Mindfulness at Work

By Monica Nolasco, Ed.D.

You can read the title of this blog article in two ways.  You can read it to mean that mindfulness is activated or that you are being mindful in work tasks.  However you read this title, the important thing to know is that mindfulness makes a difference.

If you are experiencing work stress, it could be that a little mindfulness would make all the difference. Have you ever noticed that sometimes you find yourself working on what people call “autopilot”? Well, you operate on autopilot in the absence of mindfulness. If this is so, you might be missing out.

What am I missing out on, you might ask? You might be missing out on the quality of your life. My guess is that you work a 9-to-5 work shift. My guess is also, sometimes, you are trying to multi-task (say, emailing while also trying to talk to someone).  When you are on autopilot, you miss out on the uniqueness of your contribution to the world. Often, you don’t notice if or how you are breathing. You don’t notice or often ignore your thoughts; you don’t notice if your body is trying to tell you something, if it needs a scratch here or a stretch there or water to quench thirst.

One study by the American Psychological Association found that, although multitasking appears to allow you to take less time, it may actually take more time in the end and result in more mistakes. The author of that study, Meyer, concluded that “even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone's productive time”.

Mindfulness. It may be the answer to many of your questions. Mindfulness is simply noticing what you are noticing. Pay attention to what you do when you are doing it.

How about looking at the gaps in your day as places to practice mindfulness techniques? You decide when it will work for you. It can be something as simple as stopping for a few minutes after you read this article and jotting down ideas that occurred to you while reading it. You might even schedule 5 minutes tomorrow morning to review those ideas for possible implementation in the future. The act of reviewing your ideas is a mindfulness technique because comprehension is only part of the benefit of reading. Action prompted by comprehension is the more important part.

Just as you plan to be at work tomorrow, plan to be mindful as you get ready for work. You don’t have to think too much about it; simply notice your motions as you are rising from bed, dressing, eating breakfast...When you are ready, simply be grateful…and get on with it. Who’s enjoying life now?

To further explore mindfulness in your own life, consider working with a friend or a career coach who will help you focus your attention and be in the moment. A career coach who specializes in mindfulness techniques can help you develop a whole “toolbox” full of mindfulness tips and tricks that can support you in being more purposeful about bringing balance into your life. And, if this is the right time for you to make a shift in your career, mindfulness coaching can help you see more clearly the marriage of what you are good at and what you love to do. Finding this marriage will bring you happiness.

If you’d like to learn more about career development, contact me via email.

Source for this article:

“Multitasking:  Switching costs” (March 20, 2006).  American Psychological Association website.  http://www.apa.org/research/action/multitask.aspx

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