The modern working life has evolved into a fast-paced, non-stop environment. Some of us are struggling to perform tasks to the best of our ability because all too often we’re juggling our increasingly personal and professional multiple roles. It’s becoming even more difficult to get a moment to find focus in the present without also thinking about the obligations of everyday life as well as worrying about what the future might hold. The expectations we face can affect our mental wellbeing and therefore hinder our ability to engage with tasks productively. So what can we do to make life easier on ourselves?
What is mindfulness?
Whether it’s the incessant pinging of phone notifications or incoming emails and messages, unexpected interactions with work colleagues, or even the obligations of family life, we’re constantly distracted by external influences. The hours in the day evaporate so quickly it can be difficult to trace the time spent working and the time that feels wasted. As a result, it’s become difficult to grasp a relationship with the self. We need to find space to manage and maintain our own wellbeing alongside the duties of work.
Mindfulness then, is the ideal mental state where we are completely focused, present and aware of what we’re doing and where we are. Practicing mindfulness helps us to better understand ourselves and our capabilities, and ultimately lets us become the best we can be both at work and in our personal lives. The good news is that with a little personal discipline it can be learned and permanently incorporated into the way we work.
As a facet of Buddhist practice, mindful meditation has been proven to ground us in the present and reduce stress. However, whilst mindfulness can take a holistic approach, it can also arise from the action of designating time for ourselves.
For example, if we purposefully create space for ourselves between differing tasks, then we can focus our intent on main objectives. This technique aims to alleviate work-related anxieties and increases productivity by prioritising the most important tasks which we need to complete first.
Taking on tasks one at a time is a simple yet effective method to tackle a seemingly overwhelming workload because it allows us to engage thoughtfully on each one with our full attention. Admittedly, taking on one job at a time isn’t always easy, especially for longer term projects, but even these can be broken down into shorter, separate tasks. In short, by attentively planning our actions step by step, we can organise our thought processes far more systematically.
Cultivating a mindful mindset
Mindfulness can be interpreted in a multitude of ways depending on the individual. Ultimately though, it’s most effective when we focus our attention on the present moment because then we can make each action purposeful.
In essence, to cultivate a mindful mindset we need to allow ourselves a little clear thinking time to do this. It can be the simple act of taking time to breathe, with many utilising meditation as an outlet which aligns both the body and mind. Or it can be going outside to get a breath of fresh air, taking a short walk or listening to a mindfulness podcast. Essentially then, anything that gives us clear thinking space.
Finally, whilst the focus is clearly on the mind, we should never forget the benefits of good physical health too. If we can keep fit and active, and eat healthily, we will be helping to support and align our minds.
Pausing for thought to take on a mindful approach at work might mean incorporating a few changes into our daily lives, but the benefits are likely to be far reaching. We’ll be able to increase awareness of our working environment, focus on our workload more effectively, and become more resilient and more productive.