Mindfulness is all the rage, and certainly, you can see the value in it, but how do you integrate it into a busy work day full of emails, phone calls, travel, meetings, and presentations? Here are some suggestions on how to be mindful at work:
1. Be conscious, be present
This starts with awareness of exactly how scattered your thoughts are. Take some time just to notice how often your attention wanders, and try to bring it back to the present. It takes practice – and the willingness to fail and try again. Make a clear decision at the start of your workday to be present as best you can, pausing for a few moments before you dive into work to set this intention in your mind.
2. Ditch the multi-tasking
Be a single-tasker instead. Very few of us can actually multi-task. All that happens is that your brain has to switch between things at such a rate that you lose data in the process. And study after study has shown that single-tasking is far more productive. Just do one thing at a time and do it well.
3. Slow down to speed up
It feels counter-intuitive to stop or slow down in order to become more efficient, productive, happy, resilient, healthy and mindful at work. But great athletes know that rest increases efficiency. It works for both body and mind. Slowing down to speed up is a mindful way to work.
4. Practice gratitude
Why is it that you dwell on criticism so much and less so on praise? Well, it’s because humans have a ‘negativity bias’, but luckily there’s an antidote – gratitude. Actively practising gratitude makes you feel better and has a positive impact on your creativity, health, working relationships, and quality of work. Gratitude makes being at work a more positive experience. When you’re feeling stressed and negative about things, jot down three work-related things you’re grateful for, no matter how simple they may be, and reflect on those for a minute or two.
5. Accept what you can’t change
Have you come across the Serenity Prayer? If not, or you would like a reminder, find it below. It’s called that for a reason. Accepting the things you cannot change lies at the heart of mindfulness – because you accept this present moment just as it is. Lack of acceptance leads to denial, avoidance and even aggression when challenges arise. Accepting the situation, however, allows you to adopt the kind of mind-set that invites solution-seeking thinking.