If you find it difficult to concentrate at work, you’re not alone. A whopping 46.9% of people struggle with wandering minds — which not only impacts their work, but negatively affects their happiness.
Fortunately, there’s a solution to straying thoughts — incorporating mindful habits into your daily routine. Mindfulness can be a huge resource to busy professionals who want to focus and get the job done. For the benefit of both your professional and personal life, here are five mindful habits to help you succeed.
1. Focus on a Single Task Only
Many professionals make the mistake of trying to multitask, but it only opens the door for the mind to wander. As you jump from task to task and back again, your brain will become jumbled and distracted by issues and lingering to-dos. Although you might feel like working on multiple tasks will get more done at once, try single-tasking instead.
As a single-tasker, you will give your mind only one thought to focus on — which will prevent your thoughts from roaming freely. You’ll end up being more productive and more satisfied at the end of the day, as well. Single-tasking has been shown to increase output and decrease your stress.
2. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Mindfulness keeps you in the present moment, but lingering worries and fears can force you to think of the past or the future instead. Perhaps you feel defeated or stressed out by your work, or maybe a personal issue is following you into the office. Either way, focusing can be a challenge.
Some employees find that keeping a gratitude journal helps them re-center and revitalize themselves while on the job. Stopping a few times each day to jot down why you’re grateful can balance your brain and make you more receptive to positive experiences.
3. Develop Your Emotional Intelligence
You might think work is all about intellectual intelligence, but emotional intelligence is just as essential to a successful career. Defined as your propensity towards positive interaction with others, emotional intelligence can enhance performance and workplace satisfaction. In fact, studies show that your EQ profoundly affects your productivity.
Both as an employee and as a colleague, connecting with others can serve you well. Your positive vibes can help guide others to achieve the same sense of wellbeing. Plus, you’ll become better at collaborating, which will help you succeed at work. Take a few moments each day to communicate with your colleagues and be attentive to others’ emotions.
3. Take Breaks
A mind in motion will remain in motion unless you give it the chance to pause. That’s why many mindful employees make a concerted effort to break every hour to reset and re-energize their minds. Breaks don’t have to be hours long — take a few minutes to refresh, and you’ll be ready to push forward for the next hour.
These pauses also allow you to pinpoint any lingering thoughts interfering with your work. You might notice an emotion or worry peeking through. You can use your break time to acknowledge and quiet the concern before pushing forward.
4. Rework Your Thoughts on Stress
Do you think of stress positively or negatively? Many people know stress can have adverse effects on their health. Some studies link stress to cancer, while others have found it damages the heart. The latter makes sense — since your heart rate spikes when you stress out, the organ must work harder.
But these negative consequences might depend on the way you think of stress. One study found those who believed stress was bad for them had a higher chance of dying than those who thought of it as a good thing.
You can rewire your brain to think of your work-related stress as a positive side effect rather than a negative one. When you start to feel your heart racing or your breathing increase, look at it as an incentive to work harder and be more creative. Think of such reactions as your body’s way of preparing for the tough work ahead. You might even mark your stress response as a reason to be grateful — your body has honed your senses to help you finish what’s in front of you.
If you feel an excessive amount of stress, however, you might be burned out. This state of mind won’t promote mindfulness. Take steps to combat stress if it gets out of control. Mindfulness works, but so does talking to someone about your stress or reworking deadlines so you’re not overwhelmed.
5. Start Slowly
Finally, you shouldn’t wake up and dive right into work — you need time to get yourself in the right mindset to tackle the day ahead. Start slowly. Grab a warm drink and savor each sip. Prepare breakfast to power you through your commute. These relaxing moments allow you to wake up and get energized. You can also tackle any worries or emotions you have at the start of the day, clearing your mind for the work ahead.
Develop Your Mindset
Mindfulness takes time to develop — but with practice, you’ll find that your mindful habits have an especially positive impact. When you incorporate one or more of these tips into your routine, you’re on your way to a clearer mind — and more success in the workplace.
About the Author
Alyssa Abel is a student life and education blogger who offers tips and advice on living your best college life. Read more of her writing on Syllabusy.