With so much going on in our lives and so many decisions to be made on a daily basis, it’s easy to get to work and go straight into autopilot mode.
Having a small amount of mindless work each day can be a nice way to switch off for a little while. However, if you’re spending your eight hours in a state of disconnect or finding yourself constantly distracted, you risk making errors. What’s more, a lack of focus can lead to you feeling disengaged and frustrated with your job.
There has been a great deal of talk about mindfulness in our personal lives and with our families but it matters at work as well. By being mindful, we can be present in the moment. At work, this can help to increase performance and wellbeing.
Here are a few tips to stay mindful in the workplace:
Turn off notifications
Ever showed up to a meeting, only to have people constantly distracted by their phones? It leads to time lost and a disconnect between the people in the room (or on the Zoom call).
A simple mindfulness practice is to be focused on what you’re doing, while you’re doing it so pop your phone on silent during meetings.
Do the same when you’re completing other work-related tasks. Put your phone out of reach, ignore the beeps from the washing machine if you’re at home and add a ‘do not disturb’ to your messenger status so you can focus.
Staying focused is not always easy, especially because we tend to place expectations on ourselves of being able to concentrate for long periods of time. If you’re someone who finds your mind wandering or who can’t help but constantly switch between tasks, try the pomodoro method.
This involves setting a timer, working for 15 minutes then taking a 5-minute break. Repeat this three or four times then give yourself a 20-minute break. By setting a clock and doing your best not to allow yourself to become distracted, you’ll train yourself to focus for longer periods of time.
People at all levels of the business world swear by this simple technique. There are several apps which will help you to apply it.
Speaking of switching between tasks; don’t do it!
Multitasking has been found to be a myth. What you are really doing is ‘context’ switching’, which can eat into your productivity.
Instead of multitasking, work through one job at a time. Be mindful about the task you’re working on. It will help you to feel less stressed and more focused throughout the day.
Acknowledge your feelings
A big part of mindfulness is stopping to register what’s going on, both around you and in your head.
If you’re feeling anxious, pause and ask yourself why. Is it because of a deadline or because you don’t understand something? Once you’re clear on what is causing these feelings, you can work out what to do about them.
Be clear on your priorities
Many of us feel overwhelmed and try to accomplish too much in a day. We end up scattered and with a lot of half-finished tasks.
If you can, at the end of each day, write down the most important tasks for tomorrow. Keep the list short, to only two or three essential things. There are certain to be distractions and emergencies to fill the gaps but you’ll save yourself from feeling stressed out if you leave yourself the breathing room to tackle them.
Gratitude is heavily promoted in our personal lives but it’s not something we think about often at work… it is work after all.
However, pausing to be grateful can help you to feel more fulfilled about what it is you do. You are lucky to have a job and you are lucky to be surrounded by hard working people. If a feeling of gratitude is impossible to come by, acknowledge this and start making a plan for change which could involve upskilling, finding another role or working towards a promotion.