In this article, we’ll explore the concept of “Mindful Productivity” and how it can help us. Numerous studies have shown that mindfulness can improve health, including sleep, chronic pain, and depression relapse prevention. It is for this reason that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) are becoming increasingly popular.
Additionally, mindfulness has scientifically-proven benefits, including improved attention and better control of stress effects on the body and mind.
It may seem counterintuitive to combine mindfulness with productivity. Many people still view mindfulness as an activity that takes place outside of work and goes on at a particular time and place.
While meditating or practising yoga can be amazing vectors for mindfulness, they aren’t the only ways to stay in touch with our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. By being mindful, you interrupt the automatic mode we often operate in daily, appreciate the little things, and observe your mental processes.
We must pay attention to the present moment – to our thoughts and feelings – by observing what’s going on inside and outside ourselves, but we don’t necessarily have to stop everything we’re doing. Practising mindfulness means being aware of the present moment rather than putting the world on hold.
In addition to managing your mental and emotional states, mindful productivity can be defined as being consciously present while doing what you are doing.
The practice of mindful productivity involves acknowledging and accepting your feelings and thoughts while engaged in work or creative endeavours. This gives us new perspectives on work, life, and the creation process; allowing us to enjoy the work and better understand ourselves. Besides helping us focus, mindful productivity can also help us notice early signs of anxiety or stress at work and deal with them more effectively.
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Principles of mindful productivity
The pace of work can be hectic, so what can you do to become more mindful? In what ways can mindfulness principles be applied at work? It is not necessary to meditate every day to experience the benefits of mindful productivity. Mindfulness strategies can be incorporated into your workday so that you can perform at your best while managing your mental health.
Here are ten mindful productivity principles:
Mindful Productivity Principle #1: Take care of the present and the future without worrying about the past.
Be careful not to get caught up in reliving past work problems or worrying about the future too much. Utilize the note day exercise to move on and focus on the present if you’re having trouble moving past an epic project failure at work.
Mindful Productivity Principle #2: Be aware of your thoughts and emotions at work.
The purpose of this is not to judge your emotional and mental state. Rather, it’s about being aware of them, accepting them, and moving on so you can get back to being productive. Each time your mind wanders, just acknowledge the thoughts and emotions and bring your attention back to the task at hand.
Mindful Productivity Principle #3: Get in the flow.
To achieve a flow state, you need to find the right balance between the challenge of the activity and your skill levels. Define your goal, cut out distractions, take a deep breath, and keep your mind fully attentive so you can stay relaxed and focused.
Mindful Productivity Principle #4: Avoid multitasking.
Humans are notoriously bad at multitasking. But few people can afford to stay focused on a single task until it’s done. Customers need to be helped, emails need to be answered. Use mindful context switching to strike a balance between productivity and responsiveness.
Mindful Productivity Principle #5: Question your procrastination.
Struggling to get motivated? Finding its roots in our biology, procrastination is the result of a constant battle in our brain between the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex. Understanding the emotions behind procrastination is essential to overcome it. Run a quick motivation clinic to analyze the reasons why you struggle to feel motivated.
Mindful Productivity Principle #6: Cultivate your curiosity.
The research found that 98% of young children get the highest possible score on the standardized creativity test. Only 2% of adults get that score. This decrease in creativity has been linked to a decrease in curiosity. To be productive and creative, make sure to balance your input and output. Observe the world, take time to learn, ask questions, and don’t take anything for granted.
Mindful Productivity Principle #7: Develop a growth mindset.
Having a growth mindset means you believe you can improve your intelligence and skills with hard work. Having a growth mindset is linked to better resilience and better long-term performance. Question your fixed mindset attitudes (“I can do math” or “She’s such a natural, I’d never be this good”) and practice the “not yet” technique (“I don’t know how to code” become “I don’t know how to code yet”).
Mindful Productivity Principle #8: Use metacognitive strategies.
Metacognition is “thinking about thinking” or “learning about learning.” Instead of blindly working away, take the time to plan, monitor, and evaluate your working and learning experiences. One of my favourite tools to increase your metacognition is Roam Research.
Mindful Productivity Principle #9: Pay attention to your work environment.
It’s easy to just come into the office—or if you work from home, to come open your laptop—and start working without questioning your work environment. Be mindful of where you work and how it affects your productivity. Is it cluttered? Noisy?
Note that none of these is negative in themselves—some people do feel more creative in messy, noisy environments. It’s all about being aware of what works for you and adapting your environment based on your findings. If you’re curious about this topic, you may want to learn about environmental psychology.
Mindful Productivity Principle #10: Take mindful breaks.
Not just getting up to grab a cup of coffee, but instead using breaks to remind yourself to be mindful of your thoughts, emotions, and environment. If you need some inspiration, I have created a Chrome extension that gives you scientifically-proven mindfulness practices you can use during your breaks at work, with links to the corresponding research papers.
Mindful Productivity FAQs
How can mindfulness increase your productivity?
Mindfulness has been shown to improve short-term memory, attention and the ability to perform complex cognitive tasks, and could also serve to reduce stress and anxiety, potentially leading to better relationships.
How do you meditate for productivity?
Here’s my method for meditation micro-dosing. I start with training-focused attention. For the first ten breaths, I count each inhales and exhale. For example, I think “one” on my first inhale, then “one” on my first exhale, then “two” on my second inhale, and so on until I get to ten without losing focus.
Does meditation make you more productive?
Meditation has been proven to not only help enhance work satisfaction but also enhance productivity and general happiness. With a host of far-reaching benefits, it can effectively aid an employee in achieving the maximum results at the workplace, both on an individual and an organizational level.
This may seem like a lot to take in, but the principles at the core of mindful productivity are fairly simple: be present, bring your full attention to your work, and be aware of your thoughts, emotions, as well as your work environment. You will be more productive, more creative, and overall will enjoy work better.
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