Updated: Nov 9, 2021
Mindfulness simply means being present and focusing on the current moment. However, with tight deadlines, back-to-back meetings, and an overflowing inbox, you may wonder ‘how can I ever be mindful at work?’ Before you click away, what if we told you that you don’t need an hour-long meditation session to cultivate mindfulness at work? Instead, here are four simple ways to inject mindfulness during work to help you achieve greater clarity and productivity.
1. Incorporate micro mindful moments
Finding time for a 30-minute meditation practice amidst a busy schedule can be difficult. Luckily, mindful exercises can be as short as a few deep breaths. You don’t even need to sit down or close your eyes.
All you need to do is consciously connect with one of your senses. A minute to pause and refocus your attention does wonders in rebalancing your nervous system. Incorporating these micro mindful moments during work hours tames your fight-or-flight system and optimizes brain function. Doing so ensures you stay calm and focused on winning that new client.
2. Kick the multitasking habit
Multitasking - trying to do more than one task at a time, is actually extremely inefficient*. By switching back and forth between tasks, we even frantically lose data during the process. Instead of multitasking your way into more workplace chaos, focus on one task at a time. Here are three practices to help you become a more mindful singletasker:
Remove distractions: Turn off phone notifications, temporarily block access to social media, and set a Pomodoro timer.
Time blocking: Keep track of what you can achieve within a block of time. This helps set realistic expectations when scheduling tasks.
Categorize tasks: Switching between different tasks consumes cognitive effort. So, group up similar tasks to accomplish in consecutive time blocks. For example, group emails with phone calls, and errands with meetings.
3. Redefine stress
While too much stress can indeed have negative effects on our health, our perception of stress has a bigger influence on our well-being. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison* discovered that among 30,000 people, those with high-stress levels, but believed stress was beneficial, had the lowest mortality rates. In contrast, those who believed stress was bad for them had poorer health outcomes.
The stress response is actually the body’s way of preparing you for an upcoming challenge. When your heart rate speeds up, it pumps more blood to send more oxygen around your body. So, when you’re facing work hurdles, take a moment to notice the changes in your body. Acknowledge that the rise in heart rate is meant to energize you for the challenge ahead. This small change in perspective helps you be more grateful, sharpens your productivity, and ultimately adds years to your life.
4. Practice gratitude and humility
Mindfulness is synonymous with gratitude because showing appreciation is an act of conscious awareness of our surroundings. As gratitude neutralizes the “negative bias” humans tend to have, it softens any grudges and improves our perspectives. Research has also proven that gratitude positively impacts our health, relationships, and quality of work*.
Humility, on the other hand, is linked to mindfulness as it promotes accepting yourself as you are, and others as they are. Instead of grinding through work to prove your capabilities, you focus on your strengths while celebrating others’ wins. Being humble helps you acknowledge the importance of each individual within the whole workplace ecosystem.
The workplace can indeed be stressful, fast-paced, and competitive. When we’re expected to consistently show up with laser-sharp focus and deliver polished work, it can indeed become overwhelming. Therefore, mindfulness is key to helping you feel less reactive and more resilient. By embracing a culture of mindfulness, everyone can become a winner at the workplace.
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