The problem with trying to mix your professional time with your personal life and responsibilities is that it can often negatively impact your performance in both. Just take a look at the ‘myth of multitasking‘ and you can see the extent to which the quality of our work can drop off whenever we are not completely focused on what we are doing.
For example, a 2003 study at Loughborough University found the average person checks their email once every five minutes but then will typically take 64 seconds to resume their previous task.
When we are working from home it’s especially important to separate the two – paying special attention to the division of our space because of that direct link between our mindset and the environment we are in.
Mindfulness is extremely helpful in this circumstance, as it teaches us how to voluntarily sustain and direct our attention towards one or the other.
“Attention is perhaps our most precious commodity”, says Susan L. Smalley, professor and founder of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center.
It’s pretty obvious that the faculty of attention and the way we attend to things have a profound impact in our lives. And yet most of us are still not dedicating the proper time and effort to creating the optimal conditions for attention refinement.
It’s about time then that we started focusing on paying proper attention, and so here are three easy practices to incorporate mindfulness and attention training at home.
First Thing in the Morning, Find a Quiet Space and Meditate
This is how you are going to prime yourself to face any challenges and distractions that might come on your way with stability of mind. The key here is to do this exercise as soon as you wake up and before your senses get assaulted with various demands.
There are many meditation techniques, you just need to find one that suits you.
The app Insight Timer offers over 30,000 free guided sessions. I use personally the app Headspace and I love it.
Also a straightforward technique I share with beginners is to simply synchronize your breath with these four words:
Breath IN and silently say to yourself: I
Breath OUT and silently say to yourself: AM
Breath IN and silently say to yourself: HERE
Breath OUT and silently say to yourself: NOW
You can set a timer before you start for three minutes, then as it becomes easier you can increase the time to five, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes.
You don’t necessarily need to fold your legs to meditate. You can sit comfortably, in a posture that is at the same time alert and relaxed, and bear in mind that when training our attention, distractions are part of the process.
Plan Your Day With Intention by Journaling
Writing down your goals for the day not only helps you organise your thoughts but more importantly, it provides guidance on how you wish to consciously create your day.
By sorting out three key priorities for the day you provide a roadmap to your brain to follow. That way you will be much less likely to get diverted from dedicating time to what is really important. And when you are off track you have a reminder to get back into your winning mindset.
For 41 free tips on how to set your own journal, expand your mind and change behaviour, check out Journal Smarter.
Be Grateful That You Have a Job
Showing appreciation for your work, even if you don’t feel engaged by your day-to-day activities not only makes your day more pleasant, but it also puts things into perspective.
In times of uncertainty and financial instability valuing the incredible privilege of being able to pay your bills and put food on your plate is something that should never be taken for granted, so make sure the team feels inspired by your virtual presence and your contribution.
After you finish your work write down three things that you are thankful for, and why.
You can be short with your answers, but it’s important to be specific. For example:
I am grateful for the opportunity to write this article because it showed me I need to put into practice my own WFH advice, and I hope it will help others to have more present, productive and peaceful working away from the office as well.
In testing times, the work we do right now, more than ever, must in one way or another, bring unity and harmony to society. It’s only in thinking of how we can help each other and acting with compassion that we will be able to overcome this crisis. His Holiness The Dalai Lama reminds us that everyone counts: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room.”