Reaching the heights of success takes time. Fortunately, you can shorten the journey by making the best use of your lunch hour. If you’re like most people, then you have five hours per week that you can use to reach your goals faster. Read on to discover how to make the best use of your lunch hour to get ahead.

1. Leave the office

Physically leaving the office is a fundamental habit to making a good use of your lunch hour. Leaving the office gives you a break from distractions and an opportunity to refresh yourself. If you simply sit at your desk for lunch every day, you can expect managers and coworkers to ask you to do more work.

What about those times when you simply have to stay at the office? There are ways to work around that requirement (see the next tip).

2. Do a weekly review / journal

Maintaining control and perspective over your life doesn’t have to be hard. That’s why successful people have mastered review habits. For example, you can review the past week’s sent emails during lunch to determine what follow up actions are needed. Alternately, you can review your calendar of appointments for the rest of the week. Both of these practices put you back in command of your time!

3. Get some exercise

Successful people know that exercise is vital to maintaining mental focus and health. Successful people get exercise during lunch in several ways, such as going to a fitness class, going for a walk and even putting in a few quick push-ups. I walk my dog. Exercise is also a great way to cope with stress. Some companies like HBO offer onsite yoga classes. Take the time to ask your HR department about the company’s wellness program, you don’t know what’s available until you ask.

4. Build career assets

Assets are resources that grow in value over time. For example, an income real estate property is an asset. You can also build career assets. Checklists are a resource that successful people regularly use to avoid mistakes and guarantee high quality. The time you invest to build a career asset will save you plenty of time in the future.

Here are other career assets you can build over your lunch hour:

Standard Operating Procedures: a sequence of steps that explains how to do important parts of your job. These procedures can cover how to produce reports, your personal sales process and other aspects of your work.
Career Portfolio: a collection of documents (e.g. performance reviews, copies of emails from happy clients, PowerPoint presentation templates) that prove all of your skills and accomplishments.
Professional Contact List: write up a contact list (use a paper notebook or a spreadsheet to start with) of the 100 most important people in your career–include their name, title, company, phone number and email address. If you are laid off suddenly, you will need a copy of that information at home for reference.

5. Build relationships

Breaking bread and sharing a meal with another person is one of the best ways to build a relationship. Successful people know that meeting somebody once at an event is just the start of building a relationship. The next step is to spend more time with that person. Lunch is a great way to develop a relationship because people tend to open up about their lives and go beyond business concerns.

6. Eat for health, not entertainment

What you eat for lunch has a significant impact on your results. That’s why successful people tend to avoid pasta and other carb-heavy meals at lunch. To improve your energy and keep moving, eat almonds, walnuts but only small amounts though ;-). Relying on sugar to get you through the day is simply not effective.

7. Run personal errands

Successful people understand the importance of staying focused at work. That’s why they avoid making personal phone calls during business hours (or leaving the office) as much as possible. However, we all know that life is full of pressures. For example, you may need to pick up prescriptions. One way to improve your productivity is to use a pharmacy nearby your office, so you can go there during your lunch break. To take this principle a step further, adapt Mike Hardy’s time chunking approach. For example, you could designate the Friday lunch hour for personal errands and reserve Monday lunch hours for professional growth. As they say, work all the time you’re at work because it’s not the hours you put in, it’s what you put in the hours.

8. Nap

Successful people understand the value of being well-rested. Putting in a 20-30 minute nap does a great deal to increase your productivity and mental clarity. Specifically, napping has been shown to improve heart health and improve productivity.