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Marek Struszczyk

Co-Founder ManagerUp


Focusing on the present reduces stressPeople who work long hours every day often struggle to find focus. They can slip up, lose concentration, be forgetful, and perform substantially worse over time. They tend to lack discipline and the ability to stick to single self-incentivized action over a long period of time. What’s the solution, you might ask, simple, you must first understand how to practice mindfulness to harness the power of focus.

Mindfulness is a conscious, active mental workout that helps improve your ability to think clearly and with purpose. The brain is the most powerful tool for any job, and it needs maintenance and touch-ups just like any muscle or machine. This includes dealing with emotions, stressors, and distractions that are commonplace in everyday life, whether inside or outside of a professional environment.

Mindfulness is something that is practiced. It’s a routine or set of skills that are executed to reach a repeatable conclusion of feeling mentally refreshed and capable of taking on a load of tasks again. Learning to practice mindfulness helps to put you into a renewed state where what once seemed impossible can become achievable.

How to Practice Mindfulness

How does one practice mindfulness? Like any good routine, there are exercises that strengthen the mind and relieve your core issues. Each exercise works a different part of the brain and helps to elevate focus a little at a time.

Focus on the present moment

With repetitive work, we often enter what you might call a “groove” where we operate at your station without thinking. Sure, it helps pass the time, but it doesn’t mean you’re consciously present. You don’t want to enter a state of “not thinking.” Don’t confuse this with a “flow state” where your focus is dialed up. In this state, your mind is going much faster than usual to accomplish higher-level problem-solving. Keep your mind focused on the present, what’s happening around you, where you are, and how you feel in the moment. Compartmentalize your thoughts about the past or future and focus on the present when you’re at work.

Avoid multitasking

Multitasking might sound ideal if you’re seeking higher efficiency, but just like all things that sound too good to be true, there’s more to be said of how it doesn’t work than the good it can do. When you multitask, your mind is never fully focused on one thing. Our brains aren’t geared to do that. We have one consciousness and one set of senses that all need to stay on one task at a time. People who multitask are no different. They aren’t focused on each individual task. They’re focused on coordinating them rather than doing them well. Keep your focus on one thing at a time. If you have multiple, unavoidable tasks, arrange them in a sequence of one at a time, so your focus remains on each one individually.

Refocus your mind regularly

Being mindful is all about reminding yourself to think actively. If you consistently burn out on tasks after one or two hours of work, set an alarm for an hour and then take a short break to refocus yourself. Throughout the day, you may need some passive or automated reminders to keep you thinking positively. Focus on simple things like breathing or the space between your fingers to regain focus. Then transition back to the tasks at hand. You can also practice meditation to help you focus.

Slow down

The faster you work, the more you get done, right? It’s the same philosophy as burning a candle at both ends. Twice the fire, twice as bright, and twice the heat. The problem is that it only lasts half as long. The mind can and will burn out the same way. If you work fast and as hard as possible, eventually, you slow down. But you won’t be able to speed back up again until you come to a complete stop. Mindful work requires a measured, moderate speed. Don’t work fast. Work at a pace that you can keep consistently for much longer. Frame your work around an increment other than time. Working by milestones takes the focus off how fast you can finish and how many you can complete, where speed is less of an issue than completeness.

Practice gratitude

Sometimes you can’t keep the bad thoughts out. That’s natural. Human beings are predicated on negative thinking because it keeps us abreast of all the potential threats in our vicinity. By focusing on what could go wrong, we mentally prepare ourselves to deal with it. But sometimes, that can boil over and create undue stress and anxiety. It’s hard just to say “think positive instead.” If it were that easy, people wouldn’t feel stressed. Instead, show gratitude. Engage in spiritual thankfulness or reflect on past success and the positive feelings you had and still have. Showing gratitude is a quick, simple, but sure way to enforce positive emotions.

Be grounded

Just because you’re in your own head doesn’t mean you have to concentrate exclusively on yourself. The more you think about yourself, the more you end up distracted by the past and the future, things you can’t change, and things you don’t know about yet. Ground yourself in the present by practicing and achieving humility, a humble sense of self-confidence. The more you try to push yourself up as the world’s leading character, the more that self-reflection will turn into harsh judgment. You’ll second guess your own actions and halt your own work progress. Stop that early by establishing a positive self-image focused on the present, the work you are doing, and the methods you have to do it.

How to practice mindfulness to achieve your goals at work

Knowing how to practice mindfulness can help you achieve your goals at work and make more thoughtful and meaningful progress in daily life. The methods are universal. Focusing on the present reduces stress from the unknown. Avoiding multitasking ensures that you will give tasks due attention. Taking meditation breaks helps reduce anxiety. Slowing down keeps the heart rate low and steady. Practicing gratitude and being grounded with humility make you more pleasant and approachable as a person. When you know how to practice mindfulness, you will also learn how to focus on living – and working for – a better life.


Also published on Medium.

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