I know what you’re thinking. Mindfulness is a crazy hippy idea that somehow caught on in the business world, and now it is the latest ‘trend’. Companies are doing yoga on the roof, meditation masters are being brought in for high-level executives… it’s all a mess.
But there really is something to mindfulness in the workplace. It isn’t spiritual, or religious, but a different way of looking at the world around you to help you focus on the here and now of it all. Implementing it in your everyday routine at work can show a boost in productivity, awareness, and even a little bit of happiness.
What Exactly is Mindfulness?
The most basic way to explain what mindfulness is simply being. When you are mindful you are fully present in the current moment. The past isn’t hanging over you, the future isn’t worrying you. It’s all about this very moment.
In a more real sense, it doesn’t have to be involved with meditation, although a lot of people use meditation as a way to harness their mindfulness. Ultimately being mindful is all about focusing all of your attention one singular moment in your life, and fully experiencing it.
Why Multitasking is the Enemy of Mindfulness
It’s often thought that if you can do two things at once, you should. And when it is phrased like that, it makes sense. If you have the brainpower to do multiple things and you aren’t, you’re wasting your potential.
Here’s the problem: a study by neuroscientists recently showed that only about 2.5% of the population can properly multitask, which means they are able to do two things very well at the same time. As much as you would love to believe you fall within that 2.5%, there is a good chance you don’t.
Instead, you’re doing things half-way, focusing half your attention on a full task. It’s taking longer, you’re doing a worse job, and it’s stressing you out. Not to mention that the same study showed that people who try and multitask regularly actually retrain their brain to not be able to focus for long periods of time!
Tips for Trying Mindfulness in Your Workday
Want to give it a go? Ready to ditch the multitasking and jump into a more intense focus, and better work hours?
First thing first – only do one task at a time. If you struggle to see the value, keep a time journal. Each block of time you get something done, write it down. When you’re trying to multitask in a given block, write that down too. Pay attention to just what you’re able to get done.
Use mindful reminders in your daily life to pull you back to the present. Whether that’s setting the background of your PC or phone to the word ‘mindful’, setting a vibrating alarm to refocus you every hour, or leaving a post-it note where you normally stare off into space.
And finally, make sure you’re incorporating mindfulness exercises into your workday.
Small things like mindfully eat your snack, tasting each part of it and feeling each texture, mindful moments of breathing when you pause, or taking two minutes each hour to stretch and feel the way each muscle in your shoulders and back move and expand will all make a big difference and help pull you back into the present moment.