Important projects and tight deadlines are part of almost everyone’s routine. However, we are surrounded by several distractions that make us lose focus, compromising our productivity at work.
A full inbox, noise from the environment, personal problems, random thoughts, interruptions from colleagues, and when we realize, we are already producing on autopilot, doing mechanical work, without concentration.
As you might have heard or read about, meditation can be an excellent alternative to refocus your work. To solve the problem of procrastination and lack of focus, many companies and executives are using self-knowledge and professional development resources, such as Mindfulness, which uses meditation techniques to increase concentration and improve job performance.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a personal development tool of oriental origin that prioritizes experiences that occur in the present moment, that is, a mental state of awareness and mindfulness in which someone focuses exclusively on the "here and now", removing thoughts related to the past or future.
Experts explain that mindfulness uses meditation techniques and other training to achieve this state of mindfulness, stimulating self-awareness, control, and emotional balance. Through mindfulness meditation, it is possible to train the mind to ignore external stimuli, which can increase focus on work and bring various effective results in productivity.
The connection between Mindfulness and productivity
Although many believe that meditation is attached to spirituality, nowadays we know its strong scientific basis. The benefits of meditation have been studied since the late 1970s and several discoveries have been made since then.
One of the most recognized studies on Mindfulness was carried out by the physician Jon Kabatt-Zinn, who concluded that mindfulness meditation produces several significant effects on the brain. The practice of meditation activates the regions related to memory, concentration, and creativity, having positive effects, including in treatments of patients with chronic diseases.
Besides that, a recent research from INSEAD Business School found that doing just 15 minutes of mindfulness-based meditation such as concentrating on breathing can lead to more rational thinking when making business decisions.
Why does Mindfulness improve productivity?
Let’s dive into some of the reasons why meditation Mindfulness improves productivity so you can trust that you’ll only have to gain with it.
Mindfulness reduces stress
Studies show that the practice of meditation reduces the stimuli of the amygdala, the brain region responsible for the response to stress, avoiding emotions such as anger, fear, and anxiety in stressful situations in the corporate environment. With this, it is possible to have greater control and emotional balance, which allows you to make more assertive decisions and avoid interpersonal conflicts.
Mindfulness improves memory and creativity
Meditation also favors memory and creativity, as it frees the mind for new ideas, points of view, learning, and for recording new information. Practice also facilitates better decision making in complex situations.
Mindfulness can increase your job satisfaction
When we are well physically and mentally everything flows satisfactorily and it is no different at work. Stimulating the practice of meditation at work shows concern for the health of the workforce and employees value this company's behavior.
Mindful meditation can improve your work relationships
Meditation also stimulates brain circuits that condition self-knowledge and empathic and altruistic behavior, making people more receptive and less reactive, which is essential for relationships in the workplace. The result of this is an increase in the well-being and performance of all.
Tips to Be Mindful in the Workplace
Ok, at this stage we probably convinced you: Mindfulness is great. And it does increase productivity. But you might be thinking: “Easy to practice mindfulness at home or during a yoga class, but how will I do that if I spend most of my time inside the office?” Or perhaps, working from home.
So let’s dive into how to implement being mindful in your work life. Here are 5 mindful techniques that you can do at work for a healthier, less stressful, more productive day:
The first thing you’ll do when you come into work is to sit at your desk - you can even use your phone - for one minute. Close your eyes and take some breaths allowing yourself to be completely present for 60 seconds. When you dedicate a moment to feel grounded before starting doing anything (yes, even checking your inbox). This short pause will prepare your mind and body to start your day at work on the right note.
Breathing is really important when it comes to being mindful because it allows us to slow down as well as bring down our stress levels - which might get really high while working. How to do this: set your timer from one to three minutes and, during this short time, simply focus on your breath. From a Mindfulness perspective, this is a simple yet really effective technique to be used in moments of intense anxiety and stress.
When we think about mindfulness, we usually get focused on what is it that we can do, right? But why not focus on the people around us?
For obvious reasons, mindful listening can be particularly beneficial in the workplace. When we are stressed and busy, we stop listening. Then we wonder why people (ourselves included) miss information, take things out of context, etc. Mindful listening is about being in the present moment.
Not worrying about formulating your thoughts so you can answer back, but really listening to the person you are speaking to. And more than that, talking back to them in regards to what they said so that they notice that you listened. This will shift your communication skills, avoid misunderstandings, and leave everyone feeling calmer.
Mindful walking is simply walking at a slower rate, paying attention to every single step, noticing the movement that’s happening around you. As you probably know, if you are rushing into a meeting, you’re not taking note of anything. Break the habit of showing up at your meetings or coming back from your breaks at the very last minute and instead, save some time so you can go slower, even super slow. This will allow you to be in the moment and can do this wherever you find yourself.
This is a simple exercise of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. When another does something that challenges your patience, instead of getting defensive right away, choose to interact with them mindfully.
You’ll be amazed to notice the compassion that most of the time comes up when you realize that people do not wake up intending to annoy you on purpose and that most conflicts are not personal.
Although this article is focused on the short-term effects that Mindfulness can bring in regards to productivity, in case you decide to give it a go, I’d like to encourage you to be consistent with your practice so you can also experiment its long term benefits, such as better sleep, enhanced memory, increased levels of happiness and compassion, and a healthier immune system, just to name a few.
If you’re feeling a bit burnout, check out these additional strategies to overcoming burnout as a freelancer.