There are very simple and proven ways to improve productivity with mindfulness. This article will go into the ways to be more mindful, the benefits of mindfulness, and how to apply it to be more productive in your daily life.
Being mindful is a current trend that has been around for thousands of years. Back when our lives were more simple, it was much easier to find quite time and focus on simple tasks to quite the mind.
In today’s world where we find ourselves constantly multitasking and have way more on our plates then we should. Today, being mindful is more important then ever.
Mindfulness needs to become an important part of our daily lives like exercise and healthy eating. Mindfulness does for our minds what healthy eating and exercise does for our bodies.
What is Mindfulness
So you are probably asking, what is mindfulness? Simply put, mindfulness is focusing your awareness on the present moment. This means you are not thinking about something in the past or future, you are completely focus on the activity you are engaged in right now.
Mindfulness is paying attention to what you’re feeling, thinking, and seeing right now, without judgment. The no judgement part is really important here. You must accept your thoughts and feelings as they are without applying our personal paradigm to the situation. Only then will you see life as it really is.
Our lives took a turn for the worse when we tried to model our lives after computers. Computers are designed to do many things very fast and efficiently, can multitask, and have almost unlimited storage of information that can be applied to a computer’s program or task.
The problem here is we are not computers. Our brains and bodies are made to work differently.
We are designed to be creative thinkers and apply those thoughts into actions.
Mindfulness is designed for humans and the way our bodies were made to work. It focuses all our attention on the present moment and on a single task. It focuses on the simple stuff without judgments so we can make better decisions in our lives.
Benefits of Mindfulness
The benefits of mindfulness are most often derived during the practice of a meditation practice. But, it is important to note that mindfulness is NOT only practiced during meditation. It should be practiced all day long.
Mindfulness is used in just about all meditation practices. Meditation and mindfulness are considered tools, like a hammer and nail, or a nut and wrench. One is considered almost useless without the other. They are incredibly powerful when used together.
So why do it? Simply put, mindfulness makes you happier. How much happier will depend on how often you do it and how good you get at it. Imagine how much happier you will be if you were able to remove stress, improve your health, and improve your focus so you can accomplish your goals. Pretty good stuff!
I recently finished reading “10% Happier” from Dan Harris and recommend it for anyone interested in learning more. It is an extremely funny book that introduces you to the benefits and purpose of mindfulness without all the spiritual you find in most guides.
Some of the benefits you will get from being more mindful.
Improve Your Focus
Focus is a skill that can be learned and improved. Just a few minutes of “practicing” your ability to focus will bring the benefits to your attention levels all day. The longer and more often you do meditation, the better your focus will improve. It works very similar to a muscle and responds well to this type of training. The best thing is you can see your focus improve drastically within just a few days of meditation.
Reduce Your Stress
It is common knowledge that meditation and mindfulness are fantastic ways to reduce stress in your lives. I consider it the number one thing anyone can do to control stress, and is sometimes considered more powerful then medication and therapy. Science shows that it can even make very stressful situations easier to handle. It lowers your cortisol levels—the hormone most responsible for stress. There are countless studies that show the proven benefits of meditation in treating anxiety and stress, and the copay is less then 20 minutes a day.
Improve Your Empathy
Mindfulness will help you connect with other people and make you more likable and sociable. Studies have shown having compassion and empathy towards other people also increases your happiness and success in life. The nicer you are, the more opportunities you tend to get. Nice people don’t have to finish last.
Improve Your Emotional Stability
We live in a world where bad news can come at us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In our global society, news travels not only fast but from every corner of the world (and beyond).
Meditation and mindfulness helps control the negative feelings all this information can bring and protect you from the emotions you would normally feel by it. By accepting this news for what it really is and not making it into a monster, you are better able to evaluate it and react appropriately.
Increase Your Cognitive Flexibility
Cognitive flexibility is a critical executive function that can be broadly defined as the ability to adapt behaviors in response to changes in the environment. This simply means it allows you to see the world in a new way, and behave differently than you have in the past. It helps you to respond to negative or stressful situations more skillfully and without judgement.
Improve Your Memory
Working memory is the number of facts you can hold in your head at once and is a crucial aspect of effectiveness in learning, problem solving, and organization. A study of military personnel under stress showed that those who practiced mindfulness experienced a boost in working memory, as well as feeling better than those who didn’t practice. Another study shows that it not only improves memory, but boosts test scores, too. Even practicing mindfulness for as short as 4 days may improve memory and other cognitive skills.
Helps Control Pain
There are studies that have shown practicing mindfulness meditation changes your physical brain structure in many ways; one is that it actually increases the thickness of your cortex, which reduces your sensitivity to pain. This is a common practice for doctors to prescribe meditation to their patients to control pain and it has been very successful.
Other Brain Improvements
Mindfulness trains the prefrontal lobe area of your brain and it actually gets bigger from this training. Mindfulness enhances other areas of your life which give the benefits of an entire package of related functions such as self-insight, morality, intuition, and fear modulation.
Obviously, mindfulness and meditation is an important part of any ongoing wellbeing program. The secret to gaining the benefits of mindfulness is simple: do it everyday and enjoy your 20 minutes of peace in this crazy world we all live in.
Being Mindful in Today’s Business World
In today’s business world, everyone is looking for an advantage. We are looking for ways to be more productive and always be on top of your game. All the benefits listed above would be a very clear advantage in your career and give you the tools and abilities you need to to get ahead and become successful.
But everything comes with a cost. What does meditation cost you? I do my practices a few times a day for just a few minutes each time, usually under 20 minutes total. On those crazy days, I squeeze it into just 10 minutes but i never miss an opportunity to recharge and refocus on my priorities.
The point is when things are crazy, you run out of your “focus energy” and mindful meditation recharges your ability to focus and gets you back on track. Logic tells us it’s the times we are too busy are exactly the times we need more meditation and mindfulness.
Think about it logically. The more you write with your pencil, the more sharping it needs. The more you drive your car, the more gas it needs. The same is true with your mind. The more things you focus on in a day, the more recharging your brain will need. This is done through mindful meditation.
There is an old Zen saying.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”‘You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.'” quote=”‘You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.'” theme=”style3″]
Mindfulness and Your Goals
There are tons of benefits in applying mindfulness on your personal and organizational goals. Mindfulness programs help leaders and employees reflect effectively, focus sharply on the task at hand, master peak levels of stress, and recharge quickly. On an organizational level, mindfulness reduces sick days, increases trust in leadership, and boosts employee engagement. What’s more, mindfulness helps to unlock the full potential of digital and agile transformations.
There is a famous story about Warren Buffet when he gives his pilot advice about the keys to achieving goals. It is called the 5/25 rule. Simple put, you write down your 25 most important goals and order them from most important to least important. Then you circle the top 5 and cross out the rest. You then spend all your time focused on the top 5 goals while actively avoiding the other 20.
Mindfulness gives you the tools to actively focus on the 5 and avoid the 20. You clear your mind of all other things and then focus all your energy on just one goal until you are successful. Repeat for all the top goals and watch your life transform.
Steps to Improve Productivity with Mindfulness
There are thousands of websites with tons of information on how to be mindful and different ways to meditate. This is because there are many paths to refocus the mind and I encourage you to read all you can and find the best method for you. Here is just one simple way I sometimes use but its not the only way for sure. Experiment and find the way that works best for you.
Sit upright in a distraction free place, relax, and take a deep breath. Be aware of sounds around you coming and going, and let them be whatever they are. Keep taking and releasing slow, deep breaths.
Close your eyes and forget about any concerns you may have at the moment. Focus on the now and not something that just happened or something you need to do later. The only time that exists is now.
Now focus on your breath. Pay attention to how it feels to breath. Feel the air going through your nose and into your chest. Do the same with the exhale.
Start counting your breaths softly from 1 to 10, and then repeat. The purpose he is to help you avoid other thoughts by counting to yourself. Control your thoughts and stay present in the moment. Your mind will wonder and when it does, just bring it back to the moment and to your breath.
Get more and more absorbed in your breathing. The more you focus on your breath, the better your recharge will be so keep returning back to it. Once your mind settles down during the first few minutes, you will find it easier to focus your attention back to your breathing.
Now, bring your attention to the thoughts that are moving through your mind trying to pull your attention away from your breath. Take notice of them. This is the most important step. Let yourself be aware of those thoughts, feelings, and memories. Your streams of thoughts will keep pulling your mind away from your breath. Notice them but don’t let them control you or your thoughts on your breath.
This is a simple form of awareness and don’t judge yourself or your thoughts. The idea is to sit with your thoughts and let them be whatever they are. Notice their impermanence as they fade off and disappear. Each time you catch yourself being dragged away by a thought, gently bring back your focus to your breath.
Sit for as long as you have time for but don’t get carried away. You will receive a ton of benefits from 20 minutes a day and this is what I recommend when starting out. Do this for a few days and notice how you start to feel the benefits listed above.
If you don’t take the time to take care of your mental well being, everything else in your life will fall apart. Spending 20 minutes a day is nothing compared to the benefits you will receive.
I highly recommend learning as much as you can about this before starting a meditation practice. I recommend maybe grabbing a few books (physical, eBook, or Audio book) and learning the whys and how’s before starting. If you don’t really understand why you are doing something, you will not likely be motivated to finish it and you will lose out on your needed life improvements.
Be careful who you get your advice from. Make sure you are willing to trade places with them and their advice will matter much more to you. I really enjoyed the “10% Happier” book mainly because it was written in a non-spiritual way from someone I can relate to.
If you enjoyed my improve productivity with mindfulness article , lease consider leaving a comment below and signing up to my email list. I create new articles just a few times a month and you can be the first to know about them. Let me know if you started a meditation practice and what you do to be more mindful during the day. How has it helped you in your personal career and in your personal life.