It affects our personal productivity, it diminishes the way other people perceive us as leaders, and it has a negative impact on the quality of our day-to-day life experiences.
When was the last time you sat down and read a book, or other publication, totally mindfully for an hour? By totally mindfully we mean: no checking email, no glancing at Facebook and no looking at the news headlines. No distractions at all, just reading the book and being fully engaged in the moment. This is a skill that we have collectively lost, like a muscle that has atrophied.
But help is at hand. A mindful approach to working can be adopted and built upon to optimise an individual’s performance. In order to reap the benefits of mindfulness we simply need to start practicing it in just the same way we get fitter when we exercise in the gym, or learn to play a musical instrument through continued practice.
Mindfulness is something most of us are aware of; we’ve all seen countless books on topics such as engagement, flow and mindfulness on bookstore shelves across the world. The important thing is to recognise that the time has come to go beyond just reading about mindfulness; it’s time to simply get on with it, apply it to our working lives and begin reaping the benefits.
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How employees can adopt a mindful approach to working
Whether or not we engage with a task or a situation mindfully is entirely our own choice. The choice is to take inward control and recognise that peak performance, and peak life experience, results from doing one thing well at any, and every, single moment in time.
SME environments are often dynamic, flexible and unstructured. The risks of distraction are enormous, but following the steps below will help people on their way to mindfully engaging with the specific task at hand.
Follow three steps
The first step on the road to mindfulness is to momentarily take stock of your working environment and ask yourself “Do I feel like I’m coping by spinning plates?” If the answer to this question throughout the day is too often “Yes”, then you must ask yourself the next question: “Do I have any islands of sanity during the day?” These are moments of relative calm where you can stop to take breath and think.
The third step is to realise that the number of these “islands of sanity” moments can progressively be increased. This can sometimes be achieved through small changes, such as turning your smartphone over during meetings, or something more significant such as fully completing a task and clearing your head before responding to a request for information from a colleague.
Practicing introducing these small adjustments into your day will have a big impact; as they cumulate you will create a working environment where you are far more mindfully engaged. Your personal productivity will benefit, your relationships will prosper, and your levels of enjoyment will increase too.
One of the most effective ways of bringing extra meaning to our activities is to engage with them mindfully. In other words, the very process of being mindful about what you are doing, for example having a meeting with a colleague or writing a report, makes those activities also feel more meaningful.
The time is now to start taking a mindful approach to your life, both inside and outside of work, by making incremental changes each day that will make a big difference to your performance and productivity. Put that phone away, turn off your email, reduce all outside noise that will distract you. Allow yourself to mindfully engage with each and every part of you day. The benefits of a mindful approach to life are huge.
Productivity has become one of the most talked about subjects in recent months. As such, Real Business pulled together the thoughts of EAT, StuRents and Motorclean to find out how innovation such as video conferencing, efficiency software and abandoning paper sales notes are bringing big returns.
Angus Ridgway is CEO and co-founder at Potentialife.
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