Career Advice Workplace

How to Practice Mindfulness in the Workplace

Dora Segall
By: Dora Segall
Oct 12, 2020 • 7 min read

How to Practice Mindfulness in the Workplace

Throughout the world, people have been using mindfulness to maintain a positive attitude for decades. Living in the moment is a skill that many of us could benefit from, but few have mastered it. Here are some ways that you can practice mindfulness to improve your professional life!

mindfulness printed paper near window

What is Mindfulness?

According to Psychology Today, living mindfully involves focusing on the present moment rather than the past or future. Initially, a concept used in Buddhism and Hinduism to achieve enlightenment, mindfulness has since been adopted by western society for therapeutic and spiritual practices.

Mindfulness involves full awareness of one’s internal and external situation, as well as the ability to observe that situation without judgment.

Having a mindful attitude in the workplace means you can accept the here and now, reflect on it fully, and learn from it without trying to change it. For instance, rather than dwelling on how bored you are while logging your hours or how stressed you are while preparing for a presentation, you learn to embrace the task’s monotony or challenge and its impact on your professional life. This might seem easier said than done, but we’ll go over techniques for embracing unpleasant tasks later.

person holding dandelion flower

Why is Mindfulness Important?

People who have mastered mindfulness can attain inner peace more easily in even the most challenging situations. For high-stress jobs, from law practice to retail, mindfulness is an incredibly effective way to reduce anxiety and keep your cool during especially busy weeks.

Awareness

The American Psychological Association has found that mindfulness, cultivated in their study through yoga and body awareness during daily tasks, effectively prevented depression. The reason? Mindfulness retrains the brain to recognize and correct negative thought patterns. If you botch a presentation or report, you learn to react with compassion and resilience rather than beating yourself up about it.

Enhance Your Professional Life

Perhaps most importantly, for your professional life, mindfulness is linked to better cognitive functioning. This includes your focus and processing skills. Basically, working mindfully helps you to think more clearly.

Using Mindfulness at Work

There are several ways to change up your daily work routine to foster mindfulness. A good first step is identifying areas that need work. You can probably figure these out pretty quickly. What tasks do you find frustrating? When are you zoning out? Pinpointing these aspects of your routine will help you modify and improve them. Here are some specific ideas for addressing your weak spots.

woman in black shirt and gray pants sitting on brown wooden bench

To-do Lists for Focus

Do you find that your attention wanders or that you tend to jump from task to task with no specific end goal? For those of us still working at home, concentrating on our work can be especially difficult. Incorporating mindfulness into your professional pursuits can help you stay on task and get things done more efficiently. If you aren’t using one already, a to-do list can be a great addition to your work life.  Whether it’s at the start of each week, day, or month, take several minutes to really think about what you want to get done and jot down a game plan to do it. Once you’ve invested the time to write down your short-term goals, you’ll find it easier to commit yourself fully to action items once you start them.

Make Boring Tasks Fun

If you need to go through emails for a couple hours or spend an afternoon filing old documents, you can add little touches to make these tasks more enjoyable. For instance, if your boss allows it, blast your favorite playlist to keep your energy going as you organizing papers. Color-code different folders or even types of documents to keep yourself visually stimulated. Incorporating things you love, like music or graphic design, into work that you don’t like as much can make what you do feel more personal. If you still feel your energy waning, you can also try switching to something more interesting for a little while. Just make sure to come back to the original task after two hours tops to prevent procrastination!

pink breathe neon sign

Create the Right Mood

The music you listen to, the clothes you wear, and so many other factors can make or break your workflow. Like to-do-lists, setting the scene for your workday is a good way of enhancing your focus and outlook. If you are working from home, check out our post to set up the perfect workspace. The aspects we go over there, including furniture, decoration, and internet speed, can affect your mood and attention during your daily grind.

Personalize Your Workplace

Don’t be afraid to personalize your workspace. Some people may find some things, like a plant in the window or desktop photo, invigorating, while others may find it distracting. You also might prefer a vibe for one specific task and a different vibe for another. Opening or closing windows, switching playlists (for instance, rap for mundane tasks like filing and instrumental for headier, more challenging tasks), and other simple acts can completely change your energy over the course of a single day. Your energy affects your attention level, so note how different small changes to your environment affect you and use that information to create the best mindset for each task.

person in blue shorts sitting on beach shore during daytime

Reflect, Reflect, Reflect

The most important aspect of mindfulness is personal reflection. Before you start something new and as you’re accomplishing it, it may help stop periodically and think about how it affects your state of mind. When you’re super busy, it can be easy to plow through your work as quickly as possible, but you’ll get much more out of it if you note how you relate to it. A journal can be great for this kind of thinking. Keep track of your physical and mental states as you work. This will help you fully understand what you like and dislike.

Make Mindful Improvements

Once you’ve pinpointed the tasks that negatively impact your mindset, you can pick apart those impacts and how you can improve them. For instance, if you hate one-on-one meetings with your boss, you might realize through journaling that the reason for this is a fear of judgment. Once you ask yourself why you are afraid of judgment, you can determine whether this is reasonable. Taking the time to evaluate our own feelings’ rationality can help us adjust our mindset in the future. This can improve our performance over time.

woman sitting on sand beside of This is My Happy Place signage

Be Present

The tips above are just a few ways to incorporate mindfulness in the workplace. You will discover other methods that are helpful to you over time! The key is noticing how your work affects your mindset and how your mindset affects your work. The more you can observe yourself in the moment, the better you become at handling challenges in the workplace.

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