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Chilling out: How meditation is the path to productivity


Laura Stack* says that while the modern workplace often leaves little time for meditation, it is nevertheless an important component of personal productivity.


 

Some workers believe the best way to maximise productivity is to stay busy all the time.

Of course you need to stay focused, even driven, at times.

However I would hope any regular reader of this blog would have realised by now that truly effective productivity involves more than just busy-work.

Rest and reflection are also crucial components.

I don’t necessarily believe slow and steady wins the race (how many tortoises can really beat a hare in a footrace?), but just like quantity, hard work has a quality of its own.

It’s when you tweak hard work with smart work – and never doubt you require both – that you win the productivity race.

We all know that running around like Chicken Little accomplishes well, little.

Sometimes, to induce effective productivity, you have no choice but to stop, drop everything a bit, and settle your heart, mind, and emotions.

One way many workers do this – including the chief executives of major corporations – is by using the ancient art of meditation.

I’m not talking yoga here; meditation is simply a way to centre yourself, grounding your emotions and flightiness.

This can prepare you to do excellent, meaningful work benefitting everyone in your chain of production, from your ultimate superior to your downstream users.

Let’s look at six ways meditating just a few minutes a day can enhance productivity.

It encourages serenity:

The whole point of standard meditation is to exercise emotional control, calm yourself, and shed your worries.

Anything that helps centre you and view your life and work from a more energetic, less worried standpoint is obviously of benefit.

It relaxes you:

Meditating takes you ‘offline’, even for just a few minutes, while you literally seek to think of nothing.

Inevitably, you’ll relax if you do it right.

If you can divest yourself of your worries, you can reduce your stress, which has always been hyped as a big benefit of meditating.

If nothing else, this alone makes meditation worth the time and effort.

The stress-relief may be temporary, but it also keeps your stress from building to excessive levels.

Meanwhile, decision-making and creative batteries can recharge.

It encourages mindfulness:

When you’re mindful, you pay fuller attention to everything in your environment in the current moment, so you’re more conscious of what’s occurring.

This is especially useful for meetings, presentations, evaluations and research.

It strengthens the self-reflection habit:

Not all forms of meditation require you to blank your mind.

Instead, you can use it to think deeply about your day, week, month, or year, and the things you’ve learned during that time.

Your conscious mind can integrate what you’ve learned with what your subconscious already knows.

Some practitioners claim that even if you do classic meditation and try to clear your mind, the practice benefits self-reflection.

It sharpens your focus:

Data from the American Psychological Association shows that people trained to sharpen their mindfulness through meditation typically increase their performance at selected tasks.

This makes sense; when you’re more mindful as you learn, you’re more likely to focus on what you’re learning, and pay closer attention.

It improves your memory:

The same studies mentioned above suggest meditation improves memory, another non-surprise if you think about it.

Whatever you pay closest attention to, you remember the best.

Having meditation in your business toolkit is so beneficial in terms of peak performance that you might wonder how you ever did without it.

Modern business often doesn’t support calm, reflective performance, but you still require such behaviour in order to do your job well and benefit yourself and your organisation.

 

* Laura Stack is a keynote speaker, author and authority on productivity and performance. She has written seven books, the latest being Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time. She can be contacted at theproductivitypro.com.

This article first appeared on Laura’s blogsite.