5 Ways Mindfulness May Increase Productivity for Your Small Business
Long associated with meditation and relaxation, the practice of mindfulness has become more mainstream in recent years. And, with studies showing that humans aren’t as good at multi-tasking as we think we are, practicing mindfulness or meditation may actually help us be more productive at work.
Ever felt scattered while having 12 browser tabs open on your laptop, while keeping up with a group text on your smartphone and answering emails as they come in? In an age of multi-tasking, mindfulness can help us be in a state of moment-to-moment awareness of our experience. So, can practicing mindfulness help your small business become more productive?
Here are five potential benefits:
1. Mindfulness may help you and your team prioritize better. Multi-tasking is really task-switching, because it’s not possible for the brain to handle two tasks simultaneously. A research study at Stanford University found that multi-tasking actually made participants less able to switch tasks effectively, likely because they were less able to filter out irrelevant distractions.1 Since not every task has the same level of importance to your small business, being able to discern what’s most important can be a critically important skill.
2. Mindfulness can help boost your working memory. Research has shown an increase in working memory among participants in an eight-week mindfulness training.2 That working memory can translate to productivity if employees are able to better recall training and other information useful for their work – and may even help them avoid accidents and injuries at work if they are better able to remember safety practices.
3. Mindfulness can help reduce stress. According to an American Psychological Association survey, 60 percent of respondents reported that work is a very or somewhat significant source of stress, second only to money matters.3 Serious health issues can arise from stress, from hypertension to cardiovascular disease. Mindfulness training, especially when practiced as a team, can help reduce anxiety and teach emotion regulation strategies to better handle difficult situations.
4. Mindfulness can help improve focus. Distractions abound in the modern office. Open office concepts can mean employees need to filter out foosball matches to focus, frequent meetings may disrupt workflow, and notifications from email, texts and other social media can make it hard to concentrate. A study that looked at how participants were able to focus found that experienced mindful meditators performed better on all measures of attention and had higher self-reported mindfulness than those with no meditation experience.4
5. Mindfulness can be a good team-building activity. Practicing mindfulness can be a great way to bring a team together, by providing a team-building activity and by teaching how to better relate to one another. Whether you invite an instructor in to lead a yoga, tai chi or qigong class, or you offer a more structured meditation training program, the team can apply what they learn to handling challenges at work, being more focused and taking time to be present.
Thinking of how to get started? Of course, any mindfulness program should be voluntary for employees. Thirty-minute sessions once or twice a week can create a space where your team can practice guided meditation and discuss how to apply it to their experiences at work. Creating a more mindful culture can have benefits for you and your team, both inside and outside of the office.
4 Moore, A. & Malinowski, P. (2009). Meditation, mindfulness and cognitive flexibility. Consciousness & Cognition, 18(1), 176-186