If you’re one of the many people who find themselves super busy every day at work, with back to back meetings, conference call central, emails coming out of your ears, lunch on the hoof and let’s face it, you wouldn’t be alone if you get to the end of the day without having had time to pee (we’ve all done the doorstep jig while trying to get the key in the door!), then you’re probably thinking how on earth do you squeeze in some “mindfulness”?
Actually, if this does sound like you, then the better question to ask is “How do I do my work/job more mindfully?”
You know all about this mindfulness mullarkey, it’s the ‘big thing’ right now. You know it has tonnes of benefits – reduced stress, increased productivity, greater innovation & creativity, better decision making, feeling more alert, but it just feels like another thing to do?! Sound familiar?
Thing is, a mindset shift is required. Rather than seeing it as another thing to do, see it as a way, a new “how”, to get all the other stuff done…. and done better – to a higher quality and more efficiently. Now, I’ve yet to meet any leader or manager that doesn’t want to do things better and quicker. You?
So, here’s my top 7 tips to help you be more mindful at work. Look at these as principles by which to operate as oppose to tasks to do and you’ll be far more successful.
- Be present – If you’re dialing into a conference call then commit to actually join and be ‘in it’ – contribute and participate, otherwise don’t bother joining it!! Whatever it is you’re doing, commit to give it your undivided attention.
- Use your senses – Whatever you’re working on, regularly connect with your senses not just get swamped in critical thinking. Wake up and smell the coffee in more than one sense of the word! For example, focus on your breathing for a minute, take in a smell, a sound. This optimises your brain function – it re balances your nervous system, toning down the fight or flight response and engaging your whole brain so you can make more reasoned decisions.
- Do one thing and do it brilliantly – In a world full of mediocrity it doesn’t take a lot to actually stand out from the crowd. Multitasking is rife and yet completely inefficient – the power of focus demonstrates this. Focus on one thing at a time, do it swiftly and do it brilliantly. Boom 💥! Next!!!
- Slow is smooth, smooth is fast – This is my Achilles heel! I rush everything because I have so much to do and it’s a false economy. It doesn’t serve me. My husband taught me this which he drew from his younger days in the military when loading and unloading a weapon. A simple principle that can be applied to anything. When we rush we’re slapdash (I love that word!), do a sloppy job, miss things, make mistakes, have to do things again. When we slow down we not only become more efficient, we also become happier, healthier and more resilient at work.
- Look for the good stuff – As humans we are predisposed to a ‘negativity bias’ which means we’re much more likely to focus on the things that aren’t working or have gone wrong. This then leads to confirmation bias (beliefs that we go looking for evidence to reinforce and we find it!) from unbalanced thinking. Gratitude is the antidote. Look for what’s going well, stuff that you can be thankful and grateful for in a work context. And when it comes to your team if you have one, look for evidence to catch them doing things right, not wrong. This outlook helps to improve your resilience and combat anxiety.
- Show a bit of humility – The greatest leaders demonstrate humility according to Jim Collins author of Good to Great. People with humility work hard but not for themselves or the business – they congratulate others for their achievements…. SPECIFICALLY. They don’t seek blame. Humility, like mindfulness, is about not having an inflated ego and accepting yourself just as you are and appreciating others.
- Have a growth mindset – Look to keep growing and learning. Develop your self awareness and constantly seek feedback. Brain scans have shown that compared to those with a fixed mindset, they do grow in intelligence and talent over time. In mindfulness terms this means not judging your innate talent or intelligence and being open to new possibilities – even negative feedback as it’s a chance to explore something new.
So, try a few of these out this mindfulness day. Adopting just one or two will make a positive difference to your well being and performance at work!