Another good idea to implement during the day is mindful working. Now, I can hear you say “yeah yeah yeah…, have heard about that, not my cup of tea…”. I have even heard from some of you who have been lucky enough to get some mindfulness sessions at work that it is all fine and good in the session, quite enjoyable actually, but that you do not have a clue what to do with it back at your desk. Now, mindful working and mindful living generally are just one small aspect of what we teach in Sophrology but for us it is really all about how to make it work in a practical way.
So here are a few very practical ideas to try at work (and elsewhere!):
- As often as you can, do only one thing at a time. “How on earth am I supposed to do that?!” I can hear you ask, when at work interruptions happen every few seconds. But in those (rare) moments when you can focus on your work, stay with it, do not reach for the mobile phone, do not jump from one task to another, do not have several windows opened at the same time on your computer, etc. We can take up to 20 minutes to refocus on what we were doing when interrupted. No need to say, your performance is not at its best then. We are an attention-deficit society and it is affecting our brains. So when it is up to you, do not add to the outside distractions. What about asking a colleague to manage your phone for one hour while you focus on something big, in exchange for the same service to her later on? Research shows that we accomplish more and better when we do one thing after another and not several at the same time. If you are struggling with this, you could start with something really simple, for instance focusing on your feet on the floor as you are walking across the office, instead of thinking about the meeting coming next or the file you were working on earlier. Or be fully in a manual task you have to accomplish: at work it could be the pile of photocopies (thinking about something else is not allowed!) and at home you could start when you cook or wash the dishes. Mindfully washing the dishes, now, that’s a thought!
- At any moment during the day or when you find it hard to focus, bring your attention to your breathing. It is not about changing it or judging it (“should I be breathing like this or that?”). It is about noticing and following the outbreath and inbreath, just as they are happening. You can do that while working or even in a meeting, nobody will notice! And it will keep you focused until the end!
- Do not rush into things. Rather counter-intuitively, doing what you have to do in a calm manner will help you finish more quickly because ideas will flow better and you are less likely to make mistakes.
- If you work at a desk, remember to move from time to time: take a short walk, stretch, have a drink of water (mindfully drinking your tea is a good one!).
Of course the ultimate aim is to be mindful 100% of the time, mindfully working, eating, walking etc. But until you get there, slowly does it, one little thing at a time. And take time to enjoy the difference!