Week Two: Mindfulness at Work

Introduction

This week, you will learn how to incorporate mindfulness at work. Whether you work in an office, on a construction site, in a kitchen, in a classroom or at home, you can apply mindfulness. You can apply mindfulness anywhere, anytime. 

The benefits of applying mindfulness at work 

There is a reason why big Fortune 500 companies are investing in mindfulness programs for their employees. The reason is because the overall productivity of their employees is greater when they are mindful. That in itself is a great reason but if you are not convinced, other benefits of mindfulness at work are listed below: 

  • Better quality of work
  • Increased attention to detail
  • Enhanced listening skills
  • Tasks are more enjoyable
  • Creativity is increased
  • Decreased stress and anxiety 
  • Better decision making
  • Increased immunity

Mindfulness is about single tasking and it may seem counterintuitive that single-tasking is more productive than multitasking. When you are multitasking, your brain is constantly going back and forth between the multiple tasks that you doing and each time, it has to re-focus. Single tasking allows you to save the time and energy spent switching your attention between multiple tasks and re-focusing. 

Reflection

Mindfulness at work translates into focus. When you are mindful, you are focused on the task at hand only. Doing something while simultaneously thinking about something else, otherwise known as multi-tasking, is the opposite of mindfulness. Ask yourself the questions below and answer them honestly. This will help you gauge the degree to which you already apply mindfulness at work. 

Self Assessment Questions

1. Do you often enter a flow state and forget about time when you are working?

2. When you are in a flow state, do you find your work enjoyable?

3. Is there a time during the day where you find it easier to focus on what you are doing?

4. Do you often feel stressed at work?

5. Do you feel afraid that you will not have enough time to complete your work?

6. Do you feel the need to listen to music when you are working?

7. Do you take pride in your multi-tasking abilities?

Were you surprised by your answers? You may think that since your are doing nothing else than work, that you are single tasking and mindful. That's not necessarily true. If you are not fully focus when you are doing your work, you are not mindful. If you are checking email and simultaneous thinking about what you will be making for dinner, you are not mindful. 

Inspiration

The video below is a complete guide on applying mindfulness in the workplace. 

 

A great way to get out of autopilot mode at work is by slowing down and becoming aware of your breath, body and mood. Taking a pause to intentionally breathe in than out and noticing how your body feels and what your mood is will bring you back to the present. Once you are in the present, align your body and mind so that you are fully engaged and focused on the task at hand. 

The video above touched on the 3 ways to bring mindfulness into your work. We've re-iterated and expanded on these ways of bringing mindfulness into your work for your convenience. 

3 ways to bring mindfulness into your work 

  1. Start the day mindfully. The first few minutes of your work day can really set the tone for the rest of the day. It’s good to start the day mindfully before you get bombarded with requests and meetings and deadlines. You can start by taking the time to plan your day mindfully. Setting your priorities and beginning your work in a calm state will help to give you a sense of control over your day.
  2. Block off some time for emails. Avoid having your inbox open at all times during the day and checking your emails constantly. Every time you take your attention away from the task at hand to check your emails, you are wasting precious time and wasting energy with re-focusing when you get back to your work. To avoid wasting time and losing focus, schedule some time to mindfully check your emails a few times a day. You may decide to set aside 30 minutes in the morning and in the afternoon to check and respond to emails. Checking emails mindlessly is a huge time waster and so is responding to emails unnecessarily. By limiting the time that you have to check emails, you are forcing yourself to be efficient.
  3. Set a timer to remind yourself to be mindful. Last week, we learned that our attention will wander naturally and that we will have to constantly bring our attention back to the present moment. To ensure that you are mindful and focused on your work, you can set a timer every hour to remind you to be mindful. When you timer goes off, notice your thoughts and gently bring yourself back to the present by focusing on your breath.

 

Application

This week, you are encouraged to practice mindfulness at work daily while maintaining your mindfulness practice at home. If you wish, you may switch up the task that you have committed to doing mindfully last week for another. 

Mindfulness does have some immediate benefits but there are also long term benefits to a regular practice. The short term benefits include feeling more joy and increasing your patience. Long term benefits include better memory and decreased feelings of stress.

Weekly Assignment

 This week, your assignment is to commit to practicing mindfulness at work at least once a day. You may choose to practice mindfulness at the beginning of your day or after lunch or in the middle of your workday. If you are feeling ambitious, you can even commit to setting a timer every hour to remind yourself to be mindful.

 Remember that the easiest way to bring yourself back to the present is to focus on your breath.  Breathe in and out. Notice the sounds around you; how your body feels; your mood; the ground beneath your feet,…

You are encouraged to write down how being mindful at work changes how you feel about your work. You may also reflect on your productivity, stress levels and quality of your work. Do you find you work more enjoyable when you are mindful?

 

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“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.”
– Buddha