The work day is busy. We all go through our day - driven by deadlines, meetings and schedules. We are constantly debriefing on the past or planning for the future. What about the present?
Practicing mindfulness means purposefully setting your attention and awareness on the current moment – without judgment. It means acknowledging how you are feeling in that moment and accepting those feelings without believing they are right or wrong. Mindfulness leads to stronger focus, conscious listening, happier employees and higher productivity.
Here are five tips for increasing your mindfulness at work.
- 1. Prioritize your to-do list
The never-ending to-do list. You cross one thing off and then add two more. To be mindful about how you are spending your time and to help you be more present with the task at hand, you should prioritize your list and focus your energy on the items that fall into the Important/Not Urgent category in the Time Management Matrix below.
The activities in this category are proactive (vs. being reactive) and will help you prioritize the long-term, strategic initiatives that will make you, your team and your work more productive and effective.
- 2. Don’t be a slave to your email. Turn the pop-ups off!
Multi-tasking has never been a way to become more productive. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Every interruption decreases productivity as your focus is pulled into different directions. Don’t let the blackhole of your email swallow your day. Turn the pop-ups off. You are much farther ahead if you close your email while you’re working on a project or in a meeting and open it once you have the time to devote attention to it. In this day of instant communication, it’s difficult to refrain from the urge to respond for the sake of responding. Don’t do it! Stay in the moment and don’t be disrupted by email notifications.
- 3. Be present in meetings
Ah, the meetings. So many meetings! It’s difficult to get your work done around a day full of meetings. First thing’s first: don’t attend meetings that are not going to move your priorities forward or that will not benefit your work or your team’s work. Decline meetings that are not pertinent to you. Another solution is to only join for the parts of the agenda that are relevant to you.
For those meetings that you do attend, it’s important to be a present and mindful participant. This means focusing on the topic at hand and listening to your colleagues without judgment. Be open to their thoughts and ideas. Try to understand where they are coming from first and provide feedback and ideas second. Avoid checking your phone. Avoid side conversations. And if you’re leading the meeting, be sure to start and end on time. This will help your participants remain focused and attentive for the duration of time they blocked off for your topic.
- 4. Spend time planning and regrouping
Planning is time well-spent! All too often we dive into our day, then our week, reacting to what’s being thrown at us. Instead, it’s important to create a plan incorporating your priorities among the must-do tasks that often consume our time. The more you feel overwhelmed and/or out of control, the more you need to take 15 minutes to regroup and revisit your plan. It’s smart to invest time into getting back on track. Having a realistic, doable plan will allow you to focus on the task at hand and be more productive.
The best way to stay focused and centered is to take breaks – and often! You should take a five-minute break every hour that consists of walking, stretching, deep breathing or relaxing in some way. Getting away from your screen is key. Checking your email or social media is not a break. This sounds so simple, but is often very difficult to put into practice. Find a break buddy. Find a colleague who you can go for a walk with or an officemate who enjoys a quick chat. Work cultures that practice care have happier employees. Those who are mindful during breaks will be more mindful at work, and happier overall.These are five simple tips for increasing your mindfulness at work, which will in turn increase your job satisfaction and productivity.