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How Mindfulness for Productivity Can Improve Your Focus

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How Mindfulness for Productivity Can Improve Your Focus

Mindfulness has become a popular and fashionable activity in recent times. The act of focused awareness on the flow of the present moment brings us into the here and now so that we are conscious of what we are doing. This is why practicing mindfulness for productivity can help us change the way we live and work.

It may seem both simple and obvious, but when we focus our awareness on our thoughts, we will find that we spend most of our day thinking about past and future events, or sitting around day dreaming rather than focusing on what matters.

Most people have a natural time perspective, and their thoughts are dominated by either past, present, or future events. What we don’t want is past or future events dominating our present experiences, or that we live too much in the present that we don’t learn from past experiences nor plan for the future. So, like most things in life, we seek balance.

The practice of mindfulness teaches us to become aware of our thoughts and the present moment. It is a habit we need to nurture because our natural tendency is to stray from the here and how to tomorrow, next week, or next month. When we practice mindfulness for productivity, we keep calling back our wandering mind to rest on the current moment.

The Benefits of Mindfulness for Productivity

Below are some of the many benefits of mindfulness for productivity and how they can improve our focus.

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Greater Focus

One of our biggest challenges to getting things done is the distraction of the mind. While we try to get the task at hand done, our mind reminds us of ten others that still need doing. We quickly check our email because our mind alerts us to the fact there may be unread emails in our inbox, and if they remain unchecked we may be missing the fact that the Earth is shortly to be demolished by an alien construction crew.

As this thought comes into our head, we then remember that our copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was lent to a friend, so maybe we should shoot over to Amazon and buy a fresh copy. Mindfulness training jumps in the way of all these distractions of the mind and says “Come back to the present moment, and get going on what needs to be done.”

More Effective Planning

At the outset, mindfulness may appear to conflict with the concept of planning, but in fact they complement each other greatly. Planning allows us to practice mindfulness for productivity by reducing the burdens that the mind needs to worry about.

If we schedule and plan all our responsibilities and duties, we have less to distract us from our daily tasks. When applying mindfulness techniques, planning can be a much more effective process, as it won’t be delayed by the disruptions of other activities and ideas.

If you already have a busy schedule and don’t know how to make the most of it, check out Lifehack’s Free Guide: 4 Step Guide to Creating More Time Out of a Busy Schedule.

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Less Stress

A lot of stress is brought about by imagining negative future scenarios. If we were to live completely in the present, we would not suffer from this stress, but the human brain has the ability to cast itself into the future, so we have to learn how to manage it in order to improve our mental health

Stressing about future scenarios that haven’t happened is a pointless habit; mindfulness can teach us how to redirect these negative and worrying thoughts back to the present moment and remind us that the future hasn’t happened[1]. Mindfulness can also help with the insomnia that often accompanies stressful situations.

Better Sleep

Whenever we lie awake at night thinking about the poor sales figures or the bills that need to be paid, we need to bring our focus back to our physical body and the fact we are lying comfortable and warm in bed and that the things that are occupying our minds have not happened yet.

When we learn mindfulness for productivity, we will slip more quickly into sleep, which will help us wake up the next morning with more energy and focus to face the day.

How to Practice Mindfulness for Productivity

Mindfulness isn’t a natural skill for many of us. Our minds wander and thoughts take over. In order to practice this, there are a few simple steps you can take.

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1. Start With Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is the first natural step toward mindfulness. When you meditate, you will learn to slow your breath, calm your thoughts, and make space for the emotions that arise. It’s not about eliminating thoughts and emotions, but instead noticing them and responding in a way that helps you stay focused and process them. 

After some weeks of practicing meditation, you will find that the present moment becomes a little sharper in your consciousness and that you begin to notice little things throughout the day that help ground you: the sound of birds in the trees outside, the chill of a breeze coming in through the window, or the softness of your socks. 

To get started with meditation, try guided meditation practices, or check out this helpful guide.

2. Tap Into Your Senses

To practice mindfulness for productivity, you should try to find moments when your mind begins to wander. This is likely to happen in the middle of a workday, in the evening after a busy day, or even in the morning when you’re feeling groggy.

In these moments, tap into your senses by noticing details of your environment. What do you hear, see, smell, taste, or feel? For example, if you’re in your office, you may hear your coworkers chatting, see your desk and papers, smell the coffee on your desk, and feel the coolness of the air conditioner. Noticing these simple details will help bring you into the present and refocus your energy.

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3. Sit Quietly

Many people try to avoid sitting in silence as often as possible, as our brains are now so accustomed to noise and other stimuli. This is precisely the reason we should make time to sit in silence. When you do this, you give your thoughts a chance to slow down, which will quiet the thoughts surrounding the past and future.

Find a quiet space where you can be alone, even if it’s only for five minutes. Sit quietly, with your eyes open or close, and just pay attention to your breathing. Let your thoughts come and go, and you’ll likely notice that they naturally get quieter the longer you sit.

The Bottom Line

Take this moment to remember that the future hasn’t happened, the past is gone, and the present is all we have and all that is guaranteed. Make sure you are part of each moment that you live and experience the gift that is the now through mindfulness for productivity.

More on Practicing Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Callum Shaw via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Ciara Conlon

Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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