Are You Mindful? Or Is Your Mind Full?
Being mindful at work takes some practice, but it’s worth it!
A couple of weeks ago, I presented a mini-workshop titled, “Mindfulness in a Remote World” to my colleagues. It was a topic that was relevant and therapeutic for me. Since I’ve been working virtually, there are times when I find myself slipping into a never-ending spiral of mindless “busyness”. I recognized the problem. I was working too much and ignoring my body’s need to rest, relax, and release stress. I decided to intentionally include mindful moments in my day.
That decision set me on a path to increased productivity and reduced stress. Laurie. J. Cameron writes in her book, The Mindful Day: Practical Ways to Find Focus, Calm, and Joy from Morning to Evening: “Mindfulness is the awareness that arises when we deliberately direct our attention toward our inner experience, toward others, and toward the environment around us without judgement.
But more than just focusing your mind, it’s about your mindset — how you view the world.”
The Mayo Clinic defines mindfulness as a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.
Are you ready to learn ways to practice mindfulness while at work? The following tips will show you how:
Breathing exercises are at the top of most mindfulness lists for a reason. This technique is universal and can be used regardless of where you are, how much time you have, or your position. Concentrate on your breathing and clear your mind. Slowly inhale while counting to three. When you exhale, count to five while relaxing your whole body. Recognize when your mind wanders, and gently return your attention to the breath. Focused Breathing is a simple practice that settles the mind and calms the body.
One of the most effective ways to stay accountable to your goals is to set aside blocks of time for your tasks in your calendar. Block out time for tasks that need your sustained attention. Multi-tasking is a myth. You’re actually “switch-tasking” and many of us are experts. Dr. Nancy K. Napier, Professor of Strategy and International Business at Boise State University, explains in her podcast Beyond the Blue that we are losing a lot of productivity being “busy”. She states that brain research in neuroscience suggests the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously, as we thought it might. In fact, we just switch tasks quickly. According to Dr. Napier, give yourself a time limit and focus on just one task and see if you can’t complete it better, faster, and with less energy.
Establish clear working hours and stick to them. This means saying goodbye to your job at the end of the day. Whether you are working remotely, or in an office, developing boundaries between your work and the rest of your life is critical. That includes email as well. If we stay at a task too long, the brain can get tired and start introducing errors. Therefore, unless you have a pressing deadline, turn off job email alerts or wait until the next day to respond to emails you receive after work hours. You will feel refreshed and more prepared for work the next day if you can achieve a healthy work-home balance.
Need help establishing the habit of mindfulness? Here are some apps that will encourage you to focus and take a break:
- Take a Break!
- Ten Percent Happier
Mindfulness requires one thing: intent. Don’t overthink. This allows you to calm yourself and to focus on the present without judgement. So, instead of devoting hours of sustained attention to a single task, practice your deep breathing, block your schedule when necessary, and take intentional breaks. These tips will help sustain you as you strive to live mindfully in this remote world.