Mindlab: Productivity v Busyness

I am so busy….i don’t know if I found some rope or lost my horse…? 

Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen an exponential growth in the number of peer-reviewed journal papers about mindfulness. Scientists all over the world have been examining the effectiveness of mindfulness in various contexts, including the workplace, healthcare and education.

With the British Government backing an initiative to bring Mindfulness into Schools in the UK and there being a Mindfulness group within the House’s of Parliament, should we in Guernsey be contemplating exploring workplace mindfulness.

Companies are now recognizing that it’s not great for the employees to be so stressed out that their health falters, and so distractible that they are unable to concentrate. Companies are now looking for ways in which they can support their employee’s wellbeing both emotionally and physically. They are finding the answers within Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way to what is arising in the moment, aware of emotions, feelings, sensations with a non-judging attitude.


How will this help business?

Practicinoffice-BIGg mindfulness develops several beneficial qualities a few of them being reduced stress, increased focus and compassion for ourselves and others. The practice helps us become less stressed, in part, by helping us to understand what we can and cannot change. As we start to observe our breath and body, we begin to understand that some things are just out of our control. We can’t stop the rain from falling, but we can control the way it affects us, that is, our relationship to being rained on. With time we start to recognize just how often our minds are assessing the situations around us and within us, and how we pass judgement, which can often lead to making ourselves unhappy. We start to realize that stress isn’t caused by what is happening; it is caused by how we respond to it, and this can determine how happy we are in any given moment.

Through the practice of mindfulness we can hone our concentration powers, train our minds to remain stable and even-tempered for long stretches of time. Just as lifting weights in the gym strengthens muscle, meditation and moment to moment awareness strengthens our minds.

Through training our minds we are able to develop stable, one pointed concentration.

Stable attention, for many reasons, is an immensely valuable skill to have. The increased ability to anchor our mind in the present can free us from many thoughts and fantasies that so often distract us from the task at hand. Think of how much more productive we would be, if we could attend to tasks with sustained attention and clarity.

The more skilledcavemen-WEB we become at watching our thoughts and emotions, the more aware we become of the inner workings of our minds. Each time we notice that we are lost in thought we are able to place some distance between the voices in our head and the notion of us having to react to each one, with the belief they are all ‘true’.

With practice we become less directed by our fleeting thoughts and more committed to sustainable happiness.

Mindfulness makes us more attuned to those around us. Through practice we start to realize that just like us, everyone else is grappling with large and small dissatisfactions and anxieties, with this knowledge and understanding we naturally become more empathetic. We becomes sensitive of our own feelings and emotions, and those of others. Our skills improve in sensing when a colleague may be troubled, becoming less reactive and unlikely to snap back at someone at the first sign of conflict or threat. Sharon Salzberg, a teacher and author who has been practicing mindfulness for 40 years said

“With mindfulness, we relate to each other and ourselves differently.”

This is important because if we are honest we all have judgments and bias notions towards the character of others – and we tend to communicate and relate to ourselves and each other with those bias perspectives and attitudes. Even at home. Eventually others begin to fit our self-made opinions of them as we seek out this bias attitude in their behaviour, which in turn justifies our behaviour towards them. And around it goes.

Research remains nascent; it seems that sitting still, focusing our attention, bringing moment-to-moment awareness to our daily life is making us healthier, happier and kinder. The question is, is this enough of a business case for workplace mindfulness?

Peter Drucker stated:

…maladaptive behaviour could be traced to an event ‘inside’ the worker, which then affects outward performance.

Why is this important and why should the management care about such things?

It is obvious to see that a company’s capacity to grow and maximize productivity is deeply influenced by the workers’ inner states – their inner landscape. So helping workers to tune into their inner being and cultivate optimal states of clarity and functioning becomes, we could say, the responsibility of management, but also, the workforce individuals themselves.

Tools like Mindfulness assist the workforce, at whatever level, to manage themselves and improve individual performance, which inevitably leads to greater performance and productivity for the entire company. The beauty is that the struggle no longer becomes about the work-life balance, but one of making choices, which inevitably leads to ‘balance’ being the way you want it to be.

CW_Course_WebsiteImageOur latest workshop is an Introduction to Workplace Mindfulness – ‘More Business less Busy-ness’ taking place June 24th 10-12pm is a great opportunity to investigate the science that billion dollar companies are now taking up. Go to events for more details and to book your place.