How To Use Mindfulness To Be More Productive
Mindfulness as a concept and practice can sound fluffy to some at first. Yet it’s a practice that’s taking the workplace by storm, with CEOs and companies such as Google and Nike implementing mindfulness practices into their own workspaces to boost employee wellness and productivity. And the results – backed by numbers and scientific research – might just convince you to give it a try yourself.
What Is Mindfulness?
Do you ever find yourself just drifting through your day? Almost like your mind and body are in two different places at once? For instance, you could be having your lunch without even tasting it, whilst your mind is fixated on the work that you have yet to complete. How many times has the commute to work become something you navigate on autopilot, where your body goes through the motions without taking in what’s going on around you?
We get surprised when it seems like time has slipped past without us even noticing, but that’s exactly it. We didn’t notice, because we weren’t paying attention.
And that’s where mindfulness comes in.
Mindfulness is the act of purposefully focusing on the experiences of the present and perceiving them without judgement. In essence: paying attention to what’s going on around you without a) getting caught up in your own thoughts, or b) getting distracted.
How Does Mindfulness Boost Productivity?
Mindfulness boosts productivity by enhancing the key ingredient needed for productivity: focus. How many times have you become overwhelmed while working on a project because you started worrying about the outcome, or been distracted mid-work because you couldn’t stop thinking about an important upcoming meeting?
Mindfulness helps to stave off distractions while working, forcing you to focus primarily on the task you are undertaking. But focusing on your ongoing task doesn’t mean completely ignoring everything else in the background; for instance, the new notice in your email box or that message from your coworker. Being mindful is to acknowledge the incoming email and message and allocating some time to attend to them after you’re done with what you’re working on currently, to avoid them from distracting you from your primary task.
Being mindful also helps to counter procrastination. Many people procrastinate with work because they worry about the outcome of the project, eventually delaying starting the task due to how daunting the task feels.
Mindfulness helps people focus on the present, keeping them from fretting over failures in the past or stressing over future outcomes. It helps them to get started on their work without being burdened by worries that may hinder their progress.
The Other Benefits Of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is proven to reduce stress and improve sleep quality. In a workplace study, 239 employee volunteers were randomised into three separate groups. One group followed a therapeutic yoga worksite stress reduction program, another attended one of two mindfulness-based programs, and the final group acted as a control group that participated only in an assessment. The results show that the groups who underwent the mind-body interventions showed significantly greater improvements on perceived stress and sleep quality, in comparison to the control group.
Practicing mindfulness has also been shown to improve general wellbeing and happiness, traits which inadvertently influence productivity as well.
How Do You Practice Mindfulness?
Watch a 3-minute mindfulness exercise to quickly take note of your current physical state and learn how to feel grounded using each of your five senses.
One of the most common ways to invoke a state of mindfulness, is through meditation and relaxation techniques. But even without meditating, you can practice mindfulness by simply being conscious of your actions. Take note of how you’re feeling in that moment, both physically and mentally, and the sensations invoked by your actions. Whether it’s petting your cat, having a snack, or even taking a quick walk, as long as you are fully immersed in the present moment and what you’re currently doing, then that itself will constitute as an act of mindfulness.