Multi-tasking has become embedded in the way we live and the way we work.
There’s the work we’re doing at our desks; a steady stream of texts, email alerts and reminders from our colleagues; and of course the realization toward the end of the workday that the transition to home life requires our attention.
That’s where mindfulness comes in.
Mindfulness is, “the intentional, accepting and nonjudgemental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment.”
In other words, mindfulness teaches us how to go from having one foot in the now and the other in a long list of external, persistent stresses to focusing all your energy on the task at hand.
Why mindfulness matters at work
You are at your professional best when your work has your full attention.
The workplace is filled with distractions — dissonance between different personalities and working styles, deadlines, expectations, and egos — and they deplete our time and energy, only to leave an air of negativity in their wake.
We lose up to 40% of our productivity to scattered thinking and working.
By shifting our focus to the present moment, mindfulness helps us stay focused, be a better leader, make decisions more clearly, diffuse high-stress situations, and makes aware of what triggers stress so we can develop a healthier response to it.
How to integrate mindfulness into your work
Every day, carve out 10 to 20 minutes to follow these tips adapted from The Buddha Walks into the Office:
- When frustrated or distracted from your work, remind yourself of the intention behind your work. Ask yourself: why do you do what you do?
- Don’t obsess over other people’s actions or affairs. When you do, bring your mind back to the present, and ask yourself what about the situation bothers you. What can you be doing to resolve that internal conflict?
- Let go of needing to get the last word in at meetings.
- Don’t expect praise for the work you do. Work sincerely, honestly, and free of expectations from others; you will be open to pleasant surprises.
- Speak to everyone with equal respect. No one is different, regardless of seniority.
- Be generous: whether lending an ear or offering a fresh set of eyes on a paper, offer to help colleagues and give them your undivided attention when you do.
- Practice patience, especially with your most difficult colleagues.
- Master meditative concentration: Cut down on multitasking and bring yourself entirely to whatever is directly in front of you; maintain awareness during conflict, and you will navigate it more effectively.
- Listen — really listen — to others.
- Instead of jumping in and trying to fix a problem, allow yourself time to contemplate and see what sits with you. Then act.
- Don’t take yourself or your job too seriously. Handle pressures with gentleness and humor — especially amid tension and aggression.
- Remember that all parties share one thing in common: basic goodness.
Try these out and tag #SeekingSerendipity to let us know if you see an improvement in your work life.