We all know the feeling all too well: you arrive at the office with a clear vision for the day, and then, in what you feel like an instant, you find yourself on your way back home. An entire workday has come and gone, but only a few of your goals have been reached. You can't even remember exactly what you have been doing all day. If that rings a bell, don't worry about it. You are far from being alone, with almost half of the population spending their days thinking about something other than what they should be doing. Basically, we are all running on autopilot.
The good news is that you can train your brain to function better by implementing mindfulness exercises throughout your day. Whether you handle the pr for law firms or run a busy marketing business, there are plenty of things that you can do to help you become focused and productive.
Breathe in bed
Start your day on the right foot. Researchers have found that most stress hormones are released within minutes of waking up. Thinking about the day ahead stimulates our fight-or-flight impulse and releases cortisol -the stress hormone - into our blood. When you wake up, try focusing on your breathing for a couple of minutes. If your mind begins to wander to the day ahead, let them go and try to return to your breathing.
Breathe at work
When you arrive at the office, take ten minutes before you plunge into action to recharge your brain with a brief mindfulness moment. Close your eyes, relax, and sit upright, but comfortably. Focus on your breathing. Try to maintain a continuous stream of attention to your breathing and the inhale/exhale process. To help you stay focused on your breathing, count each exhalation in silence. If your mind is distracted, simply let it go by shifting your attention back to your breathing. Enjoy these moments.
Focus and awareness
Once you finish this exercise and get ready to start working, mindfulness will help to make you more productive.
Mindful work means bringing focus and awareness to everything you do at work. Concentrate on the task at hand and identify and remove all internal and external distractions when they occur. Mindfulness helps to increase performance, reduce mistakes, and even promote creativity.
Email is one such distraction. They have a way of capturing our attention and diverting it to low-priority tasks because fulfilling small tasks quickly releases dopamine, a satisfying hormone, into our brains. This is what makes us addicted to emails and lose our focus. Instead, be careful when you open your inbox. Focus on what is relevant and retain a consciousness of what is simply noise. If possible, avoid opening your email inbox as soon as you get into the office. Doing this will allow you to escape the flood of distractions and short-term issues during a time when you should be at your most focussed and creative.
Mindfulness is about enhancing focus and awareness both in work and in life, taking away distractions and allowing you to focus on your career and personal goals.