My son Liam can tinker with his Star Wars Legos for hours—constructing towers, makeshift vehicles, and other-worldly structures only to tear them down and start again, all with the concentration of a true Jedi.
As Liam plays, he’s truly in the moment. But according to a Harvard study, we spend 47% of our time thinking about something other than what we are doing.
Gill Hasson, author of Mindfulness, says, “Mind wandering becomes a problem when you are ruing the past, or worrying about the future.” So how can we harness our thoughts—especially at work where it’s easy to get distracted—to be the most efficient and engaged version of ourselves?
Mindfulness, or being present without judging your thoughts or feelings, helps you feel grounded and calm when faced with any type of situation. Through mindfulness, you’re more open to new ideas and ways of doing things both in life and in your career.
According to Hasson, practicing mindfulness can enhance the following aspects of work:
Considering that every corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes, of which only 4 to 6 applicants are called in for an interview, preparing for the big day is nerve-wracking. What questions will the interviewer ask? What’s the company culture like? Where do I see myself in five years?
First, let go of past interviews that may not have gone in your favor and prepare for the one at hand. Research your potential employer’s markets, services, and biggest competitors. Read over your application to anticipate potential questions. Lay out your (wrinkle-free) outfit the night before.
During the interview, wait until the interviewer is finished speaking before you answer. Hasson advises, “If you need a minute to think, say so. If you are uncertain what the interviewer is asking, say so.” This thoughtful approach shows that you are confident enough to ask for clarification instead of firing off answers that miss the mark.
Fear of public speaking is the most common phobia, second only to the fear of dying. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that 73% of the population suffers from “presentation anxiety.”
First, rehearse your presentation in front of a mirror and then for a friend or colleague and ask for honest feedback. A few minutes before, do some simple breathing exercises to center yourself. Once you get started, use PowerPoint™ slides as guides for your audience to make it a more organic interaction (don’t read from or memorize a script).
Remember, being mindful is to be “in the moment,” so don’t rush your presentation—speak slowly, pause after main points, and repeat back audience questions to make sure you give adequate answers.
Most employees attend 62 meetings each month, and half of them are considered a waste of time. When asked, 92% of workers admit to multi-tasking during a meeting, prompting companies like HubSpot to replace sit-down meetings with 10-minute “stand ups” to keep everyone focused and alert.
A few minutes before a meeting, breathe to clear your mind of your never-ending to-do list. Write down your remaining tasks on a piece of paper and set it aside for later.
If the conversation starts to veer off-topic during the meeting, jot down issues to be addressed at another time. Also, pay attention to fellow attendees’ body language. If anyone looks confused, take a second to clarify the main points. If you feel uncertain about something, paraphrase what you’ve heard and ask for confirmation.
Most importantly, don’t let meetings drag on and wrap things up with actionable to-do items so that everyone is on the same page and aware of next steps.
How do you practice mindfulness at work? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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