Boost Productivity With This Mindfulness Hack (And Enjoy More Sanity)
Who doesn’t want more productivity at work? CEOs and line managers want it, and as a small business owner myself, I know I’m always looking for better and faster ways of doing things. The practice that changed my work life — and even improved my personal life? Meditation for five minutes or less!
Seriously. Five minutes or less spent on a quick meditation helps me find my center when I get stressed, focus on a touchy email that I have to write, or feel refreshed when that mid-afternoon slump hits as it invariably does!
But HOW do you do it? Try these tips to work meditation into your work day, boost productivity, and relieve stress.
Close your office door (if possible) or put your headphones on
While not every office is conducive to taking a meditation break, most are. For a time, I worked in a shared office for three people, but because the entire workspace was designed with lots of open space, we had phone booths that I could duck into for a quick five or ten-minute break and no one was the wiser.
In the same office, most people wore headphones. When I wanted to Zen out for a bit, I’d use my headphones without playing any music, relax my gaze, and enjoy a couple minutes of silent meditation and no one was the wiser.
Try a free app, like Insight Timer, that you can keep on your phone and listen to on the go.
Modify the meditation to fit your needs today
Sometimes, I want to tune into my body for a few minutes — this is especially helpful if you’re practicing mindful eating and someone brought fresh donuts into the office kitchen! Sometimes, a guided meditation works better for me. Don’t be afraid to mix up your quick meditation to support you throughout the day.
I love Buddhify for quick meditations. You can select one depending on your mood and many take ten minutes or less to complete. Especially if you’re using your headphones to tune out the rest of the world, it’s a great solution for meditation on the go.
Get a little creative
Think outside the box when it comes to working meditation into your work day. You can always meditate in your car before running out to grab a sandwich for lunch, but why not try a walking meditation? If you’ve got a little green space around your office, get outdoors and get moving.
This walking meditation is one of my favorites!
Benefits of meditating throughout the day
So why meditate at work? First of all, it gives your brain a break. We rely on the prefrontal cortex for executive functioning and creativity — it’s the part of the brain that our compassion and understanding also resides. Unfortunately, compared to the limbic system, the prefrontal cortex is the diva of the brain and it needs rest and plenty of TLC.
When you’ve finished up a difficult task, give yourself a brain break or indulge in a few minutes of meditation to reset.
Ever have to meet with a client or coworker who seems to think getting on your nerves is the ultimate form of entertainment? Meditate before meeting with them! You’ll be more grounded, and hopeful they won’t bother you as much.
Try one (or more) of the following meditations to help you ground, center, and de-stress even at the office!
Two-minute tune-in meditation
Use this meditation to release tension in your body and tune into what it needs without leaving your desk.
Take a moment to close your eyes or allow your gaze to relax and become unfocused (if you can’t close your eyes).
Draw a breath in slowly and release it slowly. See if you can extend each inhale and exhale with each cycle of your breath.
Notice how that breath moves your body — your rib cage expands, your belly rises and falls, your shoulders may even move with the breath.
Notice how your body feels in the moment. Is there any tension?
Allow your face to relax. Relax your jaw, drop your shoulders away from your ears a bit if you can.
What might you be able to do right now to release any tension? Perhaps you breathe through it, imagining sending healing energy to your tense shoulders or neck.
Take a few more moments for yourself and simply sit with your breath. Notice how it’s happening here and now, that this moment is for you.
When you’re ready, open your eyes or refocus your eyes and return to your day!
Quick body scan meditation
Use this meditation to bring yourself back to the present moment, clear your thoughts, and feel more centered.
Either with your eyes closed or with your gaze unfocused (look down toward your nose to do this), take two or three deep breaths and notice how those breaths affect your body.
How does your belly rise and fall with the cycle of your breath? What’s happening in your rib cage as your lungs expand and release with the flow of air? Do you notice your breath anywhere else in the body?
And as you draw another breath in and then release it, you might notice your body beginning to relax against the chair .
First, take a moment to notice your feet. How do they feel as they touch the floor? Are they heavy? Are they warm? Are the relaxed?
Moving up your legs, notice your ankles and your calf muscles. Do you notice a heaviness here? How do they feel against the chair?
Shifting your awareness up once again, what might you notice about your knees and your thighs? How do they feel? Can you coax them into releasing tension? Can they make more contact with the floor?
Still breathing, move your attention to your hips and your torso. Take a deep breath in and notice how this part of your body feels. If you feel any tension here, allow it to soften. Stay with your core for as long as you’d like.
Next, shift your awareness to your hands. Do you feel tension here? If so, allow it to release with your next exhale. Notice how they feel against your body, the ground, or the chair.
Moving your attention up to your arms, notice how your arms feel. Are they tight or do they feel relaxed? Is there a weight to your arms and your shoulders?
Next, shifting your attention to your chest, right above your heart, what do you feel here? Do you notice this part moving with each breath? Perhaps it feels light. If it feels heavy, gently tell this part of your body it’s ok to release tension, to release stress.
Moving up, shift your awareness to your neck. How does it feel in this space? If there’s tension here, allow it to go on your next exhale.
Moving up to your jaw, where many of us hold tension, notice how this part of your body feels. Allow it to soften and maybe even allow your mouth to fall open gently.
Finally, shifting your awareness to the rest of your head, what do you find here? Notice how it feels in relation to the rest of your body.
As you continue to breathe, take a moment to become aware of your entire body, just in the best way possible. What do you notice? How do you feel?
When you’re ready, gently come out of the meditation by opening your eyes or refocusing them. Get up and walk around for a minute or so to reset yourself before continuing with the rest of your day.
Five-minute communication visualization meditation
Turn to this meditation when you have to prep for dealing with a difficult client, you’re about to present in a big meeting, or anytime you want to feel better about a personal/work interaction.
Again, with this meditation, you can practice with your eyes closed or with your gaze relaxed and unfocused if closing your eyes is awkward in the office.
Begin by breathing in and breathing out, gently, without thought. Just noticing that breath. Maybe imagining that as you breathe in and breathe out, you breathe in love, breathe out stress. Breathe in compassion, breathe out frustration. Breathe in peacefulness, breathe out anger. In and out.
Breathing in, perhaps you imagine that breath running the length of your body. Maybe that breath draws love into your body, running along your spine. Centering you. Grounding you. In this moment.
What might you notice about your body as you breathe in and out? How does it bring stillness to your body? Maybe you notice that the ground below you holds you in this grounded, centered, safe space.
Safe. In control. Centered.
To begin, let’s imagine what it might be like to have a conversation with someone in your life. Perhaps you take a moment to paint that picture in your mind. What does the room look like?
Is there furniture there?
Is it a neutral space, like a bright green field full of wildflowers gently swaying in the breeze?
Is it somewhere familiar?
What do you do here in this space, communicating with this person? Do you smile? Do you hold their hand? Do they smile in return? Do they speak from the heart with compassion? Do you speak from the heart with love and understanding?
What might that look like?
What might that feel like? Is it warm and safe? Is it soft like a well-loved blanket?
What if you could communicate from this space every time you encounter this person? How might your conversations change for the better if you were to hold this space for this person?
Breathing in compassion, breathing out understanding. Breathing in love, breathing out kindness. Breathing in with this person, breathing out with this person, sharing, meeting each other with love and understanding.
Breathing in, maybe noticing one thing about this meditation to carry in your heart when you speak with this person. Breathing out, releasing, opening.
Breathing in once more and on the exhale, bringing small movements back to your fingers and toes. Maybe rolling your neck gently to wake the body up. And when you’re ready, you may end your meditation.
Meditating at work could bring you more focus and could also help improve your relationship with coworkers. Because, let’s face it, if you feel good, you make others feel good too.