The idea of mindfulness at work may sound like a bit of a contradiction. Mindfulness and work don’t necessarily go together in many people’s heads.
There are so many things to do, how can you possibly be in the moment enough to be mindful? And why should you?
Well, it turns out that practicing mindfulness at work can benefit you while you’re working, and when you get home (or turn your work laptop off for the day).
Mindfulness at work can reduce stress levels, help us solve problems better, lower blood pressure, improve gastrointestinal issues, and even relax aching joints that come from sitting at a desk all day.
So, with that in mind, why wouldn’t you want to practice mindfulness at work?
Here are some ways you can be more mindful at work, and encourage your employees to be, too.
An ability to multi-task is often seen as impressive. Some people wear it as a badge of honor. It can also make us feel more productive.
But, in actual fact, those of us who multi-task are less productive.
Multi-tasking makes you more prone to errors because you’re not giving something your full attention. Meaning you’re more likely to make silly mistakes that you wouldn’t normally. It can also increase your stress levels as you hop from one task to the next.
It takes our brains a while to focus on a task. Jumping from one to another and back again means you never get the chance to reach a state of flow. That’s where you focus on something you find equally engaging and challenging. It’s a great way to grow your skills and feel a sense of achievement.
However, if you’re multi-tasking, that isn’t going to happen. It’ll be harder to learn new things and you may find you get less done because you’re not fully concentrating.
Single tasking is a great way to practice mindfulness at work because your only focus is whatever you’re working on right now. Reaching a state of flow means you can get more done, the workday will go faster, and what you do will be of a higher quality.
Listen to music or soundscapes
The noises around us can have a huge impact on how we feel. Meditation music, classical music, or soundscapes can really help us be present and focus on the task at hand.
Studies have even shown that listening to classical music can increase productivity.
There are lots of videos on YouTube for this, and they range from hip-hop music to coffee shop noise. Or you can just ask your smart speaker to play some meditation/classical music.
Be present in your body
Another part of mindfulness at work is paying attention to your body. Sitting at a desk all day can be bad for your posture.
When you’re in tune with your body, you’ll be more likely to notice when something has become misaligned, you’re sitting differently, or you feel uncomfortable.
While those smartwatch reminders to get up every hour can be annoying, they’re there for a reason—movement is your friend! It’s what stops your joints from seizing up and can pull you back to the present moment.
When the reminder goes off, go make a drink, use the restroom, or just walk up and down the stairs. These small movements can make a big difference to how our joints feel, as well as to our long-term posture.
Eat away from your desk
When you eat at your desk, or even while watching TV, you pay less attention to what you’re eating. It takes 20 minutes for our brains to realize when we’re full. If you’re not eating mindfully, you’re more likely to keep eating even if you’re full, and you’re also more likely to absentmindedly snack.
If you work from home, consider using your lunch break to cook yourself something fresh. Focus on the process and how the ingredients work together.
Then, when you’re eating, pay attention to what you’re eating. How does it feel? What does it smell like? What sounds does it make? Considering how food impacts your senses will keep you in the moment. This will help you feel calmer and enjoy your meal.
Listen to your mind and body
If you’re struggling to concentrate on something, or you’re feeling fidgety, don’t force yourself to push through. A five-minute break could be all you need.
Mindfulness at work is all about paying attention to the signals our minds and bodies send to us.
We don’t always have to act on them, but sometimes, acting on that need for a break can allow us to return to a problem with a fresh perspective and finally solve it. It can also calm our nerves before a big presentation.
Educate your team
While mindfulness is becoming increasingly popular, there are still people who wrinkle their noses at the concept and think it’s woowoo or just not for them.
However, many of the people who feel this way don’t know what it actually is. It’s therefore important to show your team what mindfulness at work is, how it could benefit them, and ways they can incorporate it into their day.
You could do this through a short training exercise, or by setting an example yourself. Mention that you take meditation breaks or that you eat away from your desk.
Employees follow the examples their leaders set. The small steps you take set the precedent for everyone else on your team.
There are simple actions you can take every day to practice mindfulness at work, and to encourage your employees to do so, too.
Over time, this can become part of a team’s or company’s culture, helping employees to feel calmer at work. This will ultimately make them better at problem solving and happier in their roles.
If you want to cultivate more mindfulness at work, consider starting a mindfulness and/or meditation group. Employee groups are a valuable tool in the effort to drive culture change, and Workrowd provides an easy way to launch, manage, and measure them. Send us a message at email@example.com to learn more.