What three successful women do during their lunch hour

May 6th 2016 / Anna Hunter

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If you spend your lunch break watching cat videos, the following entrepreneurs may inspire you to rethink your daytime downtime

I for one can admit that I most certainly do not make the most of my allocated lunch hour. Either I’m faffing, procrastinating or skipping it altogether. Scheduling in a pause in the day may not always be possible, but doing so can clearly pay dividends in terms of creativity, motivation and good old endurance. Step away from the spreadsheet/ sidebar of shame and take a leaf out of the following businesswomen’s books...

Alice Olins, Journalist

Alice is a co-founder of the Step Up Club, a female network that hosts unique careers events in stylish spaces. The next Club night, in association with Belvedere Vodka, will take place at The Hoxton, Shoreditch on 14th May. Step Up’s first book, published by Random House, will be out on 7th September. Alice is also a Contributing Editor at Red Magazine.

“For me, lunch hour is a fluid concept. At the moment, I spend most of my time working on the promotion around my upcoming book, Step Up, which I co-wrote with my brilliant friend Phanella. Sometimes that means we are together at lunchtime and there’s nothing better than sitting across two plates of food (and plenty of coffee) to discuss what's next for Step Up. Our book is a sassy, new take on a female career self-help and that means we also spend plenty of lunch hours talking to inspirational women. We interviewed everyone from Bobbi Brown to the Hemsley sisters, Kirsty Young and even the late Zaha Hadid, for the book and I’m incredibly lucky that my work involves meeting women who have interesting stories to share.”

“When I’m not working on Step Up, I write my fashion features from home. At those times, my lunch break usually involves a ball of mozzarella, one avocado and plenty of time on Instagram. In my ideal world, I’d be at the gym by 1pm everyday, but gym-friendly time slots are few and far between these days.”

“Usually, my work is so manic, I’m still buzzing while I eat. Now that the weather is improving, if I’m at home, I like to throw open my big back door, sit on the step and take in the garden. It’s still very much a work in progress (when we moved in, less than three years ago, the garden had disappeared beneath brambles) but I love the simplicity and beauty of watching my little plants grow and evolve. Being aware of what goes on in our garden keep me in touch with the seasons and I find that very relaxing, plus being in the garden, even just for half an hour, never involves picking up my phone which is a release in itself.”

“A lot of my work is deadline driven and there’s nothing like a blank page in a magazine to get me in a productive mood. When I’m not typing furiously on my laptop, I keep myself motivated by changing my environment. So, if I’ve been at home in the morning, I might pop into town for a few hours at my modern shared work space on Regent Street. I find this shift helps keep my mind engaged and stops distractions setting in. Other days, I just give in to the pressure and close up early. I have two young daughters, and I love stepping away from my desk and picking them up from nursery. It’s a big mental shift going straight from work mode to Mummy mode, especially as they’re more demanding than any of my previous bosses!”

“A lunch break is very important to me, mainly because I spend a good proportion of my morning working out what I’ll eat when the time comes. I love good food, and even if I’m rushing around town on appointments, I always make a slot of time for something tasty. For me, one quick plate of sushi will always trump a whole hour with a pre-prepared sandwich.”

“If I’m really rushing I’d rather wait. I’m pretty good at sustaining myself on fruit and cappuccinos until there’s a spare moment for lunch. Having said that, journalists love working breakfasts, and for me, there’s no better way to start the day than scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, preferably somewhere old-fashioned and buzzy like The Wolseley. If I’m stocked up on a hearty brunch, I can happily work through until mid afternoon. On those days, my stars feel aligned and I’m able to enjoy some kind of work/life balance.”

Teresa Tarmey, skincare expert and A-list facialist

With 19 years of academic and hands on experience and a client list to die for, Teresa is one of London’s most prestigious and in-demand skincare experts. She has recently launched her first flagship store, located just off Westbourne Grove in London’s Notting Hill.

“I always make sure I grab an hour throughout the day, just to recharge my brain. I tend to work 10-11 hour days and need that break so that I'm fighting fit for any answers clients may ask. I don't want to be half hearted at any point because I need a break!”

“During that time I tend to have a walk and catch up on calls, plus I eat and drink a green tea. I do find it hard to switch off these days as I'm completely obsessed with new products, techniques, equipment and technology, so I’m always on the Internet. The only time that I really put my phone down is to workout.”

“I try and start my working days with a gym session. I plan my routine around it so this works for me to start first thing. I'm loving Form at the moment as it’s near my work in Notting Hill.”

“I tend to work around ten hours stints with my insisted break and genuinely keep on form all day. I have to; people pay a lot of money to come and see me and I respect that.”

“I always take a proper break around 3-4pm as I work late so need that half way stop-off. About a month ago I got tired of eating food that often looks healthy but is dubious in terms of ingredients. I've now started ordering what I call ‘proper’ food from a company called Noyo Food based in Notting Hill. They deliver three fresh meal every day. I like routine and don't have much time so this is the dream for me. When I say proper food, I'm not talking about getting a salad delivered’ I want greens, protein and hearty food. The founder makes sure I get all my nutrition without me even thinking about it. I actually save money too as all those little take outs add up!"

Vanita Parti, founder of blinkbrowbar

Credited with bringing traditional ancient Indian threading techniques to the contemporary British consumer, Vanita Parti brought the very first walk-in brow bars to the UK market, receiving MBE Honours last year for her services to the beauty industry and charity work in India.

“A lunch with old friends or a networking opportunity in some of the lovely London restaurants is normally how I use my down time. I am very lucky that all of our brow bars are in the best stores in London so I inevitably leave every visit with a shopping bag!”

“I am not sure that I ever really zone out! Getting off any devices helps but I am afraid that I am addicted to anything that influences the world of beauty. Research is an obsession. I love getting into a good book but tend to fall asleep as soon as I open it…”

“I am definitely a morning person. After school drop off, I need that coffee followed by a stiff green juice. Now that the sun is shining, I am hoping to be able to cycle through the park again to get to work. I condense my office days so try and get everything done in the first half of the week to allow me to work from home and have external meetings in the last part of the week. That works well for me and the team who get any issues ironed out and can then work independently to action items.”

“I am afraid that in general lunch breaks don’t happen very often but my lovely PA makes sure that I am fed at a reasonable time. I feel that there are no hours to be wasted and I always have the intention to pop into one of the lovely shops like SpaceNK or Daunt Books in Marylebone. This rarely happens but that would definitely be my way of taking a break.”

“Lunch is usually a soup or salad from Natural Kitchen. It all sounds very wholesome but there is inevitably a birthday celebration in the office, so a piece of cake soon follows!”

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