4 Mindfulness Hacks to Help you Focus

The concept of mindfulness, or focussing your awareness on the ‘here and now’, is becoming increasingly popular among productivity seekers as a means of improving focus.

Ciara Conlon, The Productivity Coach, sums up mindfulness nicely in this article for LifeHacker.org

“The practice of mindfulness teaches us to become aware of our thoughts and the present moment. It is a habit we need to nurture because our natural tendency is to stray from the here and how to tomorrow, next week or next month. When we practice mindfulness we keep calling back our wandering mind to rest on the current moment.”

While greater mindfulness is typically achieved through meditation, there are plenty of other ways to reach the state.

Here are 4 mindfulness hacks you can practise in the office to help you become more focused…

1. Hourly Check-Ins

Author of Linkedin in 30 Minutes, Melanie Pinola, recommends taking a few minutes every hour to “check in” on yourself.

“The idea is simple: Pause regularly throughout the day and notice what’s happening in your mind and body… These quick check-ins and pauses may help you become more attuned to everything around you—and keep calm even in a pressure-filled workplace.”

Pinola suggests tying your hourly check-ins with hourly desk stretches to double the benefit.

2. Breathe

The importance of proper breathing is often overlooked and focusing on breathing properly is one of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce stress and help you focus.

In this article for PsychCentral, author of The Mindful Manifesto, Ed Halliwell, recommends practicing mindful breathing at work for between 2 and 30 minutes when you can…

“[Mindful breathing is] Not thinking about the breath so much as feeling its texture, riding its waves a bit like you might ride a wave on the ocean…You don’t have to shut out other parts of your experience, [such as] thoughts, emotions, body sensations, sounds. Just let them be there in the background as you attend gently to the breath.”

3. Meditate while doing other things

You don’t have to drop everything to meditate.

Dr Mike Brooks of the Austin Psychology & Assessment Centre recommends meditating while going about your day to day life by choosing something to focus your awareness on. For example, when out for a walk, you could focus your awareness on the sound of birds singing, when running you could focus on the ground beneath your feet and when driving you could try to focus all of your awareness onto the road, without letting your thoughts drift.

According to Brooks, these ‘mini meditations’ could even be more effective in the long run than longer, formal meditations…

“Instead of sitting down to meditate in a more formal manner, we can just weave mini (and many!) meditations throughout the day. These can last from just a few seconds to a few minutes and can ultimately provide some of the benefits of longer meditations and, perhaps, could yield superior benefits because they are part of our lifestyle. Similarly, a physically active lifestyle may yield superior health benefits to a mostly sedentary lifestyle with periodic trips to the gym.”

4. 15 Minute Mind Capture

When you’ve got a spare 15 minutes why not try productivity guru, Chris Bailey’s 15 minute mind capture exercise? Bailey recommends setting a timer for 15 minutes and sitting down with nothing but a pen, paper and your thoughts. Spend 15 minutes emptying your mind of all your ideas, concerns, to dos and anything else that you’ve been thinking about…

“Our minds are often an arcade of thoughts that we don’t get the chance to step back and observe. When we force ourselves to step back for 15 minutes with nothing more than a notepad and a pen, the thoughts bouncing around in our minds have no choice but to defragment and organize themselves while the best ones bubble to the surface.”

How do you gather your thoughts and become more mindful at work? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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