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Published on January 11, 2021

8 Simple Ways To Be Mindful At Work For Better Focus

8 Simple Ways To Be Mindful At Work For Better Focus

It’s easy to get caught up in the world around us—to react to events without thinking about what they mean to us, to judge others without a thought about what may be happening in their world, and to allow distractions to keep us from doing what we should be doing At that moment. It’s this way of reacting to events and situations that lead to many people being stressed out, overwhelmed, and busy.

Becoming more mindful at work means we step back and take a few minutes when events happen and analyze their meaning to us at the moment. It means we don’t react immediately. Instead, we pause, consider the situation, and then act.

A simple example of this can be seen every day. We notice an elderly person struggling to carry a heavy box or shopping bag up a flight of stairs and yet, so many people walk by lost in their own world of stress and worry without even noticing. A mindful person would be immediately aware of the struggling person and stop and offer help because they are aware of their surroundings at the moment and not lost in the past or future.

One of the benefits of being more mindful is that it can help us to be more focused on our work. It can help us ignore distractions and focus on what’s important and not get lost in the trivialities that often lead to that unproductive feeling of being busy and overwhelmed.

By being more aware of our surroundings and knowing what we are trying to accomplish each day, we can evaluate new inputs—whether they are gossiping colleagues or office emergencies—and decide whether they deserve our full attention or not.

How do we take the practice of mindfulness and apply it to our lives? Here are 8 simple ways you can use to become more mindful at work and help you better focus.

1. Start With a Plan

Most of the reasons why we find it difficult to focus while at work is because we do not start the day with a plan. When you do not have a plan for the day, you are going to be influenced by events and any distractions that come your way.

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Being more mindful at work means knowing what you want to accomplish for the day and having a plan to make it happen. But more importantly, it means you have taken some time to think about what is important (and what is not) and evaluate what needs to happen to get the important things done.

Now, your plan for the day does not need to be detailed. It’s simply asking, “what do I want to accomplish today?” That could be to finish a report you have been laboring over for a few weeks. It could be to deliver an outstanding presentation or resolve an issue with a difficult customer.

The key is stepping back at the end of the day and asking yourself what you want to get done tomorrow and writing it down somewhere you will see the next day when you start your work.

2. Begin the Day With a Review of Your Plan

Part of becoming more mindful at work is being aware of what you are trying to accomplish and focusing your energies on accomplishing it. One way to do this is to take the plan you made the previous day, look at it, and visualize completing your plan.

This only takes a few minutes, but you would want to do it in a quiet place, reviewing your list, closing your eyes, and, for a few minutes, imagining yourself completing those tasks. Imagine how you will feel once you have finished and then, slowly opening your eyes and starting the day.

3. Have a Daily Routine to Start the Day

There is a lot written about morning and evening routines, and there’s a good reason. When you begin and end the day in the same way, you put yourself in the right frame of mind to begin and end your day.

Being more mindful at work is all about being more aware of yourself and others and having a set of daily routines that will put you in the right “state” to be aware of what is going on around you. Routines help you be more aware of how you are feeling. You will notice this if you are feeling stressed or tired, and you can ask yourself why you feel that way. You notice differences in the way you feel.

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For example, if you start the day with exercise and you notice you are not putting in as much effort as you normally do, you can ask yourself: why? Are you tired? Are you stressed? Is there something on your mind? Asking these questions allows you to be more mindful about your physical and mental condition and you can then take steps to rectify whatever it is that is bothering you.

4. Do One Thing at a Time

By now, you should have realized that ‘multitasking’ is a myth and does not work.[1] When we multitask, we are not really doing two things simultaneously. What we are doing is task-switching, which means our brain is moving from one focus to another at high speed. This is an incredibly inefficient way of working and rapidly leads to tiredness, an inability to focus for long periods of time, and a reduction in our willpower.

Multitasking also means we stop being present because we are trying to focus on too many things at once and when that happens, we are likely to miss important details and make mistakes. Instead, take one piece of work and work on that to the exclusion of everything else. Don’t have multiple windows open on your computer, and only have the window you need to do the work you have chosen at that particular time.

Once you finish that work, take a short break—move—and when you return to your place of work, start the next item you want to work on. When you get into this practice, you will soon find yourself becoming more focused and more mindful about what you are doing.

5. Close Down Email and Other Forms of Communication

If you really want to become more mindful at work, you need to do whatever it takes to reduce your distractions. This means turning off notifications and only opening your email and other communication tools when you have decided you want to work on your communications.

One thing we need to understand is that if there really was something urgent and that required our attention immediately, nobody would use email or Slack to tell you. They would either walk over to your workstation or phone you. If your house was on fire, your neighbor would not email or Slack message you to tell you. They would use a more immediate form of communication.

The same applies to your work. Stop worrying about angry bosses and upset clients. They are very rare and remember, you are employed to do your work, not to be the fastest at responding to messages and emails. If an issue was genuinely urgent, you would quickly hear about it.

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6. Give Yourself Some Alone Time Every Day

The world is very distracting and demanding. If it is not our work colleagues and customers, it is an advertisement and NEWS that are trying to get our attention and cause us to react in positive and negative ways.

With all these distractions, it is very hard to get a moment of peace, and yet, if you want to be better focused, you need some time each day for quiet reflection away from all those demands and noise.

Fifteen to twenty minutes alone in a quiet room—or better yet, in nature—will give you the time to reflect, to turn off, and enjoy the peace around you. Doing this will help you become more aware of what is going on around you and how you are feeling and brings some much-needed perspective to your life.

7. Listen

And when I say “listen,” I mean truly listen. Too often, we are not really listening. Instead, we are thinking of the next thing to say or being judgmental about what the other person is saying. Stop this. It does you no good and is not helpful to the person you are talking with or yourself.

When you stop judging and start listening, you will soon see another perspective. You may not agree with that perspective or opinion, but remember that is all it is—a perspective or opinion. You are not duty-bound to agree with them or change another person’s viewpoint, but you will find yourself better understanding why a person thinks that way if you stop trying to change their opinions and instead, listen to what they have to say.

I know this is hard to do because we naturally want other people to agree with our view of the world. But part of what makes humans so unique is we all have a different view of the world, and that is what makes us special. It would not be a nice world if everyone shared the same view of the world and events.

8. Practice Meditation

Giving yourself some time to meditate each day will help you become more mindful and more focused. Meditation is a form of training for the mind to stop thinking and just be.

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Meditating each day does not have to be done for long. I’ve always found ten minutes every day works for me. Others prefer to do two sessions a day fifteen to twenty minutes in the morning and evening.

How long and how frequently you meditate is not relevant. Just doing a few minutes each day will help improve your focus. By training your mind to stop and just focus on your breathing or the sound of the refrigerator,+ you develop a powerful ability to focus.

Final Thoughts

It can be very difficult to focus on the “always-on” world we live in today. But if you want to perform at your very best and be more mindful at work, be aware of the needs of the people around you, and live a fulfilled, stress-free life.

Becoming more mindful about yourself and others is a great way to become more focused, less stressed, and ultimately, a lot happier.

More Tips on How to Be More Mindful at Work

Featured photo credit: Bench Accounting via unsplash.com

Reference

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Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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Published on April 8, 2021

10 Simple Ways To Refocus a Wandering Mind

10 Simple Ways To Refocus a Wandering Mind

Want to know what Steve Jobs thought was the ultimate key in achieving success?

“Focus and simplicity… once you get there, you can move mountains.”—Steve Jobs

And this belief is even more important today than it was years ago. At your fingertips is a literal world of information and entertainment. So, it’s no wonder we all have such wandering minds nowadays.

Thanks to the internet and smartphones, attention is practically a currency we should be more budget-minded about. In fact, a person who can stay focused is not only more likely to get more done but also be more satisfied at the end of the day because of it.

Going further, a person who’s focused will more easily achieve their goals—anything from losing 20 pounds to getting a promotion at work is within the reach of this type of person.

So, in the spirit of that idea, here are 10 ways to tame that wandering mind of yours and turn it into a laser-focused brain that gets things done.

1. Find Your Totem

Remember the totem in the movie, Inception? It’s an item that reminded people they weren’t in a dream when they touched it, and it was able to keep them grounded in reality.

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You can replicate this idea when it comes to staying focused as well. All you’ve to got to do is find something to be your “focus totem,” and it’ll remind you that you should stop daydreaming and get back to work. Ideally, it’s something you can see and touch.

In the movie, a chess piece and a spinning top were used—both are good ideas. You could also use a picture of your family, a mini trophy, or even wear a ring to focus your mind as well. (In fact, a green lantern ring might be kind of cool for this.)

2. Promise a Reward

Incentives are an obvious way to go. Having gold at the end of any journey makes you want to press forward just for the sweet results. In general, rewards should correlate to the difficulty/length of the work.

For example:

  • Finish a quick house chore = a piece of chocolate
  • Complete an annoying administrative task = 10 minutes of Youtube
  • A successful day of work = a whole movie on Netflix

Pretty simple stuff, right? But you’d be surprised how often you forget to reward yourself for doing solid work on the regular.

3. Make It Stupid Easy for Your Wandering Mind

I don’t know about you, but if I perceive my work to require more effort than I care to use, I’m instantly turned off. This then leads to distraction and procrastination. But you can offset this by breaking a difficult task into a bite-sized piece.

Case in point, what seems easier: 30 pushups or 3 pushups?

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It’s obvious, but sometimes our brains need to be “convinced” we’re only doing a small amount of work to get things going.

But here’s something cool about this tactic: You can (and most likely will) keep going past your stupid easy benchmark. You don’t have to, but my experience tells me once you get going like this, it’s easy to go beyond your bare minimum goal.

4. Empty Your Mind With Journaling

Sometimes, there’s too much stuff floating around in your brain that is making your mind wander. In that case, it can help to spill everything in your head onto a journal to free up some space. You can use a pen and pad for this or something digital like Evernote.

There are two basic ways to go about it:

  1. Freestyle – where you just write whatever randomly flows through your brain without thinking or pausing. This is great if you’ve got a million different ideas racing through your brain.
  2. Focused – where you create prompts or an outline to streamline your thinking and you just respond to the questions or format. This is best when you want to grasp a certain topic.

5. Use the “Just 5 Minutes” Method

Try telling yourself that you’ll work for “just 5 minutes” and then you can stop. You’ll find that the task feels far easier to handle. And like the “stupid easy” method, this tricks your brain into thinking the task is lower effort than it really is. After all, 5 minutes for even the worst task is psychologically manageable for any person out there.

The key is to honestly allow yourself to stop at 5 minutes—no matter what. That’s what allows your brain to accept the method as legit and also lets it overcome the mental hurdle that makes your brain want to wander around and focus on anything but your task.

6. Recite a Focus Mantra

I like to think of mantras as a totem you can take with you anywhere you go. They serve the same purpose—reminding you to stay focused—but can be done anywhere and anytime.

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I find the most powerful type of mantra to be based on reality. I learned this approach from Dr. Jon Fader—a performance coach who was on “Good Morning America”—and his book Life as Sport: What Top Athletes Can Teach You about How to Win in Life. He calls this “objective optimism.”

Basically, you create a mantra that’s based on personal success in your life. That way, the mantra isn’t just a fluffy positivity statement, there’s also the weight of real-life success giving it power

Some examples:

  • If you’re struggling to make yourself go to the gym but have technically been there many times already, you could say, “just another day of heading to the gym—easy.”
  • If you’re suffering from impostor-syndrome after accepting a promotion, just say, “I’m here for a reason” to remind yourself that your efforts were recognized by others and are the real deal.
  • If you’re nervous about an upcoming sports competition but have trained diligently for it, you could say, “I’ve done all the work possible” to remind yourself that your earlier efforts have created the best version of you for the event.

As you can see, the most powerful mantras are evidence-based and positive. So, just find proof of relevant success in your life and transform it into a motivating mantra.

7. Use the “Multi-Yawn” Approach

One of the best ways to be distracted is to be tired. And sometimes, you’ll be tired in such a way that you’re “sort of” working but not realize that you’re actually constantly distracted.

If you can notice when you do this, one thing I like to do is crank out as many big, satisfying yawns as possible. Olympic athletes sometimes do this before their big events. It calms them down and helps them perform better in the process. And it works just as well for us regular folks. I find it has a similar effect to taking a good nap (and actually works best in unison), so you can imagine how effective this can be.

8. Find an Easy Win

Nothing feels good like winning. So, it can help to find a few simple tasks you can do with little effort and just get them done immediately. This will create momentum and propel your productivity forward. The feeling of success will lock your focus in on the task at hand and refocus your wandering mind. Use this when you feel “resistance” to getting your work started.

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9. Create a “Wins” List

Feeling like a capable person who can win at life is motivating in and of itself. In light of this fact, it can help to have an ongoing “wins” list to prove you’re an able person.

Just keep track of all your daily wins—big and small. And whenever your focus starts to wane, give that list a peek and remind yourself that you’re more capable than you realize.

10. Add Stakes to the Mix

If you were to lose $20 if you failed to complete a task, would you be more focused on completing it? Of course!

Try and find ways to put something on the line when it comes to completing your tasks, and you’ll find your focus, motivation, and ability to things done to be higher than ever before.

For example, if you’re at work, you could involve a co-worker by saying you’ll buy their food if you don’t complete a task before lunchtime rolls around. At home, you could say you’ll also mow the lawn if you don’t remember to wash the dishes before the day is over. Or you could just use something like Beeminder or TaskRatchet, which actually charges you cash for failing to complete a task or goal on time. (It’s scary but effective)

All are viable methods, so just give one of them a shot.

Who Else Wants More Success?

Of the many methods of winning at life out there, focusing is definitely a top-three contender. You can’t get anything you want in life if you don’t buckle down and get your work done—a wandering mind won’t create success.

But with these 10 focus tips, you’ll be ahead of the competition and be closer to a fitter body, higher income, and a flat-out better life than before.

More Tips on Sharpening Your Focus

Featured photo credit: Clay Banks via unsplash.com

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