Mindfulness At Work

For most people, an average work week consumes between 40 to 50 hours.

That’s a big chunk of life on the job. We can all agree that spending that much time in a role you aren’t fond of can hurt. Though you may not be able to easily change the job or industry you work in, you can start to observe and even change how you think at work.

Have you ever noticed the power of your thoughts to change how you feel throughout the day?

Repeating the same negative thoughts over and over in your head can leave you feeling a bit blue. Just as positive ones can cause you to feel more motivated. This makes sense. After all, it’s been scientifically proven that our thoughts can greatly influence our brain on a neurological level.

Our days are full of thoughts. They race back and forth in our brains as we interact with our environments and process our days. Though there isn’t any “hard evidence”—thoughts are hard to quantify, as you can imagine—some online sources state that people can experience 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts in one day. It’s not hard to believe, especially if you sit in silence for even a few moments.

That’s a lot of thinking.

Considering a good portion of these thoughts occur at work, let’s take a look at a few constructive (helpful) and destructive (harmful) ones you may experience.

Constructive Thought Processes

Reflective: You may find yourself day-dreaming about what’s for dinner or your weekend plans. Though this isn’t technically “productive” in terms of the task on hand, it can be a welcomed break for your brain if experienced sparingly.

Problem solving: These thoughts are the big-guns—your skills come out to play and that’s reflected in your productivity and creativity.

Destructive Thought Processes

Self-doubt: Though these are natural thoughts for people to have, second-guessing your abilities takes up important time. Self-belief can ensure that you succeed.

Judgemental: Whether it’s your co-workers, boss, or clients, judging takes up energy. It also makes it harder for you to see things from others’ perspective, so it can hinder teamwork.

If you were to tally your thoughts at work in each of the two categories, which would win?

There are some methods you can use to practice being more mindful of your thoughts at work. These include:

  • Keep a bit of paper near your computer and try and catalogue the thoughts that really stick out as they occur. Review these at the end of the day. How did you go?

  • Use a sticky notes app on your desktop. This is a quick and more private way to keep track of what comes to your mind.

  • Practice general mindfulness through a short daily meditation on your morning commute. As you strengthen your mindfulness muscles, this will spill into your work day.

  • Set reminders on your phone to pause your work and be present throughout your day. You can even journal during these breaks.

What benefits could you see?

  • You’ll get to know yourself better. Are you more of a constructive or destructive thinker at work?

  • You might find you’re more efficient at what you do as you practice not getting caught up in harmful thought processes.

  • Nurturing awareness of your thoughts can lead to clearer decision making.

  • You might feel less stressed and scatter-brained.

Give it a try. Spend a day being mindful of the type of thinking you do at work and see what you discover!