In the first article of this two-part series on how to incorporate mindfulness into your working day, we talked about what mindfulness is, how it can help wellbeing and started looking at simple, practical ways to build mindfulness into a typical working day.
The article has generated a lot of conversation, especially around the various strategies you can use ‘on the job’. Before I introduce a few more ideas, I wanted to clarify a few myths that surround mindfulness.
What Mindfulness Isn’t
There are some frequently asked questions and comments about mindfulness which suggests there is a fair amount of misunderstanding around the subject, so I want to handle some of the more common considerations.
Do I have to start meditating?
Mindfulness is not automatically synonymous with meditation; it is just one mindfulness practice. If meditation isn’t your thing, that’s fine. There are plenty of other practical options for you to use.
Is It Anything To Do With Religion?
While many religions and cultures have practices that help encourage people to develop an awareness of the present moment and inner self, mindfulness isn’t associated with a particular religion, and it doesn’t conflict with any either.
What we’re talking about is mindfulness as a mental health tool, a skill you can learn, and for some people, it may become part of your lifestyle.
Mindfulness Isn’t Complicated
I like to think of myself as a pragmatic person, and if there’s one thing I have learnt over the years working with our clients – for any training solution to work, it has to incorporate tools and techniques that are easy to implement ‘on the job’.
There will always be individuals who want to make a subject complicated which sadly means some people feel intimidated before they even start to implement something new.
If you haven’t read the first article in this series, take a look now as you will quickly see from the techniques I have suggested so far, there are numerous ways to practice mindfulness that will help you focus and provide a number of wellbeing benefits.
With that in mind, let me share a few more that I hope you’ll find helpful.
Focus On One Task At A Time
Contrary to what we have previously believed is a productive way of working, multi-tasking comes at a cost – it will decrease your productivity.
So why do we still do it? Assistant Professor of Communication at Ohio State University Zheng Wang found that people multitask because it makes them ‘feel’ more productive.
The alternative is to become a star at ‘single-tasking’. Take one task at a time, being present and mindful in each task you do. You could do a simple experiment for yourself and make a journal of what you are doing when multi-tasking versus single tasking and notice which is most productive; I think you will be surprised.
Focus On What You Can Change
Whether we like it or not, there will be times when we don’t achieve a goal. Let’s say you miss a project deadline by a week, or you miss a sales target by 1%. The fact is it’s happened.
To be mindful means that you accept the present moment as it is. In the examples I’ve shared, the reality is the sales target was missed, and the deadline wasn’t hit. It’s a fact.
As soon as we accept the situation, we can learn from any mistakes, move forward and deal with it.
Turn Distractions Into Mindful Moments
Let me ask you a few questions; how many electronic devices do you use such as a phone, tablet, laptop, Apple watch, desktop PC etc.?
Now, how many different types of notifications do you have switched on across your various devices? I am guessing it’s quite a few.
If like most people you ‘react’ when you hear or see a message come through, how about you use these opportunities as mindful moments rather than reacting moments.
Rather than reacting to the ping of a text message, how about taking a moment to pause and become aware of your surroundings. Notice who is around, what sounds are you now aware of,
what’s happening around you? Now, if you need to you can respond to your message.
How about when your phone rings you take two small breaths before you answer.
What if before you respond to any distraction or demand you take the opportunity to simply pause and become mindful of where you are – come back into the present moment. Notice the difference in how you now respond when you do this and how more in control and calmer you allow yourself to feel.
Like anything, the more you practice different mindful techniques, the more of a natural habit it becomes and the more you will develop a growth mindset.
I’d be interested to hear which techniques you use and find helpful.
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