Take Your Full Lunch Break. Schedule Your PTO.

Christina M. Tapper
Published in
3 min readFeb 25, 2021

Black woman relaxing at home on her sofa.
Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

Many of us are either caught up in multitasking a day’s worth of work (for both for the job and home) or frozen on our couches, trying to make sense of the stunning events of the last year. Our bodies are fatigued; our minds are fogged. And while we may already have an intimate (and unfortunate) relationship with exhaustion due to oppressive societal demands, the indefatigable enervation that we are experiencing is on a whole new level.

We need rest. But we’re always telling ourselves, even subconsciously, that we don’t have the time for it.

We must make time.

If you have a job that offers paid time off, take it. Take all of it before the year is over. That is your right. If taking time off is not a feasible option right now, make sure you take breaks, especially your full lunch break. No reading emails or Slack chatting while eating. Take all of that time for yourself. That’s also your right.

I’m stating the obvious. But when it comes to prioritizing ourselves, much of the obvious things we should do, we don’t. More than half of Americans who have PTO don’t use all of it and nearly 62% of us eat at our desk while working. Those stats, of course, are from pre-pandemic times, but now? I suspect the numbers are higher, especially when there’s no delineation between work and home—for many, the kitchen table is a place for both eating and working, simultaneously—and considering the risks associated with travel. Our workdays during the pandemic have gotten longer, too, by an average of 48.5 minutes, according to research.

There will always be one more email to answer, one more Slack message to reply to, one more Zoom call to take. That’s part of capitalism. It will always ensure that you feel the pressure to be productive. Capitalism — and productivity, as Ashley Ford says — will not bring us peace. While we can’t control this systemic hold on us, we can control how we respond to it. We can resist. That, too, is our right.

Whip out your calendar. Select the days to untether yourself from work, and make sure you protect your time to rest from bosses and never-ending email chains. While you’re at it, set calendar reminders for lunch. Do it for check-ins with loved ones, meditation, workouts, and the creative and passion projects that offer peace and joy. And stick to it. Try your best to make this uninterrupted time for you. Even if it’s 30 minutes.

We’re generous with giving time to others and our work. Let’s be more generous to ourselves.

Christina M. Tapper
Writer for

Rule breaker, champion of women and education, and recovering sports journalist.