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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

7 Sites to Check Out on Your Lunch Break

It’s Tuesday, quite possibly the worst day of the week. The warm afterglow of the weekend has faded, and the it’s-not-even-hump-day-yet blues have settled in. What’s worse, you’re taking your lunch break at your desk. After clicking through The New York Times and scrolling halfheartedly through the J.Crew sale section all morning, you’re just not sure the Internet can provide you with the stimulating distraction that an inspired young woman needs.

That’s where we come in. If you find yourself stymied during your lunchtime search for interesting websites—those that depart from your standard news and shopping go-tos—look no further: Here are our seven favorite sites to visit on your lunch break, coffee break, or any other time you just need a break.

1. Lifehacker

It seems that the masterminds at Lifehacker live your life—they just live it better. It would be quicker to list off what types of advice this savvy site doesn’t provide than what it does—it’s archives are replete with tips and tricks to be more productive, more organized, more efficient, and generally more informed. The “Clever Uses” category shares brilliant ideas for resolving issues you barely even knew you had, such as hanging pots and lids together to save space, using wax paper to clean your floor when you’ve run out of Swiffer sheets, and splitting an old desk into two nightstands. The site also features DIY projects, personal finance lessons, crash courses in practical lessons (e.g. how to fix a stuck zipper), and more.

2. Design*Sponge

Come to this site for all things pretty. This home and life design blog—the creative juices of which have recently filled a book—offers unique, modern ideas for creative types. Hailed as the “Martha Stewart Living for the Millennials” by The New York Times, all of the recipes, crafts, and projects are all wonderfully relevant—even if you don’t (yet) have your dream kitchen. Get ideas and ogle over pictures of pretty products and places and spaces, before and after their makeovers. If you’re short on time, you can plan your “trip” to the site by clicking on what you want to do (decorate a room, plan a meal, mix a drink, or plan a party). And the coolest part of the D*S venture? The scholarship program developed by its founder, Grace Bonney, helps support art and design students.

3. Mental Floss

You’ll want to bookmark and check this site throughout the day, not just at lunchtime. Its tagline, “Where Knowledge Junkies Get Their Fix,” is perfectly apt—Mental Floss is chock-full of random, fascinating facts that will keep you exclaiming “Wow—I didn’t know that!” all day long. The featured articles include semi-longform prose, quick lists, quizzes, and cheat sheets on topics ranging from Ulysses (The Guy, as opposed to Ulysses: The Book—another cheat sheet) to the Magna Carta. The best part: the Daily Flossing, which includes a roundup of links to morning news highlights, a lunchtime quiz, and fun, informative brainteasers. Come early and come often to stock up on cocktail-party trivia and general life tidbits.

4. Sporcle

At first glance, it seems that this site is all fun and games. It’s a compilation of timed quizzes—where you can race against yourself and view your stats at the end—such as “Can you name the scrambled candy bars?” and “Harry Potter Minefield.” While you can make your Sporcle experience merely entertaining, you can also use it to learn something new or to do mental gymnastics as you attempt to remember high school geography or history lessons. This is a truly stimulating site for smart girls who, after all, just want to have fun.

5. Brain Pickings

This site is an excellent choice for a longer break, when you’re in the mood to learn something rare, fascinating, and in-depth. Beautifully written, well-researched, and varied, the long articles such as Remembering One of the Greatest Science Writers of All Time—a paean to the lesser-known lepidoptery talents of novelist Vladimir Nobokov—sometimes feel like excerpts from particularly fascinating lectures at a liberal arts college. The site is completely ad-free, and is a pure celebration of unadulterated knowledge.

6. Pinterest

How do you spell “guilty pleasure?” P-i-n-t-e-r-e-s-t. This online pinboard compiles pictures that web-surfers have picked, annotated, and “pinned” up. Scroll through the variety of topics—Art, Food & Drink, Geek, and Weddings and Events, among others—and feast your eyes on the pretty pictures and ideas presented. A caveat: because the pictures link to external blogs and websites, this site can be a serious time sink. On the bright side, a quick scroll might add a few blogs from previously uncharted web territory to your regular repertoire.

7. Corporette

Self-described as “a fashion and lifestyle blog for overachievers,” Corporette helps women who, despite their overflowing closets, continuously proclaim that they have “nothing to wear.” The site dives into business-wear detail with topics such as 10 Things To Know About Wearing Button-Down Shirts (who knew there was more than one thing to know?), open forums about wearing ponytails at work, and the endless search for comfortable heels. Plus, you’ll find advice for uniquely feminine problems, such as Staying Warm in a Freezing Office (seriously—why is the temperature only set for wool-suit-wearing men?), how to look professional when you’re pregnant, and how to fix that gap in your button-down blouse.

Feature photo courtesy of Rob Pearce.