The concept of mindfulness is a hot topic these days, but it's not just a trendy fad, it's a centuries-old practice rooted in Buddhist Meditation and made popular in 1979, thanks to Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program.
Plainly put, mindfulness is the practice of focusing intently on one thing at a time and being wholly present in that. As described by Greater Good, "Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the surrounding environment."
It's a hot topic in business because mindfulness greatly impacts productivity. We asked our Market Expert community how they employ mindfulness and stay productive. Learn their secrets below!
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Deborah Sweeney: Set aside a small block of time to clear your mind every day. A few months ago, I noticed that any time I took a break, I’d just wind up thinking about work I had to do, or meetings I needed to schedule, so I was always a bit frazzled. I started to set time aside to meditate and clear all the clutter in my mind (I’m a huge fan of the Omvana app!), but something as simple as a mid-day walk or a lunchtime bike ride, which forces you to focus on something other than work, is great for avoiding burnout and staying productive and mindful.
Julie Ellis: Want to be productive? Stop checking your email! Unless you are expecting something that urgent, you are wasting your time checking your email or other messages more than three times per day. Don’t turn checking your email into a nervous habit. Schedule specific times during the day when you will check your email, send replies and compose new mail.
Taylor Tomita: When I need to stay productive I like to set myself up with a Google calendar to outline what tasks need to be completed. Then I will pick out one of my favorite records to listen to and just blast through whatever tasks are at hand. I highly recommend using some sort of calendar to keep track of what needs to be done.
Jimmy Rodela: I list three of the most important things that I need to do for the day, then work on them until I get them done. I do the other things like replying to emails, prospecting for clients and networking, at the latter part of the day. The tools I use are Stayfocusd app, and a Pomodoro timer."
Aaron Kahlow: Staying mindful is the first and most important step to being fully productive. To have the awareness to know what matters most (vs doing the most), focusing with an uncluttered and grounded mind is the single most important element to productivity and greatness for that matter. Less doing. More Being. Being mindful.
Fergal Glynn: I need to be very disciplined about time management. I allocate a time budget to everything I do—from blog posts, to research papers. I'm at my most productive when I turn off all outside distractions e.g. email, chat, phone ringer.
Tom Drake: I often rely on technology to help me stay productive, whether it's using a Pomodoro timer like Strict Workflow or listening to the "focus" option in Brain.fm. Consider redecorating your office to improve productivity as well. Simply painting the walls and letting in more light can do wonders!
Cody Bollerman: I stay productive with Toggl to track my time and clients, also is free. I also believe in no more than 3 hours of internet without getting the blood flow so I typically schedule a run or at minimum will walk a couple blocks to get some Vitamin D. I find if you can remove yourself from the computer your mind will look at challenges differently and it will benefit you once your back online. Finally, the best trick I learned was to handle the most difficult tasks first thing in the morning (usually with a cup of coffee) because that is when you have the most energy.
Felix Tarcomnicu: I'm using the Pomodoro app to keep track of all my tasks and monitor the time I'm working on them. To organize the most important tasks, the Clear app for mac and iOS is great. Using these tools I can stay productive and focus and complete more things in less time.
Sherry Gray: To stay on track, I minimize distractions. One of my favorite tools is rainymood.com. I put my headphones on and listen to the rain all day. I stay organized with a pretty simple GDocs spreadsheet detailing my tasks, clients, due dates, invoices, and status. But my very best productivity tip is this: Get enough sleep!
Ricardo Casas: In order to remain productive and mindful of all that goes on in my daily life I use the greatest asset in a professional environment: PEOPLE. Sure, I have calendars, reminders and widgets, but it is when I delegate tasks to my team that I become most productive. There's only so much that I can do in the hours I work every day. Empowering team players to own a piece of my responsibilities not only alleviates my burden, but it also gives them a sense of ownership, pushing them to excel and reap the benefits of their hard work.
- I lean heavily on tools and processes to keep me on track, and have a consistent schedule everyday which includes allotted time blocks for checking emails and weekly processes (marketing, running miscellaneous business tasks) Time blocking keeps me on top of the most important activities I need to complete each day.
- I always keep my inbox empty – or as close to it as possible. I employ a system of critical, ticket, and respond. Anything critical I respond to immediately. Anything that isn’t critical I task out for myself for a specific date, inside of an open time block. Respond items I respond to when they take less than 5 minutes, or they are ticketed.
- I use Podio to automate tasks, and find it has been of real help in automatic simple, redundant tasks like generating invoices and follow-ups. This allows me to save time and spend my time more productively on activities that will drive core business goals.
Moazzam Kamran: Plan your day. Give yourself tasks to do every day and maintain a diary . At the end of each day see how much of your daily diary you managed to keep. It's that simple
Tom Treanor: Here are the three things I do to stay productive and mindful:
- Keep all potential actions, ideas, requests in one place to keep them from getting lost and to clear your mind. We use Wrike to capture all of these things as a team.
- Stay focused on the “big rocks.” You need to come back to your big priorities and make sure your actions are always supporting them. We use OKRs to stay focused on the big priorities.
- Keep an agile mindset. Even though you focus on the main priorities, be open to changes in the plan based on new inputs, data or changes in the environment.
Dipti Parmar: As soon as I come the office, I check my emails, I make a to-do-list for that particular day and try to stick to it. I also try to make sure that all tasks are completed before I call it a day.
For each task, I give myself a deadline. For tasks that need my total focus, I put on my headphones (without playing any music). Although a bit weird, it gives me some a special feeling. Besides, people think I am listing to music and rather prefer not to disturb me. In addition, I put my cell-phone upside down and a bit away from me so that blue light won’t distract me either.
In case I get stuck somewhere, I prefer to leave that particular task for the moment and take a break. Instead of sweating over it, I go out and get some fresh air. The cool breeze and a cup of hot coffee usually help me unwind my thought so that I can come back, refreshed and reenergized to sort it out. If it isn’t an urgent task, I prefer keeping it for another day. Many may call it procrastinating, but it surprisingly works for me. The same task that seemed so challenging the previous day, hardly takes time to complete the very next day. This is my little secret to stay productive and mindful.
But I also believe that you can only have a healthy mind when you have a healthy body. Eating healthy is therefore a must for me. I never skip my breakfast and prefer to keep my lunch light so that I don’t feel dizzy at work. That said, I never starve myself either. Small healthy snacks help me go through the day. And yes, 15-20 mints walk during lunch break is mandatory too. It keeps me energetic for rest of the day.