Wellness at Work: Mindfulness Over Multitasking

  • Written By:Danielle Diamond
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Technology now makes us feel like we should be doing five things at once — and getting them done immediately.

Being plugged in gives us the opportunity to work anywhere, anytime, which is awesome if you’re vacationing in Bali and need to hop on a quick conference call, but not so much when your boss texts at 11pm on a Sunday night asking you to make changes to the presentation you need to give on Monday at 9am. Technology now makes us feel like we should be doing five things at once — and getting them done immediately.

The fascinating thing that’s been proven is that it’s not how many hours you work, but the focus that you bring to the hours you’re working. Being present to the task in front of you is much more effective than multitasking and doing five things poorly.

So how do you grab that one way ticket to Presentville? Learn to consistently practice mindfulness.

One study proved that in just six-weeks, employees practicing mindfulness showed reduced work-life conflict, increased job satisfaction, and an increased ability to focus their attention.

Not convinced? Did you know that top companies such as Google, Apple, and Harpo include mindfulness training to improve employee well-being and productivity?

And their employees have found that taking a few minutes during the day to breathe, meditate, stretch, or remembering to bite their tongue before they say something they’ll regret in a meeting, are what ultimately makes life at the office less stressful and more productive.

How do you practice mindfulness at work so you don’t wind up a multitasking cautionary tale? Read on.

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Get Centered During Your Commute

More often than not, our workday starts before we even get to the office - with emails and alerts popping up on our phone. The way we start our day can have a huge effect on how present we are from that first meeting until the last.

Turn each moment into an opportunity to be present and in a positive state instead of focusing on what could possibly go wrong. If the subway is a few minutes late, don’t create an entire drama in your head about how you’re going to miss your meeting and get fired. See it for what it is - a late subway that you can’t control, then walk a little faster once you get out.

Quit Multitasking

It’s the exact opposite of being present, which is what we’re aiming for here. When our attention is present on the task at hand, we do better work. Close all the tabs on your computer, except the one you’re working on - keeping them open encourages distraction.

There’s a great app called Rescue Time, and it’s the best 10 bucks a month I spend on productivity. When you turn it on, it locks you out of whatever distracting sites keep you unfocused - I’m looking at you Facebook, Instagram, and The Real Real. It locked me out of getting a waitlisted cashmere sweater last week and I was bummed, but I basically paid for the app for the entire year by not buying the sweater, and I finished my top task for the day during that time. #Winning.

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Set an Intention for the Day

When you get to work make a list of the top three things you need to get done, and prioritize your day so you get those three things done. Then set a timer for 25 minutes at a time and work straight without getting distracted by a ring, a ding, or the smell of someone’s lunch.

Build Downtime into Your Work Day

My favorite way to do this? Eat lunch, ideally not at your desk, without consuming any form of information. We “digest” what we take in with all our senses when we eat, so watching mindless YouTube videos or scrolling through Instagram feeling jealous that you’re not on vacation like the rest of your feed isn’t healthy. Learn to feel comfortable with doing nothing but eating for at least 20 minutes and know that you’ll actually be more productive from taking a break.

Practice Gratitude

Even if you’re in a job you hate and don’t see a way out of it in the near future, think of one thing that is going well. You might not like what you do, but love your co-workers. You might not love your boss, but you make a great salary that’s sending your family on a killer beach vacation next week.

I bet you thought I was going to tell you to mediate, huh? Yes, that’s my non-negotiable daily go-to for living in the present, but I know it’s not for everyone and many people are too intimidated by even the thought of it, so I left it out - this time.

But I promise, if you put even one of these tips into your daily routine you’ll notice a huge difference in how long you can focus, how much more productive you are, and how you’re so darn present and mindful that you taste every last spice in your exotic rice bowl while you slowly chew your lunch.

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