Recently I wrote a popular post called Outsmart Your Stress: The 1-Minute “Be” Practice and now it’s time to see how to make this now effect come alive in the workplace. Prior to becoming a Psychologist, I was in the corporate world leading teams of people and becoming intimate, maybe too intimate, with overwhelm and stress at work. The amount of workers today that say job stress is a major problem in their lives has doubled in the last decade. The US Department of Health reported that 70% of physical and mental complaints at work are related to stress, and stress-related claims are costing corporations over $300 billion dollars annually. An increasing amount of evidence bringing mindfulness to the workplace is pointing to the fact that it doesn’t have to be this way.
I haven’t run into a single person that doesn’t want to be happy and successful at work and life. However, in today’s accelerating business world people are constantly being told they don’t manage their time well and it’s no wonder why more and more people every day are left feeling exhausted, unfocused, unproductive, unhealthy, and burnt out.
“You need to manage your time better and learn to juggle more”, is the conventional reply to getting more things done faster. The American Psychological Association put out a report saying, the inability to focus for even 10 minutes on any one thing at a time may be costing you 20% to 40% in terms of efficiency and productivity. What more and more business leaders are finding is instead of doing more things faster, you need to learn how to prioritize your attention and do the most important things really well.
It may not be a major surprise that mindfulness has been shown to help us reduce stress and be more productive in the workplace. This is the reason companies like Google, Apple, Yahoo, Aetna, among many others have begun bringing mindfulness programs into the workplace. Recent research came in The Journal of Occupational Health, with a 12-week live online program I designed for eMindful called Mindfulness at Work™ studied to explore effects on stress.
The results: participants reported significant reduction in perceived stress levels and an positive impact on their ability to respond to stress.
So whether you’re trying to be more effective and less stressed at your current job or schooling, or more effective at finding a job because you just got laid off, attention management is the key to being effective in today’s New Business World. In other words, the issue isn’t so much time management, but attention management in work and life. When we learn how to prime our minds toward the spaces of choice in the day, the effect of that is the ability to more readily refocus our attention on what is most important, become more effective, less stressed, and perhaps surprisingly, seem to have more time.
The Email Meditation
In The Now Effect I have a chapter called Now at Work where I give many ideas about how to bring mindfulness directly into the workplace to make a positive impact.
One example is the Email Meditation:
EMAIL MEDITATION: When you’re emailing, e-mail for a certain period of time (i.e., 10, 20, or 30 minutes), and practice “See, touch, go” when your mind or behavior wanders.
See, Touch, Go is something learned earlier in the book and it simply means when your mind wanders, see where it wandered to, touch or notice the thought, and gently go back to the task at hand. Practicing “See, Touch, Go” when we’re focused on email, will strip away any of the wasted attention on self-judgment or any other distracting thoughts and get you back to the task with greater focus.
The video below is the first instructional video of many included in the book, but I wanted to share it with you to give you an experience of See, Touch, Go. Then go ahead and bring it to the tasks at work, even your email (Note: The introduction the video says, “thank you for buying The Now Effect because the reader experiences this as the first video in the book.”)
Make it a practice to notice when your mind wanders from any task you intended to pay attention to. You may even want to schedule a pop up in your calendar asking yourself “Where is my attention now?” When it pops up, take a breath and then answer the question. After you answer, redirect your attention to what is most important right now. You may do this dance over and over again. The purpose isn’t to judge yourself if you’re distracted, but just become aware of it and gently refocus your attention. This mindful focus has been proven to help you become more effective and less stressed at work.
Try it out!
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From Psych Central's website:
PsychCentral (March 2, 2009)
Shanghai American School » ‘It’s about attention management’ (March 5, 2009)
Last reviewed: 8 Mar 2012