When the boss is demanding more and the workload just keeps piling up, it can be tempting to push it into overdrive and speed through the day. Unfortunately, that attitude can cause you to make mistakes, run yourself ragged, and eventually burn out. Want to truly boost productivity at work while keeping your health and sanity? Try these three mindfulness techniques the next time you have a lot to get done.
Does Mindfulness Really Make You More Productive?
Have you ever found yourself just sitting at your desk and staring at your full to-do list? Maybe you feel completely frozen because you don’t know where to start? When you have a ton of things to do, all with looming deadlines, it can be overwhelming.
Samantha Allen, editor at Do You Yoga, says that “mindfulness keeps you grounded in the present. So [that] you don’t get overwhelmed by all the items on your to-do list.” And according to an article in the ScienceDaily, practicing mindfulness also improves your ability to focus:
“Specifically, mindfulness has been shown to improve three qualities of attention — stability, control and efficiency. The human mind is estimated to wander roughly half of our waking hours, but mindfulness can stabilize attention in the present. Individuals who completed mindfulness training were shown to remain vigilant longer on both visual and listening tasks.”
When you are clear minded and present, priorities seem to align themselves. Your ability to navigate that never ending to-do list becomes much more efficient. Ready to boost productivity but not sure where to start? Try implementing one of these three mindfulness techniques into your daily routine.
1. Breathe Away the Stress
When you start to get flustered and overwhelmed by all the things you need to accomplish, stop for a moment to breathe. Don’t allow your anxiety to turn into panic. Panicking is a sure fire way to sabotage your productivity (and lose your sanity).
Christopher Edgar, author of Inner Productivity: A Mindful Path to Efficiency and Enjoyment in Your Work, makes this suggestion. “Instead of trying to distract yourself from a sensation you don’t like, take a moment to observe and identify what the sensation is. Allow your breath to come slowly and naturally. Think of the anxiety as a barrier to accomplishing what you want. Breathing takes your mind off of your worries and helps you focus on what’s happening right now.”
Developing a habit of pausing to breathe when you get overwhelmed is an invaluable tool to have in your productivity arsenal. Try this simple but useful tip to help you remember. Write “pause” or “breathe” on a sticky note and place it on your desk where you will see it often.
2. Start a Meditation Practice
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of starting a meditation practice. Meditation is simply clearing your mind and sitting quietly for a period of time. The key is to start small. Don’t try to jump into an hour long meditation session right off the bat. You can even start with practicing for one minute. Then extend it for three minutes, then five, then ten.
The best way to begin is to use a guided meditation. The guide will direct your focus and remind you to keep letting go of whatever thoughts are cluttering your mind. Try this guided meditation for beginners video by Deepak Chopra or download the Headspace app to take your meditation practice on the go.
No matter what tool you use or how much time you dedicate to meditation, make it a regular practice. Schedule it on your calendar and make it a priority.
3. Begin Each Day with a Brain Dump
It might not be the most appealing name, but the brain dump exercise has proven to be one of the most effective tools for clearing the mind, organizing to-do lists, and prioritizing tasks. If you’re like most people, you probably try to juggle a lot of your tasks, appointments, and schedules in your head. According to her article in Fast Company magazine, Stephanie Vozza says that “Mental lists are more difficult to manage than physical lists. They often feel larger and more overwhelming than they actually are, and they are nearly impossible to prioritize and estimate.”
So how exactly do you make this mindful shift from scattered and overwhelmed to organized and productive? Practice the daily brain dump.
- First, choose a medium – pen and paper, or computer. It doesn’t matter which one, just choose the one you feel most comfortable with.
- Second, sit down and write or type everything that is on your mind. It can be all the things you need to do, something that has been bothering you, or even what you plan to make for dinner that night.
- Third, pull out all the important things and ditch the rest. Now that you’d decluttered your mind, it will be much easier to see the things you need to do and how to prioritize them. Make sure you get them all onto you to-do list or scheduled onto your calendar.
It’s best to do this first thing in the morning so you can organize your day and start with a clear mind and focus. However, sometimes it is helpful to do it at night if you have trouble sleeping. You’ll clear your mind before bed and have an organized to-do list when you wake up in the morning.
Creating a daily mindfulness routine can boost productivity and so much more! You’ll be more grounded and present, clear minded, and focused. The next time the work begins to pile up, you’ll be ready (and so, so calm).
Do you have a favorite mindfulness activity? How has it helped you be more productive? Share with us in the comments below!