Does your mind easily wander? Do you find yourself performing tasks at work without much thought? Research shows that people spend almost half of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, which weakens their performance, creativity, and well-being, according to Harvard researchers.
If this behavior describes your mindset, you belong to a club where membership only requires habitual ways of thinking, doing, and feeling. The bad news? It’s not a great place to be. Mindfulness – with all its benefits – is where you want to head.
Mindfulness, which means being focused in the present moment, can strengthen your job performance as well as your mind, body, and spirit. Mindfulness engages your senses to allow you to participate fully in daily tasks.
So how do you achieve it? Here are six steps to practice moment-to-moment awareness at work.
1. Reflect and plan.
Start the workday by focusing on your organization’s purpose and how you contribute to it by being present and engaged. End each day by preparing for the next to help avoid anxiety or procrastination.
Slow down. Set aside five minutes daily to breathe. For a minute or two, breathe deeply. Focus only on inhaling and exhaling. Consider adding a few minutes of stretching, which allows more oxygen into your body and encourages blood flow.
3. Walk more.
Concentrate on the sights, smells, and sounds that accompany your movement. If you can, spend a few minutes walking outside to observe nature.
4. Feel thankful.
Once a day, take a few minutes to think about an accomplishment or something else that fills you with gratitude. Practice finding joy as doing so you can change the direction of your day.
5. Enjoy your meal.
This sounds simple, but how often do you think about what you consume? Try to taste each ingredient or observe how thoroughly you chew. Pay attention to your food and how it makes you feel.
6. Breathe when there’s a ring or ping.
Instead of instantly reaching for a ringing phone or pinging computer, take several breaths before responding. Emails and calls raise stress levels, research shows. It’s important to pause and calm down before reacting.
Mindfulness is the antidote to multitasking and possible burnout. With practice, you can build your mental muscles to keep your mind from wandering and engage in what’s happening right now. That’s a win for you in and out of the workplace.