Be Present. Be Mindful.

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.”

-Jon Kabat-Zinn

Many of us pride ourselves on being able to multi-task. We feel accomplished when we can switch gears quickly and re-focus on the next important thing, which in turn makes us feel more productive. But did you know that multi-tasking has been proven to no longer be as effective as we once thought? In a study conducted by Ohio State University, it was found that our brains actually lose data when we’re so vigorously switching from one thing to the next. And that means more room for error, an increase in burnout, and more things being forgotten.

So what is the solution? Be mindful.

Mindfulness at work doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to set time aside to meditate and find your “happy place.” In fact for most of us, it’s very difficult to do. Or simply not possible at all. But it does mean that you should be present. Focused on the current moment. On the experiences that are happening right now.

Here are a few tips to try at work:

  1. Find your mantra and repeat it every day. This is an affirmation that motivates you and inspires you to be the best version of yourself. At the beginning of every single day, think of your mantra, and say it out loud. It could be something like, “Live in the moment,” or “I am strong, and I am ready.” Whatever you decide on, make sure it resonates with you and reflects how you want to live your life…and repeat it every single day.
  2. Be a single-tasker. We know that sometimes, you can’t avoid having to multi-task. But if you think about it, you’re never really actually doing two tasks at the exact same time (unless you’re patting your head and rubbing your belly). What you’re really doing when you multi-task is switching back and forth between tasks. Instead, make a list of the things you want to accomplish, and focus on those tasks one at a time. You might be surprised at how much more you can achieve.
  3. Focus on being present. Pay attention to what is going on at this very moment. It takes time to learn this skill. Try it as you’re reading this article. Focus on the words as your eyes scan the page. Focus on how you’re feeling at the present moment. Focus on your breathing. It’s so easy to be distracted by the world around you. Don’t let your mind wander to yesterday’s meeting, or an uncomfortable conversation you have to have today. Focus on the here and now.
  4. Limit your “mad” time. I know…what on earth does that mean? It means that we all have things that upset us or frustrate us. But we can’t let it ruin our entire day. Have you noticed that some people can have ten amazing things happen in one day, but tend to focus on the one thing that went wrong? So limit your mad time. That’s right. If something makes you upset, you get 60 seconds to feel however you want to feel: mad, sad, frustrated, angry, etc. Then, you have to let it go and move on.
  5. End your day with something positive. Even if it’s a not-so-great day. Find one positive thing that happened and write it down. Write down what happened, and why it made you happy. This seems so simple, but doing this every day will train your brain to think positively, which then increases our mental strength and our ability to be mindful.

Being mindful can increase our productivity, lower our stress, and help improve memory function. With practice, you’ll be able to increase your focus and get more done. Why not give it a try?

Click here to download the printable PDF article.