The word ‘mindfulness’ is everywhere these days. Somehow the Buddhist practice that originated thousands of years ago has become increasingly popular in the East. Our lives, especially our working lives, are hectic and often overwhelming. The work continues to pile up, cut-backs continue and people are pushed to their limit. Many of us are forced to work around the clock by responding to texts and emails at all hours of the day. This isn’t healthy, never was and never will be. Will it change? Likely not. We are attached to our cell phones, social media and the quality time spent with friends and family is becoming less and less. This is why mindfulness is suddenly so huge. It’s sad really that it took this many years for the media to grab a hold of it and encourage people to live in the ‘present.’ In fact, that is exactly what mindfulness is. You can make it complicated, sugar coat it and tell people to sit cross-legged meditating for hours, but it really is a simple concept. No need to take it to the extreme or believe everything you hear. The word mindfulness simply means to bring your awareness to the present moment.
Many of us drive to work in the morning on autopilot, not even remembering the hour drive to work. This would be a perfect time to practice mindfulness for 60 seconds. Turn off the radio, roll down the window and pay attention to your surroundings. Forget about yesterday or even what happened before you left this morning. Right now I am in my car driving to work. That is all. Breathe in the fresh air, take a few deep breaths and vwah-la, you just practiced mindfulness. It’s that easy. Whatever we are doing, whether it is driving to work, sitting in a meeting or working on a project, there is always an opportunity to bring our awareness back to what we are doing at that moment, even if it is just for 60 seconds. Do one thing at a time, do it well and then go on to the next. Our brains are not actually meant to multitask as much as we do these days. If we practice mindfulness, approaching each task throughout the day with our full attention, we are likely to be more productive, less stressed and happier overall. Did you know that for most managers, one-third of their time is spent in meetings? This increases to over 50% for upper management. So many people are running from meeting to meeting with little to no time for other daily tasks. It’s tiring and not to mention, a lot of scheduled meetings are unproductive and stress inducing.
I remember attending our regular team meetings at a company I had previously worked for. They were the most inefficient and stressful meetings I have ever been to. Everyone felt the need to speak at once, there was no proper flow to the meetings and co-workers were raising their voices, speaking over one another and trying to get their point across. Complete chaos. I remember sitting there, my heart racing and wondering why these meetings were always like this. When the meetings ended, it seemed like nothing was accomplished and were a complete waste of everyone's time. This is where mindfulness could have worked well. Each participant taking 60 seconds to be mindful prior to the meeting. Sitting in a comfortable position, prepared, focused, actively engaged and listening to one person speak at a time. Put the cell phone away, take notes and know that this one hour meeting is meant to benefit every person in the room. Right now I am in this meeting for one hour. I am here and nowhere else. There is a reason the meeting was scheduled in the first place and chances are, if we are focusing on the present moment in our meetings, they are likely to get shorter and shorter each time. This means more time for our other tasks. Yahoo! Again, it really is a simply practice and can make a huge difference in the workplace. Best part? All it takes is 60 seconds. I encourage you to give it a try and let me know how it works. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!