The Mindful Path to Improved Productivity

Breaking that cycle of worry, feeling overwhelmed, and “kvetching” about work is possible with just a little focus now and then. A little intentional mindfulness can go a long way towards gaining improved productivity says David Gelles, author of Mindful Work: How Meditation is Changing Business from the Inside Out.

In Corporation’s Newest Productivity Hack: Meditation, Atlantic business writer Joe Pinsker shares his own experience with mindfulness as he talks to Gelles about how businesses are embracing practices that are rooted in Eastern religions in the workplace. Pinsker wonders “why mindfulness programs are sprouting up and what happens when you expose a practice unconcerned with materialism to the forces of capitalism.”

Gelles admits meditation and similar practices may have been scoffed at when first raised in the workplace a few decades ago. Today, he believes “mindfulness is being accepted in the workplace today because we need it more than ever, it seems.”

The impact of technology has sent both employers and employees to new tools for stress manager. “We are so bombarded with constant information overload,” Gelles told The Atlantic.  “We are so addicted to our technology that the promise of a technique that allows us to come back to the present moment and stop obsessing about whatever it we just read in our Twitter stream or what we’re about to post on our Facebook page has a unique and enduring allure that is totally understandable.”

While nonprofit workers revel in juggling many projects, Gelles reminds that “multitasking is a myth” as “we rarely, if ever, can actually do two things at the same time.”

So, if we are so busy, how can we find time for mindfulness and meditation? Well, just take a deep breathe and check out these tips for a more mindful approach every day.

Yes, just taking a few breathes to refocus and close out instructions for even a few minutes can be revitalizing and help to relieve stress.

  1. Remember that you have time to do this. If you have time to look at your smart phone, social media, or do the crossword puzzle with your coffee, then you have time to clear your mind.
  2. Be present. Focus your attention on some routine or mundane task, like sipping your coffee, placing labels on envelopes, or waiting for the elevator.
  3. Accept things as they are. Take a deep breathe and as you exhale let go of what you know you can’t change. Energy spent on concern about what you can’t change is energy wasted.
  4. Meditate for whatever moments you have to pause before making a decision (like firing off an email retort or making an expenditure commitment). Also find ways to trigger need for a mindful pause; you can learn to anticipate when you will need that pause amid your work. Meditation can take as long as you have.
  5. Start the day with reflection instead of diving into email and work. The few minutes you spent in peace and quiet before your full day can pay off through your improved focus.

Sure, mindfulness requires a little work. Its benefits are ones only you can give. Less stress, improved health, a calmer attitude at work, and, yes, even inner peace. These are your own rewards.

For other ways nonprofit pros shared on how to focus and avoid burnout, read 10 Tips to Avoid Nonprofit Burnout.

About the Author: Yvonne Hudson has been writing and editing content for TST since our roll-out in 2013. She is principal of New Place Collaborations, which provides marketing and communications consultation and projects for nonprofits and businesses. Yvonne is passionate about creating mission-driven solutions for nonprofit clients. As a nonprofit staff member, board member, and volunteer, she has participated in aspects of capacity-building including programming, fundraising, and board and audience development.