Mindfulness is a term that has been thrown around quite a bit lately. But this isn't just another new age productivity trend, mindfulness is a proven way for both individuals and businesses to achieve their goals. Companies like Google, eBay and General Mills are even offering classes on how to be fully focused in the present.
The problem, however, is that too many workplaces are still based on the idea of multitasking -- a major productivity killer.
“Even if a company doesn’t make it part of the culture, employees and managers can substitute their multitasking habits with mindfulness in order to reduce stress and increase productivity,” says Dr. Romie Mushtaq, a neurologist and expert in mind-body medicine and mindful living. “The result that you and your colleagues will notice is that you’re sharper, more efficient and more creative.”
Mushtaq, who owns Brain Body Beauty, adds that mindfulness has been documented through medical studies to help rid people of distractions and truly live in the moment.
“Practicing mindfulness, whether it’s simply taking deep breaths, or actually meditating or doing yoga, has been shown to alter the structure and function of the brain, which is what allows us to learn, acquire new abilities, and improve memory,” she says. “Advances in neuroimaging techniques have taught us how these mindfulness-based techniques affect neuroplasticity.
Mushtaq provided the following three tips on how to practice mindfulness:
1. Allot a specific amount of time to focus on one task. For example: “For 15 minutes, I’m going to read through my emails, and then for one hour, I’m going to make my phone calls,” Mushtaq says. Many workplaces come with a constant flow of interruptions; to counteract this, Mushtaq suggests taking a few deep breaths and prioritizing what needs your attention.
2. Change your environment when you get "stuck" on a task. We often find ourselves quickly switching from one task to the next because we are suffering from writer's block or the inability to find the solution to a problem. Battle this by changing your environment, which will help to stimulate your creative senses. “That’s the time to get up, take a walk outside and look at the flowers and the birds – change what you’re seeing,” Mushtaq says. “Or turn on some relaxing music that makes you feel happy.”
3. Delegate and ask for help. Work life is demanding, and sometimes it's just too overwhelming when you have to juggle several different projects at a time. “Have compassion for yourself, and reach out for help,” Mushtaq says. “If you can assign a task to somebody else who’s capable of handling it, do so. If you need to ask a colleague to help you out, ask!”