I need to remember that email. And the schedule change. I need to update the website to reflect the last adjustments. Get a mailing list up and running. Where am I at with my values? How am I going to make inbound work properly?
Wait. What was I even doing?
Our minds are naturally associative. They’re experts at jumping from thought to thought, like a happy hare on its merry way. For many solopreneurs and business owners, this is a substantial cause of stress. It makes work seem overwhelming, with tasks big and small blending together and creating a gigantic, dark landscape of blurred lines.
This is why mindfulness is such an exceptionally powerful – and important – tool when you’re running a business.
Whether you’re working on a presentation for a client, a LinkedIn post, doing your calendar scheduling or answering your emails, mindfulness, at its core, boils down to being present in whichever activity you’re doing. Allowing your mind the space it needs to focus on that task, from start to finish.
If you often find yourself half-finishing whatever you’re working on because you remembered something you had to do, you might benefit from implementing some tricks to stay mindful and concentrated. One aspect of this is letting go of wanting to be in control of everything you feel you need to be on top of all the time. This is actually also the reason we struggle with doing it.
You feel an immense sense of responsibility towards your business. Choosing to focus on just one thing at a time may be experienced as abandoning parts of it.
In reality, being present just means focusing all your attention on the task at hand. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to do all those other things, too. It just means that you’re creating a headspace where you are able to put the whole aside as you focus on your individual work tasks one by one.
There are always things we wouldn’t mind not doing. We just have to be brave enough to find someone else to actually do them for us.
When we’re unconcentrated, it’s usually because we have a lot on our minds. In fact, we’re not unconcentrated at all; we’re just trying to concentrate on far too many things at once. This tends to happen when we construct importance. We equate every single work task to another, and we end up feeling like everything is equally important.
Mindfulness helps you concentrate on the things that matter – and recognise that even if you have a lot on your plate, you can’t chew it all at once. If you really think about it, the world isn’t going to end if you make that client wait till tomorrow. Your entire social network won’t fall apart if you forget to respond to an Instagram comment.
Don’t forget to ask yourself this: What’s really important?
For some, it’s building an incredible, successful, profitable business – sure, we all want that. But for the vast majority, the answer to that question will be about a happy mind, a comfortable home, good relationships with the people that matter to us. Mindfulness is also about taking the time to grant yourself perspective when it feels like the pile of work grows faster than you can get through it.
Mindfulness at work
So what does mindfulness actually look like in practice? How do you create that space for reflection and focus in the midst of the high-pressure, top-speed reality solopreneurs find themselves in on a weekly basis? First off, it’s about doing an audit of what makes you focus, and what makes you lose that focus.
Take a moment to feel your stress, anxiety or worry, wherever it manifests in your body. What’s causing it?
Let your mind loose on an associative journey, and make note of the stops it jumps to. Are they financial? Workload-related? Work task-related? Position-related? Goals-related? Are they about work-life balance? Getting the next client? Financing the next push?
Whatever they are, the things that poke at our stress are the most tell-tale of where the stress is actually rooted. And when you know what these things are, you can also recognise them as they pop up throughout the day – and deal with them in a mindful manner.
The second thing to consider is how long a short mindfulness exercise takes you, versus the speed you lose when you are unconcentrated and stressed or worried. Many people will say that they don’t have time for two minutes of breathing. And yet their entire day is only halfway there, because they cannot find the calm to give their work the full attention it needs.
If it helps, leave out 15 mins of scheduled time in your day for mindful moments – that gives you 3 x 5 minutes, or 15 x 1.
Finally, learn to recognise the signs that your stress, anxiety, concentration or focus are spinning out of control. These may be physical or psychological manifestations. Just as with the stress roots, learning what these are will be the first step to a more mindful workday.
The things I do to practice mindfulness at work:
- I meditate every morning, before my workday begins.
- I schedule in time for lunch in my calendar, every day.
- I keep only the tabs relating to the work task I’m doing at any given time open
- I put my phone on Do Not Disturb/Silent (with the necessary exceptions in place)
- I don’t go on social media except for during slotted times
Do you have any good tips or stories about mindfulness at work? Please share them below 🙂