As counter-intuitive as it may seem, slowing down and taking time to do NOTHING can actually help you accomplish MORE.
As we run around doing ten things at once, we create more stress for ourselves which actually works against efficiency and causes us to accomplish less.
In our desperation to be more productive, we are creating the opposite effect. Yet we continue to take more on, adding more balls to the juggling act.
Studies have established that the practice of observing predictable time off from working actually improves efficiency. Other studies show that mindfulness can increase improve focus, productivity and creativity by enhancing our executive functioning skills.
Here are 5 ways for bringing the practice of mindfulness into your daily work life so you can have less stress and accomplish more:
1. Wash your Hands like a Zen Master
Since hand-washing is something we all do every day, build in some mindfulness training each time you hit the sink. Slow down, listen carefully for the sounds, feel the sensations, smell the scents… Really focus on the simple yet full experience of washing your hands and keep complete attention on this experience for 30 seconds. Do the same as you mindfully dry your hands.
2. Wait Patiently and Mindfully
Whether you are sitting in traffic, standing in the line at the bank or waiting for your doctor to show up in the exam room, these are perfect opportunities to practice BEING. Forego the magazine-reading and put away your phone and tablet. Sit or stand and do absolutely nothing but notice the sensation of the air around you, the seat beneath you, the scents, the sounds. Discipline your mind to stay fully present. Notice feelings of boredom or agitation and try to breathe and be still through those feelings.
3. Take the Stairs…One at a Time
We all know foregoing the elevator and taking the stairs can be good for heart-health. It also can be good for mental-health and productivity. When you need to get a file up to another department or you are headed out for lunch break, take the stairs. But take them slowly. One at a time. Feel the weight of your body fully shift into one leg and foot on the step before placing the other foot on the next step. Notice the echo in the stairwell, the smell, the feeling in your body as you slowly climb. Feel your breath and your heartbeat. This act of mindfulness on a regular basis will increase focus and efficiency when you get to wherever you’re going.
4. Take a Breathing Break
Instead of a coffee break, opt for a breathing break. Set your alarm every hour to take a break, close your office door, sit and do NOTHING but breathe and watch your breath for 3 minutes. Just 3 minutes at the top of every hour spent at your desk is like a reset button for your brain.
5. Invite in a Guru into the Office
Okay, it doesn’t have to be a guru per se. But consider bringing in a registered yoga teacher to lead an office yoga class or a workshop on mindfulness meditation. It can help to have a seasoned expert lead you and your peers in having an actual experience of practicing mindfulness.
Whether you start your mindfulness practice through a corporate workshop, at a nearby yoga class, or just sitting at your desk, make a commitment to yourself to train your brain to press the pause button, slow down and just notice. The more you practice, the more natural it will come and you will notice you are more patient and getting more accomplished with greater ease.
In a society of ongoing digital demands and internet everything, we must reclaim our minds, our bodies and our lives by choosing to be mindful through daily practice or else we WILL burn ourselves out. The irony is, through practicing doing nothing we truly will see tasks completed with greater ease and we will have more white space in our lives to laugh and breathe easy.