If there was a magic pill that made you sharper, more effective, more creative, and more socially skilled while simultaneously improving the quality of your decisions and reducing the number of mistakes you made – with side effects of lower stress and more happiness – would you take it?
And you’d probably give it to everyone on your team or in your organization as well.
While this magic pill doesn’t exist yet, mindfulness does all of those things.
Mindfulness is your competitive edge
Many people these days have heard of mindfulness and how beneficial it can be, but they’ve dismissed it due, in large part, to misunderstanding what it actually is.
Set aside any preconceived notions of sitting cross-legged on a pillow with your eyes closed and mind going blank. Instead, think of mindfulness as heightened focus and awareness. This combo is your competitive edge.
In action, mindfulness at work means being fully aware of what is happening, both inside of you and around you, and being able to direct and sustain your focused attention where you need it.
How much time do you spend on autopilot or lost in your head? If you’re anything like the average person, it’s at least 47% of the time. That means that you are not fully present and focused on what you are doing roughly half of the time. That also means that you’re likely missing out on lots of vital information. Imagine how much more effective you could be if you raised that number even a little bit.
Being able to direct and control your attention – focusing on what is important while filtering out distractions – allows you to perform at a higher level while exerting less energy. Multitasking is a myth. When we divide our attention, we are actually shifting back and forth from one task to the other, albeit sometimes very quickly. That shifting eats up our limited resource of attention and actually requires more energy and effort resulting in more mental fatigue and stress and less quality work.
Mindfulness – being aware and focused – is a core element of psychological strength. As with all core elements, it is a skill that can be developed if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to do so.
Tips to Try
While setting aside time most days for a formal mindful meditation practice (e.g., with an app like 10% Happier, Calm, or Headspace) can be tremendously beneficial, this just isn’t feasible for many people for a number of reasons. At Peak Mind, we are fans of finding effective ways to build mindfulness into the cracks of a busy, modern lifestyle. Try these tips out for a couple of weeks and see what a difference it can make.
1. Help you and your team have more effective meetings by starting with a little mindfulness. Ask everyone to set aside their phone, tablet, or laptop and spend the first 2 minutes of the meeting in silence thinking about the goals for the meeting. This will allow everyone to show up both physically and mentally, to become aware and focused on the task at hand. You will likely notice that meetings become more efficient.
2. Encourage employees (and model this behavior by doing it yourself) to carve out dedicated work times in which they focus solely on one important task or project. This means making these time blocks as distraction-free as possible by turning off notifications.
3. Build in mini-mindfulness breaks. Set a timer to go off hourly (or at least periodically). When the timer goes off, notice what you are doing and where your mind is. Were you focused on what you’re doing? Try to follow one full breath. This means resting your attention on your breath and trying to stay with it from the start of the inhale, to the pause at the top, and all the way through the exhale. Then, ask yourself, what do I want to focus on right now?
If you are interested in learning more ways to help you and your team develop this vital skill, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.