To get some tips on managing workloads, we invited a leading mindfulness coach, Louise Chester, to West Sussex for a 90-minute presentation and workshop.
Louise, founder and managing director of Mindfulness at Work, is a former investment analyst and fund manager who has introduced mind training to over 100,000 people in more than 200 organisations. She began the session by explaining how her stressful City career had been transformed by practising mindfulness, a concept she was introduced to over twenty years ago.
She then went on to outline the pressures facing today's typical employee. The tendency to multi-task is actually counter-productive, with information overload causing our minds to wander. Research shows that our thoughts get side-tracked an astonishing 46.9% of the time, and we find it increasingly difficult to focus on single tasks.
To illustrate the point, Louise asked us to close our eyes and concentrate on just one object, raising a hand when our attention wandered. Much as we wished for super powers of concentration, after a few seconds there were plenty of hands in the air!
Training the 'attention muscle' is the path to increase our concentration and, ultimately, our success at work, said Louise. She advised us to take one task at a time, trying wherever possible to complete it before moving on to the next job on the to-do list. Taking momentary performance breaks throughout the day, even if just for a few seconds to reboot by focusing on posture and breathing, can massively reduce stress levels and combat tension in the body.
Louise's insights along with her practical exercises on prioritisation, presence and sustaining focus were fascinating and inspiring, and we're all agreed that mindfulness has a lot to offer. With more 'Om' and less 'Oy!', we're set to work even smarter than before. Thank you, Louise, for sharing your expertise!
To find out more about mindfulness at work, Louise recommends reading One Second Ahead by Rasmus Hougaard.