Even for those who like their jobs, heading into the office is rarely the highlight of anyone’s week. Between the meetings, the office politics, and the mindless tasks that seem to take forever, the workweek often feels like a blur by the time it’s through. Worse yet, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the proportion of workers spending more than 40 hours a week at work has risen over the past 40 years, meaning we’re spending more time at the office, and having less fun every minute we spend there.
However, just because we’re working longer than ever doesn’t mean we’re getting more effective at our jobs. For many of us, digital distractions and mindlessness cost us countless hours at the office, reducing our productivity and making us less happy along the way. Fortunately, the solution is simple: by implementing just a few mindfulness practices at work, you’ll accomplish all those tasks on your to-do list and be happier for it. And when you’re ready to boost your brainpower, this is The Single Best Exercise For Your Brain!
Sit On an Exercise Ball
Instead of simply slumping into your office chair for yet another day, using an exercise ball can help you be more mindful of your posture and your breathing while helping you focus on the task at hand. In fact, research published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy suggests that using exercise balls in lieu of traditional chairs can increase both productivity and attention. And when you need a more high-intensity burn, turn to the 5 Luxury Exercise Classes Everyone Needs to Try.
Participate in Active Listening
If you’ve ever sat through an hour-long meeting only to discover that you haven’t retained any of it, you’re not alone. In the workplace in particular, many of us are guilty of listening passively, rather than actively. A little mindfulness in the way of active listening—that is, focusing on what the speaker is saying and giving them your full attention, taking notes if need be, and repeating broader concepts while adding your own thoughts afterward—can go a long way when it comes to retaining information and making your colleagues feel heard. And when you want to make every day a little brighter, start with the 50 Genius Tricks to Improve Your Life!
Power Down Your Phone
We get it: Your phone feels like an appendage at this point. Research even suggests that our addiction to our phones could actually be changing our brains. However, if you want to work more effectively and be more mindful, it’s time to put it down.
In fact, one study reveals that workers are 26 percent more productive when they’re not attached to their phone. So, if you want to be more mindful at work, put the phone down, preferably out of sight. If you can’t bear to be away from it all day, give yourself some digital breaks at designated times. And when you want to get happier in seconds, try out the 25 Best Instant Mood Boosters!
Do Some Deep Breathing
Want to enjoy greater focus, creativity, and clarity throughout the workday? The answer may be as simple as taking a few deep breaths. In fact, research published in the Journal of Neurophysiology reveals that deep breathing can actually change the way your mind functions, actually allowing you to activate new parts of your brain. Start with engaging in deep-breathing exercises for just two minutes every hour. (Or go to the bathroom, if you’re worried about distracting your colleagues.)
Sit upright, stare ahead, and take deep breaths in followed by slow exhales in which you imagine your tension leaving your body through your breath. And for more amazing mindfulness tips, here are 10 Ways to Focus Better During Meditation.
Plan Out Your Day
You probably wouldn’t drive somewhere new without looking up directions, so why are you going into your day without a roadmap? Planning your day with specific amounts of time assigned to each item on your to-do list can help you remain more mindful and focus on the task at hand.
Snap a Rubber Band
An office supply you probably have within reach could be the key toward more mindful thinking. Many therapists recommend snapping a rubber band any time unwanted thoughts start to enter your mind as a means of being more mindful throughout the day. Whenever your mind starts to wander, this small act can help you get back on track.
Turn Off Your Computer Whenever Possible
While computers are essential to virtually every workplace, having them on even when you’re not actively using them may be hindering your productivity. In fact, researchers at McMaster University and York University found that laptop multitasking hindered both productivity and concentration among students. To make yourself more mindful at work, turn your computer off when you’re talking to colleagues, in meetings, or taking a break. And when you want to distance yourself from your devices, check out the 11 Easy Ways to Conquer Your Smartphone Addiction!
Take a Lunch Break
While it may feel like taking a break is counterproductive when you’re trying to get things done, doing so may actually help you be more mindful in the long run. According to research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, brief breaks actually significantly improve focus, and better yet, paying attention to what you’re eating may even reduce your overall caloric intake. And when you want to make your whole body healthier, add the 50 Best Foods for Your Brain into your meal plan!
Follow Your Body’s Food Cues
Your mindfulness practice shouldn’t end just because you’re on your lunch hour. In addition to limiting digital distractions and stepping away from your desk, paying attention to when you actually get full instead of simply finishing whatever’s in front of you can help you lose those last 10 pounds and develop a healthier relationship with food.
Take Scheduled Time-Outs
Your lunch break shouldn’t be the only time you step away from your desk during the day. Taking a few minutes to stand up, stretch, or take some deep breaths on an hourly basis can help you get your head in the game, making you more mindful when you return to work.
In fact, research even suggests that prolonged concentration on a single task may actually impair our reasoning ability. So, go ahead and give yourself that well-deserved break from time to time.
Tackle a Single Task at a Time
You may feel like you’re getting more done when you multitask, but odds are, you aren’t. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, multitasking can reduce our productivity by as much as 40 percent, clearly making us less mindful in the long-run, too.
Journal Your Distractions
Feeling distracted at work? Try writing about it. By compartmentalizing the things that are impeding your productivity and focus and physically putting those distractions away, you can help center yourself and return to the task at hand.
And Write Down Your Goals
When you’re trying to achieve bigger goals at work, being mindful can make all the difference. And better yet, all it takes is writing them down to increase your chances of success. In fact, research conducted at Dominical University of California reveals that writing down goals significantly increased study participants’ chances of achieving them.
Say Thank You
Mindfulness in the workplace isn’t all about being more productive on an individual level. Saying “thank you” can go a long way when it comes to improving your relationships with your co-workers. In fact, researchers at the Wharton School found that using the phrase “thank you” significantly increased recipients’ feelings of self-worth. In fact, it will boost your mood by 25 percent!
Do Some Minute-Long Meditations
Just because you don’t have time for an hour-long meditation class doesn’t mean you can’t be more mindful at work. Even if you just have a minute at a time, you can do some guided one-minute meditations that can make you more mindful and help you focus. Researchers at Gannon College even found that meditation improved job satisfaction and interpersonal relationships in the workplace.
Daydream With Purpose
If you’ve ever noticed that you have your most brilliant ideas while your mind is wandering, you’re not alone. Letting yourself daydream at certain times can actually increase your focus when you return to your work, and can even boost your creativity, too, according to research published in Psychological Science.
Stand Up a Few Times an Hour
Simply changing your physical position can help you be more mindful at work. Instead of sitting in your office chair all day, set reminders on your phone to stand a few times an hour. In fact, research conducted at Texas A&M University reveals students engaged more with their tasks when standing versus sitting, meaning getting vertical might just help you focus, too.
Respond to Your Emails Immediately
There are few things that can take our mind off what we’re trying to accomplish like having an overflowing inbox. To maintain your focus, respond to emails as soon as possible and leave the office with an empty inbox at the end of the day.
Put Limits On Your Time Outside the Office
The key to more mindfulness in the workplace? Setting limits on your time outside the office. Turning off notifications for your work email, leaving your laptop at work, or simply telling yourself you won’t respond to work requests during certain hours can increase your productivity, focus, and commitment to the job when you’re actually there.
That stale coffee and fluorescent lighting in your office can only capture your attention for so long before you long to be anywhere else. If you’re looking to be more mindful and motivated at work, make sure you get outside whenever possible. In fact, researchers at the University of Michigan have found that getting outdoors can significantly increase focus and memory retention. And when you want more energy for your next walk outside, start with the 25 Non-Coffee Ways to Boost Your Energy Levels!
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