Ancient practices like yoga and meditation are widely touted for their stress-relieving, life-rejuvenating powers, but did you know that meditative practices can increase your productivity as well?
Meditation might appear to have more to do with slowing down than with speeding up, but it turns out that the opportunity to slow down is just one of the traits that makes meditation a productivity booster.
Stress weighs heavily on both mind and muscles, distracting us and slowing us down. As a result, both personal and professional efforts become sluggish, slapdash or lackadaisical.
As mentioned above, meditation is a popular – and renowned – form of stress relief. Common meditative practices like mindfulness meditation and yoga provide relief from both mental and physical stress.
Even simple actions like taking 30 seconds to breathe deeply or five minutes to practice desk-yoga can go a long way towards relieving stress. You’ll only jump-start your motivation, you also gain precious time that used to be wasted on stress.
Improves Interpersonal Relationships
Interpersonal relationships are one of the largest sources of stress. We humans tend to be very self-focused, viewing every interaction through our own personal lens and assuming insight we don’t have into friends, family and coworkers’ motivations.
Even the simplest, most beginner-level meditation can help us detach from our knee-jerk thoughts and ingrained reactions. By taking a step back from our initial emotional reactions, it becomes easier to recognize the misunderstandings that we bring to a situation.
Oftentimes that misunderstanding stems from an assumption that we are the root or cause of a coworker’s action:
Bill forgot to mention my name when listing the blogging team; he must hate me.
Mary didn’t say hello to me this morning; I did something to make her mad.
Scott was late on his deadline, which affects my work; he must not want me to succeed.
It is very easy to imagine – and then accept – these me-centered interpretations. However, it’s just as likely that Bill made an honest mistake, Mary didn’t get a good night’s sleep and Scott is going through a personal crisis that is affecting his output.
Meditation helps us to let go of this kind of detrimental self-focus and insecurity, freeing us from a large source of stress and allowing us to view our coworkers in a more positive, empathetic light. This in turn reduces the amount of time we spend worrying and improves our ability to work with others towards a common goal.
Exercises and Focuses the Mind
A 2012 study conducted at the University of Washington found that meditation positively impacted job performance in a multitude of ways, from improved concentration to better multitasking.
Meditation goes a long way towards reducing the amount of time wasted on physical, mental or interpersonal stress, freeing up large amounts of previous negative, wasted time. However, meditation also helps center and direct our focus. Taking a few moments to detach from the rush of thoughts, feelings and tasks can help bring about clarity, allowing for better planning, scheduling and prioritizing.
A foundation of meditation makes it easier to recognize when your brain is slipping off-task. What’s more, once you recognize that your mind has wandered, you can then take a few moments for deep breathing or a few yoga poses in order to get your mind back on track.
At first it may seem that adding meditation to your routine will be a detriment to your productivity by adding another item to your to-do list. However, the time you spend meditating will seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of time you reclaim from negative sources like stress or interpersonal conflict.
Best of all, the more time you spend meditating, the more skilled you will become at focusing your attention, balancing your time and motivating yourself for the task at hand.