When we talk about mindfulness, our brains tend to jump to meditation and breathing techniques, which we then dismiss as not having a home within the workplace. The nature of mindfulness is simply present in the moment, and there are several health and wellness benefits to be reaped when one can do just that.
However, studies report that we spend almost 47% of our waking hours thinking about something other than what we are doing at a specific moment. Short of downloading a meditation app, what can we do to stop living on autopilot and feeling lost in our thoughts?
1. Quit multitasking
Our email accounts are a terrible source of distraction; I know I find myself gravitating towards my inbox more often than I should be. Instead, carve out specific chunks of your day to manage your emails, and close the inbox (or at least silence the incoming alerts) when concentrating on one particular task.
Quit multitasking; it is simply not productive. When we stop bouncing between tasks and pay attention to the task at hand, we become more effective, completing tasks faster and with fewer mistakes.
2. Be mindful of your time (and that of others)
I'm not talking about to-do lists or a fancy time management training programme. Instead, I'm suggesting you be more mindful of how you allocate and spend your time. Something as simple as taking regular breaks throughout the workday can seriously improve your productivity and output.
Popular research recommends working for 52-minute intervals, followed by a 17-minute break. It is natural for our brains to work in the high activity for an hour and then switch to low activity for a short period.
When hosting meetings, you can be mindful of the participant's time. Make a concerted effort to close the sessions earlier, leaving time between appointments for colleagues to catch their breath, gather their thoughts and prepare for the next one.
Make time for yourself (and others) to reflect, be present at the moment, and distance oneself from the workplace's hustle and bustle.
3. Practice humility
Mindfulness is rooted in self-awareness and self-acceptance. Both of which are required if you are going to listen to and learn from your colleagues actively.
Many of us are guilty of speed reading through an email or formulating our response when a colleague is still midway through a conversation. Practising humility means we're able to take a step back, breathe and take in the perspective of others with an open mind and an open heart.
I often end the day exhausted, feeling like I haven't stopped. The sad thing is I'm usually unable to describe what I've done or achieved for the day. I've bustled through on autopilot.
When we become less reactive, taking care of one thing at a time (this includes making time for self-care), we feel less overwhelmed and have more clarity of thought and direction. We feel more compassion for those around us, experience less stress and make better decisions.