3 Ways to Apply Mindfulness in the Workplace
What if this article could provide you with the strategies you need to feel less stress, be more productive, and experience a deep sense of purpose at work. How would this change your life?
But before we delve into this let’s take a moment to consider, “What the heck is mindfulness?”
Jon Kabat Zinn, who is the creator of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), defines mindfulness as, “Awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose in the present moment non-judgementally. In the service of self-understanding and wisdom.”
You may not be able to define it, but most likely you’ve experienced it. You wake up in the morning, and for the first fleeting moments, before your thinking mind turns on, you’re acutely aware of your senses. The breeze coming in from the window brings a hint of freshly cut grass. Sunshine stings your eyelids. You can feel your belly rise and fall with every breath. At this moment you’re mindful of your lived experience.
As we transition into moving throughout our life, it becomes more challenging to be mindful. We slip into autopilot mode, unaware of what’s happening to us in the present moment.
But we don’t need to stay stuck here. Let’s explore three ways to cultivate mindfulness in the workplace to feel less stress and be more fulfilled.
1. Start your day with meditation.
It’s easy to wake up and start doing all the things on your To-Do list. But before you’re ready to Do give yourself at least 10-minutes to Be.
Meditation is a practice designed to help you be more mindful. And you don’t need to be a yogi or hippie to benefit from it. Increasingly business leaders like Tim Ferriss, Ray Dalio, and Joe Rogan are using meditation to gain the edge in the workplace.
Mediation can be as simple as finding a quiet space to sit down. A chair, couch, or cushion will work fine. Sit upright with a tall spine, close your eyes, and tune into your breath. Your thoughts will still be there, don’t try to push them away, observe your stream of consciousness and try not to grasp onto your thoughts. Almost like you’re watching a movie of someone else’s life, and you’re curious but not overly attached to the story details.
Try using the 4-7-8 breathing technique to get you started.
Breath in for four seconds. Hold your breath for seven seconds. Exhale for eight seconds. Repeat.
There are also meditation apps like Headspace and Calm to guide you. YouTube is another excellent resource, type in “mindfulness meditation” and thousands of different videos pop up. Technology is great, but you already have the ultimate app inside of you, your own intuition and awareness that will tell you exactly what you need, you just need to close your eyes and breath.
2. Stop Multitasking
You might believe if you can drive, talk on the phone, and write down notes all at the same time that you’re being really efficient with your time. But it’s actually the exact opposite. Studies have shown multitasking makes you less productive with your time and energy. It also raises your stress and anxiety levels.
What is multitasking?
The American Psychological Association describes it:
“Multitasking can take place when someone tries to perform two tasks simultaneously, switch from one task to another, or perform two or more tasks in rapid succession.”
How can you avoid multitasking?
Pick one task or project to work on at a time. Completing one task, and then moving onto the next, helps train your focus and attention to detail, which fits hand-in-hand with mindfulness.
It’s also important to be mindful of the tasks you prioritise in your day. Since you only have so much energy, it makes sense to do the tasks that are most important first.
Although most of us know this, we don’t do it. Why? One word: resistance. Steven Pressfield, the author of The War of Art, states, “I’m keenly aware of the Principle of Priority, which states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what’s important first.” He follows this up with, “Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing the work.”
Whatever task you feel the most resistance towards doing is the task you should complete first.
3. Create a distraction free environment
As I write this, I just got distracted. I turned on my phone for a moment and got sucked into the rabbit hole of responding to text messages and checking Instagram notifications. It’s not easy in our modern world to remove distraction, but it’s not impossible.
Here are a few strategies to get you started: • Turn your phone to Airplane Mode and vow to yourself you won’t turn it back on until your task is complete. • Turn off all notifications on your phone and/or computer. • If you work in an office tell your co-workers and boss you need X amount of time to stay focused. • Create a killer playlist of your favourite concentration music. You can type in “concentration music” into YouTube or search “study music” in Spotify to get you started.
Our modern world doesn’t make it easy for us to be mindful. But if we’re going to live with less stress, feel more fulfilled, and full of purpose at work, then it’s a journey we need to embrace.
Comment below with your top techniques for staying mindful at work.
This article was written for us by our awesome Brand Warrior, Vancouver-based Michael Toru. For more about Michael, click here