ARE YOUR EMPLOYEES EASILY DISTRACTED? TRY MINDFULNESS!

Are your employees caught up in the daily grind?  Ever feel like they are just going through the motions each day?

Life is busy – both at work and at home. It’s easy for employees to lose themselves in small, insignificant tasks and just plug along each day.

How would it feel if they had a greater sense of purpose each day? Would they be able to accomplish more of what really matters to the company?

Mindfulness has been in the media a lot lately. It has been incorporated into elementary schools, hospitals, and corporations. Many people immediately think of meditation when they hear the word mindfulness, but mindfulness is more than that.

Jon Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), developed at the University of Massachusetts in the 1970s has also become increasingly popular with programs offered throughout the world. You can learn more about living in the moment by reading his best selling book Wherever You Go, There You Are.

Here are two ways that mindfulness can help your employees stay focused and in the moment so that their days will no longer feel like a series of meaningless tasks.

2 WAYS TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS

1.    MEDITATE

Most often associated with mindfulness, meditation has been around for thousands of years. I am not an expert in meditation, but have found that practicing 5 minutes of meditation each morning has made a difference for me. 5 minutes? For those of you who are serious about meditating, please don't judge me. If you are like me (very left-brain oriented and resistant to sitting still for any length of time) 5 minutes is LONG. So what got me to do it?

A few years ago, I read the book The Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonical. When the author described meditation as a way to improve focus, I was intrigued.

When meditating (at least as I will describe it – and I recognize there are many methods of meditating) you breathe in and out through your nose. The idea is to breathe in deeply and exhale slowly, focusing only on your breath. This is where you might say “but, Sharon, there are a million thoughts flying through my head.” Exactly.

Let the thoughts drift to the side, with no judgment, and bring yourself back to focusing on your breath. As you do this repeatedly, you are strengthening your ability to get your brain to focus. Imagine how this can help you throughout the day when you are trying to concentrate and other thoughts fly into your head. Pretty great, right?

The author suggests starting with 10 or 20 minutes a day. That seemed like a lifetime to me, so I started with 2 minutes. And now I’m up to 5 minutes. I’m happy with that for now, but may decide to increase it at some point. Most importantly, start with an amount of time you know you can accomplish and build from there.

I started meditating because it would improve my ability to focus throughout the day, but I discovered another great benefit. After my 5 minute meditation each morning, I feel calm, grounded, and start my day with a sense of purpose.

2.    AVOID CONTAMINATING TIME

Brigid Schulte’s book Overwhelmed, discusses the concept of “Contaminated Time.” Do you ever find that when you are in a meeting or waiting in line at the supermarket your mind starts wandering to (and stressing over) what you have to do later that day?

It might be something like “When will this meeting be over? I have a million phone calls to make and I know I’m going to have about 200 emails waiting for me?” This is contaminated time – future worry and stress is being brought into the present and contaminating the time that you are in. Wherever you are, be totally present and try to only focus on what is being discussed. This conscious state of being is mindfulness.

This can also be applied to the time you spend with your children or loved ones. If you have your phone at the dinner table, you are contaminating the time and not being fully present. Want to know more?  Here’s an interesting interview with Brigid Schulte about her book.

These two simple and effective tools can make a huge difference in helping your employees reduce distractions.

Meditating and avoiding contaminating time provide a sense of focus and purpose.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

I'd love to hear your thoughts - please comment below.

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