How to practice Mindfulness in the workplacedi Tom Roper
Do you ever feel like you are missing important details in a meeting because your mind was somewhere else? Have you ever finished your lunch at your computer and not even realised how it tasted?
If these situations seem familiar, you are not on your own. Recent research shows that most of us, almost 50% of the time, are thinking about something other than the current activity being performed. Our minds wander, whether we are speaking to customers, updating spreadsheets, talking to colleagues, or reading emails.
The same research also found that people had lower levels of happiness when their minds were not on the task at hand as opposed to when they were focused.
Understanding and applying mindfulness and paying attention to the present can not only improve our concentration but can also reduce stress levels, improve relationships around us and allow us to be more connected with the present moment.
But the big question is: what exactly is mindfulness?
According to Psychology Today, mindfulness is a state of engaged, open attention to the present situation. When you are “mindful”, you can observe your feelings and thoughts from a distance without the judgement of considering them either bad or good. Being mindful can mean living in the moment and truly experiencing what life can offer you. There are many diverse ways that we can teach our minds to perform this way; One particularly easy and effective way is by practising meditation and mindfulness exercises.
With this in mind, how can we learn to be more mindful at work?
1. Find the time for short mindfulness exercises.
You won’t always have the time for a full meditation every day, but you can find a moment to concentrate on your breathing and become aware of your senses. In A Monk’s Guide to Happiness, Gelong Thubten suggests practising micro-moments of mindfulness. One possible way to do this is by sitting with a good posture and trying to become aware of the sounds around you. By performing exercises such as this one, you can learn to focus your attention and teach yourself to become more mindful.
2. Try to be aware of what you’re doing.
Being Mindful is about being present and consciously experiencing every moment.
When you’re conversing with your colleagues, pay close attention to their body language, their intonation, and what they’re really saying. When you’re at your desk, try to be aware of the feeling of contact between your body and the chair. If you find your mind wandering from what you’re doing, notice those thoughts and bring your attention back to the present.
3. Make a list of things that make you grateful.
In our frenetic everyday lives, it can be very easy to focus on all the things that have gone wrong and be negative about the things and people around us. Through creating a list of things that we are thankful for, we can try to maintain a more balanced view of our day-to-day situation. Keeping in mind that things that go well can also help to improve our creativity, motivation, and productivity.
4.Try to avoid multitasking.
Do you find yourself replying to emails whilst being in a meeting? Are you checking your work emails or social media whilst on lunch? Completing multiple tasks at a time might make you feel more productive, but more often than not it signifies that you are not giving your full concentration to any of the jobs you are trying to perform. This can lead to you being inefficient with a higher probability of making a mistake and reduces your capacity to ignore the things that are just not as important. Losing your connection with the present moment will also eventually lead to you being unhappier. With this in mind, the next moment you see yourself moving your attention between multiple tasks, give yourself a moment to decide what you truly need to focus on and give that your complete attention.
Of course, when you find the time and the peace, you can consider activities such as meditation, but the more we practice doing these four things regularly in our everyday work lives, the more we can train ourselves to be more mindful at work and the more we can see its benefits. So, bring your mind back from whatever you’re thinking about and turn your attention to the here and now.