Last year, I wrote about how you can gain more time in your working day through mindfulness. The benefits of being mindful at work extend well beyond just getting more done.
We spend 38 hours (often more!) at work at week. It’s a huge part of our lives and it only makes sense that we should apply mindfulness to it like we do with the rest of our lives.
Here are my top tips for being mindful at work for increased productivity and happiness:
1) Focus on one thing at a time. Easier said than done right? You come into work, and find an inbox full of emails, 8 voicemails to return and a 9am meeting to get to. Your brain is already being pulled in a dozen directions. As we move from task to task our mental load increases, making us unfocused and not allowing us to complete the task at hand to the best of our ability. To combat this, I recommend you: – only check email twice a day – take a chunk of time out each day where you turn off your phone and just focus on one big task you need to get done. No meetings, no emails, no phone calls. Just one thing! You’ll be amazed at the focus that comes when distraction is eliminated – pay attention even during the menial tasks. It’s easy to be on autopilot and we need to consciously check in with ourselves and stop our minds from wandering.
2) Check how you perceive stress (+ other events) I came across a study recently from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in which 30,000 people were surveyed the same question: ‘Does the perception that stress affects health matter’? I couldn’t believe it when I saw that those who thought about stress in a positive way and believed it was good for them had among the lowest mortality rates. The people who believed that stress was bad for their health actually had the highest chance of dying. The power of your thoughts is astonishing! The stories we tell ourselves and how we perceive things can have such a big impact on our lives. This also plays into the idea of negative bias. As human beings we tend to focus on things that have gone wrong rather than all the amazing things in our lives. This can become an issue at work if you dislike your job and start focusing on all of the negative elements. This will then spiral and you will be miserable. This is a situation where you need to stop, take a step back and assess whether you are in a negative frame of mind (and need to break the cycle with gratitude) or if it’s time to move on to something that will make you happy.
3) Set yourself a mindfulness reminder My favourite way to do this is by associating mindfulness with certain tasks. For instance, I try and get outside to work for an hour each day. It allows me to soak up some sunshine. Prior to opening the laptop though, I spend 5 minutes meditating. Not only do I find that it helps me focus completely on the task ahead but I also feel refreshed. You could also try to clear your mind before a big meeting and closing your computer and doing two minutes of mindful breathing. Perhaps, you could try setting an alarm on your phone or booking in time in your calendar. You don’t need to spend a whole hour meditating, five – ten minutes is enough to see results.
4) Mindful communication How we interact with those around us at work is so important, whether it’s your boss, the team you manage or the PA, people will pick up on, not only what you’re saying to them, but how you’re saying it and the body language you’re using. Being mindful of this is incredibly important for the culture of your workplace. From time to time, we all feel like we are under pressure but it is ultimately up to us on how we respond. If you make a mistake, accepting it and then handling it is crucial. If you take your frustration out on those around you, avoid a meeting with your boss or run away from the issue, it’s just going to snowball, and negatively impact all of those around you. Take note of how you talk to people next time you walk into the office. Most of all, try to listen, and I mean really listen.
5) Have a routine to finish the week off Every Friday afternoon I sit down and write my achievements for the week, the lessons I learnt for the week and what I want to get done in the coming week. I then tidy up my desk and turn my computer off purposefully and mindfully. This allows some sort of finality to the week through summing up what has happened and mentally prepares me for the following week. It adds a sense of peace as I enter the weekend, fully ready to relax and renew.
I offer Mindfulness at Work seminars and have worked with some amazing companies including Webjet, Cleanaway, Newcrest Mining, Westpac and the Victorian Government.
If you’d like to hold a Mindfulness at Work seminar in your workplace, please contact me on [email protected]