Careers

6 ways to boost your career during your lunch break

Eighty percent of U.S. workers don't take a lunch break.

If you're one of them, you might think working straight through the day will help you get more done, or at least help you look good to your boss. But could the decision end up hurting your career over the long term?

Stepping away from your daily tasks for 20 to 30 minutes could help you be more productive and successful, career experts and business leaders say.

Here are six career-boosting things you can do on your lunch break:

1. Send an email to an acquaintance

Networking expert, writer and investor J. Kelly Hoey says a quick email to a former colleague or acquaintance is a great way to keep in touch with your contacts.

"Start thinking of networking as muscle," Hoey tells CNBC. "Use it regularly."

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2. Grab a coffee with an expert

Hoey says that devoting 20 minutes to the occasional coffee with someone whose career you admire can give you inspiration for your own.

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3. Read a book

Consider bringing an industry-related book with you to work. Tom Corley, an accountant and financial planner who studies self-made millionaires, says that successful people read everyday. In fact, scientific studies show that reading boosts your creativity and vocabulary and reduces stress levels.

Plus, reading a book about your sector could teach you new skills.

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4. Tune out

Taking a moment away from your work email and social media is a great way to reduce stress, according to Brian Wong, 25-year-old CEO and co-founder of mobile advertising app Kiip.

"Stop trying to be in touch with everybody all the time," he writes in his book, "The Cheat Code." "Information overload is causing short-term memory loss, higher stress and worse health."

He suggests leaving your phone at your desk while you take a short break.

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Writing an essay

5. Draw out your professional goals

If you're feeling stuck in the daily grind at work, take the advice of a former Google career coach and job strategist who's helped thousands of professionals advance their careers. Workplace expert Jenny Blake recommends professionals make a "mind map," a visual diagram of your interests and goals. Drawing one doesn't take long and could help you figure out the next project, hobby or career change, Blake says.

She says it's her "favorite way to brainstorm creatively" and check in on her own personal goals.

Andrea Kramar, CNBC

6. Make plans or pursue a hobby

Finding more time for hobbies is a great way to get your mind off work-related stress, Blake says. If you haven't exercised lately or made time to see friends, use your lunch break to make plans or research activities.

Having something to look forward to, she says, will make you use your time more productively.

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Check out how to improve your personal finances during your lunch break