced to the depressing notion of eating your lunch by your lonely self at your desk, according to an article on CNN Money. The “sad lunch” has a website called Sad Desk Lunch and even a video, which seems to have been inspired by Doctor Seuss (you can watch it below).

While you might not “have the time” to take a one hour long lunch, you can still make a healthier, livelier lunch al desko. There are even some websites and articles, like this one, that will help you to make easy-to-prepare lunches the night before.

Al desko lunching embodies what is happening in the American work culture: we are working ourselves into an early grave, not only by eating junk, but by confining our bodies and minds to a chair and computer. Is saving those 30 to 60 minutes of your lunch break really making you more productive? Or are you simply more likely to burn out? 

I think the latter. I have been a member of the al desko club since 2007 and it’s not something I’m proud of. In some instances, I’ve been eating at my desk because of tight deadlines or because the nearest place to eat is a 15 minute car ride away, which would make it a one hour and 30 minute lunch if I really took it. And dealing with all the people from the lunch hour rush stresses me out, too.

But what I’ve found is that stepping away from the desk, if only for 15 or 30 minutes, will definitely help you organize your thoughts. Have a place where you can take a short walk nearby, possibly with trees or other foliage? Do it! Walking can help improve your brain, according to The Washington Post, and it helps to bring you some clarity if you’re trying to solve a complex problem.

Another trick that I’ve found that works: window-shopping therapy. Now, I’m not talking about swiping the credit card during every lunch, but going to places that inspire and recharge you (not CHARGE you!). For example, a home décor store has visual stimulus (colors, patterns, textures) and their creativity with the displays, which help me organize my thoughts and get inspired. Or going to a shoe store — which is always dangerous because I don’t need any more shoes — takes my mind to another place that is not tied to my keyboard.

Do you have any tricks for recharging during the workday? Are you also a member of the al desko club and are you doing anything to cancel that membership ASAP?

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