Do you go through the workday mindlessly checking things off your never-ending to do list, then wonder at the end of the day: have I accomplished anything substantial?
We get caught up in the daily tasks at work without taking a break to assess our current thoughts, direction, or purpose.
Mindfulness is an important aspect of employee engagement, and research suggests that an engaged employee is a productive employee. In fact, research from INSEAD Business School found that simply 15 minutes of mindfulness-based meditation, such as concentrating on breathing, can lead to more rational thinking when making business decisions
So, what are some additional ways you can be more mindful throughout your work day? I want to share three key tips to increase your mindfulness
1. Train your Brain to Focus. Multitasking may help us cross things off our to-do list, but it also makes us more prone to make mistakes as well as miss cues we receive from others. In addition, when we multitask, we’re less likely to retain information.
You can combat multitasking by making a conscious effort to focus on one task at a time. Are you working on a project? Close out of your email inbox to avoid the need to read and respond to incoming messages. Be mindful of your task at hand, and work to fully complete that task before moving to the next one.
2. Practice Active Listening. Have you ever had an entire conversation with someone and then later realize you can barely recall what was said because you were busy thinking about something else during the conversation? This happens all the time in the workplace. Using active listening during conversations keeps our mind focused on what the other person is saying. It also allows the other person to feel genuinely heard, valued, and respected. What could be more mindful than that?
How to Use Active Listening:
As the other person is talking, SIMPLY LISTEN. You can nod in agreement or engage using facial expressions, but do not talk while the other person is talking, even if you have an opinion on the matter or you 100% agree with what they’re saying. The point here is to simply listen - not to share your thoughts or a similar experience you’ve had.
After the person is finished talking, summarize what they’ve said. Use some key words they used as you repeat your summary back to them. For example… “So what I heard you saying is… “
Then, after you’ve summarized, ask if you heard them correctly. Give them a chance to respond and let them add any important thoughts you may have missed in your summary.
3. Unplug from Work. This can be a tough one. But in order to be fully mindful at work, you must set boundaries for yourself when you leave work. Learn how to unplug from work, whether it’s for the evening, the weekend, or while you’re on vacation. Set some reasonable boundaries for yourself and stick to them.
Think about it - are you constantly connected to your email, even when you’re not working? For convenience purposes, most of us have our work emails set up on our phones. While this is generally fine, I also encourage you to be sure you’re able to distance yourself from work at any given time. Yes, there are times when we must work “after hours,” but make sure you’re being mindful about how often and when this happens. If it’s continually interfering with your ability to be mindful at home, then it’s time to reassess the situation.
Take time to practice being mindful. Pause throughout the day to evaluate where you’re at and what you’re doing. Then re-evaluate your thoughts and your time, as needed. By focusing on one task a time, fully engaging others, and unplugging from work during your personal life you can become a better, more engaged employee. And that’s the power of mindfulness.
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Whitney Ohmer is a Talent and Organizational Development consultant for the Corporate Talent Institute. To learn more about her organization, visit www.corporatetalentinstitute.com