You may be noticing more news articles and blog posts on work-life balance, but that’s no surprise: technology, for all its advantages, encourages multitasking and gives us the notion we can manage more than one task at a time competently.
In fact, research shows most of us only pay attention about 47 percent of the time. Giving work or family less than half the concentration we should be giving is no recipe for success in either business or personal relationships.
Mindfulness might sound like a new age, touchy-feely concept, but it’s defined simply as ‘a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment.’
There are many benefits to mindfulness besides greater work productivity, including reduced anxiety and depression better memory, and improved focus. There are formal ways to approach achieving mindfulness – think yoga – but even simple steps daily can help you improve your concentration.
• Shut off technology. When you are working on a project, turn your iPod off. You might think music helps, but in fact, you’re expending focus listening to it that you can use to concentrate on your work. Similarly, lose the podcasts and radio while you’re driving. You might be surprised at the peace a quiet drive can bring.
• Taste your food. Too often, we grab a quick snack at our desk instead of having lunch. The evening might find us just trying to feed our families in an efficient manner. A form of mindfulness is eating slowly and thinking about how our food tastes. Savor the texture. Simply focusing on the moment can help you recharge your mental and emotional battery.
• Practice single-tasking. Even if you work slower, chances are you’ll be more accurate in your work. Keep a journal or at least make notes of what you accomplish so you can track your productivity when you focus on one thing at a time.
• Set mindful reminders. Set an alarm on your phone so once an hour or so, you can take a ‘mindful’ break, to walk outside and take deep breaths or shut your computer down for a few minutes and refocus. Associate certain behaviors or activities with mindfulness such as meal times.
• Learn the best ways to embrace stress. Stress is a part of life. Pay careful attention to your physical reactions to stress. Note if your breaking and heart rate speed up. View your stress response in a positive light as it’s actually energizing you. A small change in your attitude can do wonders.
Finally, learn to accept what you cannot change. A heightened feeling of serenity will allow you to give your clients and family your very best and for you to excel without feeling constantly overwhelmed.