Everybody knows it: procrastination, lack of sleep, or stress of any kind do not really benefit your performance at work. On the contrary, they will hamper your good work in more than one way, sometimes unwittingly. So, you better get rid of it as soon as possible and permanently as well. And yes, there is a way for most of us to battle this, although it will need some effort.
Not many of you will be aware of it, but mindfulness at work can provide a solution. Many experts in the business have confirmed this. It may even be one of your New Year’s resolutions to get started with. But how exactly does it work? And how do you maintain mindfulness on a busy workday? Read on and it will be explained.
Is it for everybody?
But first this. Being busy with mindfulness sounds a bit too woolly or lofty to some people, especially the down-to-earth and straightforward ones. Can’t we just get the job done? Hard to accept that these persons would be inclined to change their mindset. However, the form of available possibilities is a very practical tool to improve your performance. Do you want to be less distracted or listen better? Mindfulness training can also help you and you can do it yourself, without having to enter into any lengthy training course.
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Here is what to do
There are a lot of exercises out there, with which you can train yourself to become more mindful, such as learn how to breathe consciously (yoga) or meditation like is taught by Buddhist monks. There is a lot of literature around, which will help you teach yourself. There are even apps. All this kind of training can help you to maintain attention and focus. And that is exactly what is meant by mindfulness.
Here are some of the positive effects: Mindfulness allows you to concentrate better. And you learn to listen more attentively, which helps to communicate more effectively at work. It also teaches you how to deal with pressure better and more resiliently. And don’t get stuck in thoughts so you don’t have to worry. Thus it helps to sleep better. In the long run, mindfulness can even help keep blood pressure and heart rate low.
Some compare it to other activities such as learning to dance or strength training. You train your attention, just like you train muscles with sports. This increases your capacity to concentrate and to take your thoughts less seriously. Your brain keeps trying to distract you. For example with thoughts like “I don’t feel like” or “this is too difficult”, which can lead to procrastination.
Make your mind free
The purpose of mindfulness is to become aware of the here and now. How exactly does that work? You cannot stop thoughts, they are always there. The trick is to let them slip by, like a play taking place. One person may feel a tingling sensation, the other nothing. If you get distracted, bring back the attention.
You can also practice being mindful at work, for example by tackling tasks one by one. Stay with something with your full attention until it is finished, or until you reach the agreed time. You will certainly get more pleasure and peace in your work. And you will be able to get more done than if you keep getting texts, colleagues or other tasks in between.
You don’t have to do the exercises in the workplace to still notice the effects. Start a simple mindful meditation practice at home on the couch. Sit quietly on the couch and try to listen very consciously to the sounds around you. Focus on your breathing. How the air flows through your nose to your stomach and how it feels when you exhale. Pay attention to the sensations of the moment.
That sounds simple enough. But mindfulness cannot be mastered within a day. You have to practice for a while until it is in your system. If you eventually practice ten minutes a day, the result will be noticeable within a few weeks. You will soon feel calmer and happier for no reason other than your practicing every day.
Also want to try reaching mindfulness? Everyone can get started with these five tips:
1. Find the right time
Try it out for eight weeks and experiment which time of day works best for you: ten minutes in the morning, evening or after lunch, perhaps. You don’t have to interrupt your workflow every hour for exercises, give it a try if you are distracted or tired. Sit up straight for a minute and watch your breathing for a minute. If necessary, put a reminder in your agenda.
2. Start small
In the beginning it can be a challenge to keep up an exercise for a minute. Don’t set complicated goals of half an hour a day. Then you quickly think: “I didn’t succeed again today, never mind”. Rather, make a simple appointment with yourself to practice mindfulness every day. One breath is enough, for example while the coffee is being made.
Does it not work for a day when a problem takes over? This can always happen, but just be flexible. Then rather exercise, run or walk.
3. Find out what works for you
There are all kinds of apps with exercises available. Headspace, for example, is popular. But you can also use a timer to practice meditating. As with everything in life, a little organizing will do the trick. Some discipline will help too. Do some Googling to search for meditation and yoga books. There are many for beginners.
4. Don’t go it alone
Group training is very practical, where you can ask questions and share experiences. Although this might not be very practical at work. Or you just use an app for yourself a little more. Above all, look for what works for you. Then it can also help to ask a friend or colleague to join.
5. Put a stone in your pocket
Do you get extra stressed or irritated by an alarm or reminder to relax? It can also be done differently. For example, put a stone in your pocket. Each time you touch it, you are reminded to take a deep breath. Write a quote on your mirror, or put a picture frame on your desk, as long as it encourages you to practice every time you see it.
And the stone need not be a rock, just a pebble of course (lol).
Mindfulness is good for everybody at every time and not only for work-related purposes. It is useful for anything you do in life. At work it can prevent you from getting upset because of your boss and/or your colleagues and you might have the wrong reaction. One which you might regret for a long time.
But anyway, some people’s mindset is to blurt anything out without feeling stressed or burdened in any way, even when this leads to an unworkable situation. For those of you and the ones who are disgruntled anyway, I would suggest changing your career totally and away from the corporate jungle.
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