Many of us spend a good portion of time at work, but while your body is present your mind may be miles away. Starting with the morning commute, in which we are often in a daze, to arriving in our parking space without being aware of how we arrived there. We read e-mails and take calls with partial attention, attend meetings while multi-tasking, and eat our meals as we continue to plough through our lengthy to-do list. However, there are plenty of downfalls to being distracted at work, namely that we are not able to be as effective or productive.
Mindfulness, which essentially means paying attention to the present moment without judgment, can significantly improve your focus at work. Its effectiveness has led professionals and companies large and small to embrace mindfulness meditation as a part of their leadership training or professional development toolkit.
Following are three ways you can seamlessly incorporate mindfulness techniques into your day to improve your concentration at work.
Establish a morning meditation practice. This one is key and often skipped over by busy professionals, yet its impact cannot be overstated. Start with 5 minutes each morning before heading into work and, if possible, increase weekly until you’ve reached 15 – 20 minutes. You can start with a basic mindfulness meditation in which you follow your in-breath and your out-breath, noticing how the air feels as it moves in and out of your body. When you notice that you’ve gotten lost in your thoughts, simply and with compassion towards yourself begin again with your next breath.
Ground yourself. Develop a grounding practice that you can use before diving into a new task. This could mean placing both feet firmly on the ground and taking five deep breaths, or repeating a phrase that brings you back to the present moment such as ‘breathing in I am focused, breathing out I am calm.’ Feel free to choose any phrase that works for you.
Communicate with attentiveness. Communication is one of the most important aspects of our work, as our relationships with colleagues and clients are the foundation of producing high quality work together. Rather than half-heartedly listening to what people say, as we silently wonder about our kids’ picture day at school or how we’d rather be swimming at the beach, we could actively listen to the person communicating with us. Before hitting the reply button as we respond to our overflowing e-mail, we can take a moment to set an intention for the particular message. Bringing mindfulness to our communication throughout each day will enable our communication effectiveness to skyrocket.