On any given day, our mind is constantly pulled from one important thing to another. The endless thinking, processing, analyzing, reacting, and ruminating may often leave us feeling exhausted, stressed, burnt out, or depressed.
Mindfulness, or being fully aware of the present moment, is a simple, easy to learn, and practical tool that will quiet the mind and help you take an active role in your own focus, engagement, and productivity. You don’t have to be an advanced yogi or daily meditator to reap the benefits of practicing mindfulness in your everyday life. Practicing mindfulness is something that can be started by anyone at any time.
Mindfulness research indicates that increased focus and engagement can lead to an increase in overall productivity. The more you practice mindfulness, the more you hone your skill to focus. This is one of the reasons that mindfulness has been adopted by the corporate world and is now being taught at major companies like Apple and Google.
According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness based meditation can increase focus, decrease stress, improve cognition, and improve interpersonal relationships. Incorporating mindfulness techniques throughout your work day will positively impact your attention, focus, perceived engagement with work and coworkers, and ultimately your overall well being.
Mindfulness means moment to moment awareness: Paying attention to what’s happening in the present rather than being caught up in the past (i.e. something that happened in the last meeting) or the future (i.e. stressing and ruminating over tomorrow’s presentation). It’s being aware of what’s happening in the space we are in and not being overly reactive to our emotions or thoughts, but rather, observing them passively as they happen.
Learning about mindfulness is all well and good, however, the true benefits come from continued practice. Here is a 1 minute mindfulness technique to give you an introduction to how mindfulness “feels” when you put it into practice.
Set a timer for 60 seconds and:
Research shows that multitasking is less productive. Our brains are hardwired for focus, so use your strengths. Block off time on your calendar and silence notifications (IMs, emails, texts, etc) and focus on the task or priority at hand for a set amount of time. You’ll be amazed how difficult this can be when first starting but over time you will see the change in your productivity. Studies show that multitasking decreases your productivity by as much as 40%.
The mind is the most open and clutter free at the start of your day. As soon as you open your inbox, your mind is pulled in many different directions with requests, issues, follow-ups, and reminders of things you need to do. This inherently shuts down creativity. So make the first task of your day a block of time to focus (without distractions) on the priority project of the day. Then you can tackle that ever overflowing inbox.
Often times, we are racing from meeting to meeting because they run excessively long and we’ve had no choice but to book them back to back. First, start by performing better meeting mindfulness. If you’re leading the meeting, stay on the agenda. Table items that are off topic. Avoid rabbit holes and hold each other accountable. Always end meetings 5 minutes early, even if further follow up needs to be completed via email. This allows team members time to get to their next meeting. Always start with one mindful minute. This doesn’t have to be a formal meditation. Simply saying, “I know how busy we all are today. Let’s just take a quick break from our screens and find some quiet and stillness.” Encourage everyone to close their computers. This will be a welcomed and subtle reminder to everyone to reset and refresh for this next meeting.
If you’ve enjoyed these tips, look for part two to find more mindful moments to incorporate into your work day! Please reach out to Purple Ink, or to me directly, if you’d like more tips on mindfulness at work.