November 8, 2016

Practicing Mindfulness

Shared by Designer, Shawney Anderson

3 minutes: How frequently the average office worker is interrupted or distracted

23 minutes: How long it takes to return to a task after being interrupted

8: Average number of windows open on a worker’s computer at the same time

30: Average number of times per hour office workers check their email inbox

50%: Error rate as a result of multitasking

Is any of this as alarming to you as it is for me? Something needs to change. Over the course of six weeks, I challenged myself to take thirty minutes a day to allow myself to step into the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the exercise of identifying when our attention and focus has been drawn away, or been distributed among many tasks and helps you redirect and analyze your thoughts. “Neuroimaging shows that even as little as 30 minutes of mindfulness a day for eight weeks can physiologically change the brain. While making and strengthening connections in our brains…”(Steelcase 360 Think Better, pg. 18)

Being mindful isn’t easy unless you have goals and plans set in place. Here are some daily activities I tried and could help you in setting up a mindfulness routine.

  • Disconnect. Turn off emails. Disable pop-ups. Switch phone into “do not disturb”. Place mobile devices out of touch (and out of mind) for a period of time.
  • Get up from your desk. Pick a spot away from your normal workstation. Allow yourself to work or read in a comfortable lounge chair, or set up camp at a local coffee shop. Switch it up.
  • Get moving. Be active. Take a walk around the block or respond to emails at a walk station. Stand to work part of the day vs. sitting.
  • Listen to music. Find something soothing. Or upbeat. Whatever inspires you to focus and recharge.
  • Eat, drink, and be merry. Hunger and dehydration can keep some people from being able to function at full capacity. Take a break and find a healthy snack to boost your brain.

When we take the time to free ourselves from the stress, expectations, and frustrations of the world, we provide our brains the opportunity to get into flow. While in flow, “we’re absorbed and engaged in what we’re trying to accomplish. Unlike stress, which releases chemicals associated with over-arousal and fear, flow is a highly pleasurable and highly productive sate.” (Steelcase 360 Think Better, pg.16) 

During my six week experiment I found it very difficult to train myself to take thirty minutes each day to practice mindfulness. It was really easy to keep putting it off, and several days it didn’t happen at all. However, when I took the time at the beginning of the day to practice mindfulness I loved the results – I found that I was extremely focused, checked more items off my to-do list, and had an all-around more positive outlook on the day and projects on my plate. My next step towards a more balanced and mindful day is to schedule thirty minutes in the morning just for myself and practice creating boundaries for that time. I’m hopeful to turn this into a new routine!

I challenge you to empower yourself to identify and establish daily mindfulness routines in your own life; it could change the way you think, feel, and operate. For more information and insights on this topic, please take time to check out the following resources:

“Think Better”Steelcase 360
“Beyond The Brain” – Louise Barrett
“Brain Rules” – John Medina
“Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence” – Daniel Goleman dis
“The Organized Mind” – Daniel Levitin
“Your Brain at Work” – David Rock