Technology increases work productivity in many ways but it poses a distraction in others. As participants in the social media age, employees can be found staring into their smartphones, scrolling endlessly for the next notification. In fact, the average employee spends about 40 minutes a day on social media while at work, with an additional average of 23 minutes to refocus to the work task at hand. The potentially harmful byproducts from this increased social media consumption include heightened stress/anxiety, lowered self-esteem, and decreased focus. These byproducts have the potential to be a major problem for employers. While strict in-office technology policies offer immediate solution to the technology distraction, the sustainable solution lies in implementation of mindful practice throughout the office.
Mindfulness is defined as the mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment. In this focus, one calmly accepts their own feelings, thoughts, and physical awareness. Mindfulness applies to all aspects of life: at home, in public, and while at work. Employees who practice mindful working apply focus and awareness to their tasks the moment they step foot in the office. Below are tips to maintain mindfulness in the office:
1. Practice Deep Breathing
Beginning the path to mindfulness is as simple as focusing on the breath. Research shows that monitoring breathing patterns can actually change the way your mind functions. You can take two minutes out of every work hour breathing in through the nose for four seconds, filling your lungs with air, then exhaling through the mouth for four seconds.
2. Create Detailed, Daily to do Lists
When you get to the office, write out a list of your most important tasks and how much time you plan to allocate towards those tasks. A deliberately planned day will help you to maintain focus and mindful attention when your mind wonders to other thoughts or feelings.
3. Limit Multi-Tasking
Research indicates that multitasking reduces productivity by as much as 40%. Focus on one task at a time. Your work product will be better.
4. Switch Out the Office Chair
Implement a standing desk or use an exercise ball instead of the standard office chair. These office chair alternatives help reinforce a mindful conscious. You will be more aware of your breathing, posture, and increase office productivity.
5. Go Outside for Breaks
Walk around the outside of your office, eat lunch at a local park, or simply stand outdoors for a couple minutes during a break. Allowing yourself to step outside of the office increases memory retention and focus.