Life at work can be a never-ending to-do list. Call this person back, send those emails, book that meeting…the list goes on and on. With all the rushing, typing, talking, and meeting, it’s understandable how you can get stressed by what’s next, instead of focussing on what’s right in front of you — the present moment.
Mindfulness is a practice that can help you slow down, breathe, and tap into the awareness of how and why you’re feeling a particular way. Being mindful is about being present and focusing on what is happening to you and around you. It’s a practice that allows you to observe and accept the thoughts, emotions, and consequences of your current situation.
But how is it possible to focus on the now, when there are a million other thoughts and questions running through your head? Here are three ideas to help you bring mindfulness to your work:
- Stay away from multitasking.
Contrary to popular belief, multitasking does not mean you are more efficient. Because you’re less distracted, focusing on one task can actually be more helpful in completing your work in less time and with greater accuracy. Most importantly, it means you have given your energy and thoughts to that one particular job, and that usually translates into producing a better product. Find ways that work for you to “single-task”: split your day into blocks of time, for example; or find a quiet place away from your usual workspace to make a dent in that report.
- Notice and acknowledge your emotions.
Take notice of your emotions throughout the day, and when and why they might happen. If you’re having a conflict with a co-worker, evaluate the source of the issue. Is it how they’re speaking to you, or how they approached you? Are you overwhelmed with another task, and can’t focus on their needs right now? Take a moment to breathe, understand what’s going on internally, and respond appropriately. Acknowledging how you feel will give you a sign in how to approach the situation.
- Reflect on the positive.
At the end of the day, reflect on what made you feel good about your work day. Maybe you were nervous about a meeting with an upset client, but it ended well. What caused this? Was it your tone of voice? Did you come to a resolution for both you and the client? Was it how you listened to their concerns? Reflecting on the successes of your work today is a great motivator for being present tomorrow — and it’s also helpful in assessing what you might do the same or differently if the situation happens again.
Like any new skill, embracing mindfulness takes practice, but the benefits can be worth it. Mindfulness practice has been linked to reducing levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Be patient with yourself as you practice these new techniques. Mindfulness at work is all part of achieving a well-balanced, healthier you.
This article was written by the YMCA of Greater Toronto Area.