Health & Wellness / You’ve Got To Slow Down! How Taking A Mindful Pause Can Increase Productivity

You’ve Got To Slow Down! How Taking A Mindful Pause Can Increase Productivity

Health & Wellness Nov 28, 2018

When it comes to this Holiday season we always seemed so surprised how quickly it creeps up on us. Which usually sparks the conversation on how fast time is flying. Do you ever feel like you’re speeding through the day with a “go-go-go” mentality? Is it healthier and more productive for us to switch to a “stop-stop-stop” mindset? We’ve got tips on how taking a mindful pause can increase productivity. 

“Time is money” an expression that many of us have heard that fuels us to approach work, school, play and sometimes even relationships feeling pressured to complete as much as we can as fast as we can. But is time really the most valuable thing we have? While on retreat with Sivananda (an international organization which offers a modern approach to traditional Indian yogic philosophies), a suggestion shared by Deepak Chopra (rooted in his studies around neuroscience) was to switch to a mindful awareness that it’s not our time, but our focused attention that is most valuable.

To help put this in context, reflect on an occasion during which you felt bored; didn’t time seem to trickle by? It’s because your attention was not being held. Now think of the opposite occasion; in which you were absorbed in a task and felt surprised at how much time had gone by. It’s not time that’s most important it’s how we dispense our attention during that time.

Why can it be hard to focus our attention?

We are constantly over-stimulated. The average human encounters 11 million bits of stimuli per second (yes you read correctly, per second) but generally only processes 40 bits. What does this mean? Our brain is working extremely rapidly at a conscious and subconscious level to filter information. We have become accustomed to being “busy” and have set unrealistic (and unhealthy) expectations on how much we should accomplish. This can lead us to complete tasks on automatic pilot and/or without our full, focused attention.

 

How Taking A Mindful Pause Can Increase Productivity
How Taking A Mindful Pause Can Increase Productivity: Stop acting like a robot, you can not do it all at once!  Photo Credit: http://blog.careesma.in

 

How does moving too fast impact our attention?

Not only can moving rapidly lead us to feel overwhelmed, it can split our attention which may impact the quality of what we are trying to achieve; it takes more time to go back and fix an error then it does to slow down from the get-go, give the task focused attention it requires and prevent the error in the first place.

What can we do to help focus our attention?

Start by slowing down; take a pause at several points in your day to help notice when you are distracted and/or if you are taking on too much. In the book Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less, written by Marc Lesser, former CEO and Co-founder of the Google Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, the impact that slowing down (taking a pause) can have on overall well-being and productivity is explained.

How can taking a pause impact our productivity?

It increases our awareness on how our attention is being dispensed which has an important on our success in completing tasks. For example, when we eat lunch in a hurry while working, we are also more likely to make a mistake as our brain can get distracted and/or tired from shifting back and fourth between the task and bites of food. Add that to the increased likelihood that we will overeat because we are not stopping to check-in to notice when we get full, it becomes obvious it’s in our best interest to pause, eat our food, take a few deep breathes and then get back to work.

Still not convinced you should pause? Ever hit send on a text or email that you wish you hadn’t? Taking a pause during stress or conflict helps us move from being less reactive and more reflective (which can end up preventing us from having to put attention into explanations, apologies and/or recovering from hurt feelings ourselves).

 

How Taking A Mindful Pause Can Increase Productivity
How Taking A Mindful Pause Can Increase Productivity: Pausing brings attention to where you are mentally.  Photo Credit: http://www.mindfulnesscoach.com

 

How can you getting used to taking a pause? 

Try this simple, two-mindful moment PAUSE practice:

  • Stop what you’re doing.
  • Take 3-5 deep breathes.
  • Check-in with your body; what physical sensations are you feeling?
  • Check-in with your mind; what thoughts and emotions are you experiencing?
  • Practice non-judgment, the PAUSE is about noticing where you are; it’s not about correcting anything, it’s simply to increase awareness on your physical, emotional and mental state.

 

Main Image Photo Creditt: http://remarkablespeakersbureau.com

Rachna Sethi

Rachna Sethi

Author

Rachna (@mindfullyyours)is a graduate of the Applied Mindfulness Meditation program from the University of Toronto, a certified Educator with two bachelor degrees and a diploma in Art Therapy. She's dedicated to living with a compassionate approach. Committed to helping people integrate Mindfulness...

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