How the power of doing less can help you achieve more
In today’s world, some see having a packed schedule as a status symbol, busyness as a badge of honour and an exhaustive to-do list is shared with pride. However, there is a growing number of people who reject these notions that they once saw as measures of success. Instead people are embracing stillness, saying ‘no’ to over scheduling and rejecting lists. Who are these people – Zen masters? People who live in the middle of nowhere? Possibly, but there are also everyday people like you and me who have experienced a different way of being, that brings focus, clarity and a purpose to everything they do. These people have found mindfulness… In fact 18 million people alone subscribe to the Headspace app, practising mindfulness meditations through their headphones so there must be something in this…
Before the sceptics roll their eyes, this does not have to mean candles, chanting or sitting on a cushion, but having the ability to quieten your mind, focus on your breathing and be in the moment. Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it”. (Sharon Salzberg a mindfulness teacher and author who founded the Insight Meditation Society). It comes in many forms, it could be taking a walk without your phone (you will survive!), taking a few deep breaths before a meeting, or actually taking the time to stop and enjoy a cup of tea.
“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it”
So why is it important to embrace mindfulness? Having the ability to be present and to stay focused intentionally is a skill, which in this hectic world is fading and is needed more than ever. “The overarching practice of letting go is also one of gaining resilience and insight.”(Sharon Salzberg). Mindfulness Research has shown many positive benefits of following a practice such as improvements in task commitment, and enjoyment of work (Hyland et al., 2015). Organisations with mindful teams are better equipped to compete in today’s ever-changing environment.
Wellbeing has now become a mainstream topic with many companies developing policies, strategies and focusing on this issue. It is common to find offices with quiet spaces and wellness rooms and even running exercise classes to increase physical wellbeing.
One example is the established at Google in 2007 and based on neuroscience, Search Inside Yourself (SIY) was created to help people develop the skills of mindfulness, empathy, compassion, and overall emotional intelligence to create the conditions for individual and collective thriving. My employer also supports a program of mindfulness. and it is “surprising how much free time and productivity you gai when you lose the busyness in your mind.” Brittany Burgunder, Author and Life Coach
I attended SIY in 2018 when mindfulness was not really in popular culture. It was an amazing experience and really changed the way I live my life. The tools we were taught such as Mindful Walking and Three Breaths, are easily incorporated into every day routines without the need to add ‘mindfulness’ to your to-do list. They allow your brain time to stop, and think without distraction. I find after a mindful walk, (which I do each morning), I have more mental clarity and focus. I have my best ideas during these times and when I don’t walk, I notice that I am less effective until I stop and revisit my mindfulness practise.
I am also proud to lead ‘The minute to arrive’ at the start of our weekly team meeting. It is a very simple technique of taking deep breaths through a one minute guided session. With lots of back to back meetings, it helps us all leave behind what they were doing and focus. It is a delightful minute of stillness and you can feel a sense of calm as we step into the meeting.
So, my challenge to you is to think about how you can do less, where can you find that moment of stillness in your day? Mindfulness is personal and you have to find what suits you, but surely the lure of being able to step back for a moment, to then lean in and actually achieve more is something that you have just got to try?..
Sarah Hawkins, is a Customer Engagement Director at SAP SuccessFactors. She is a Accountability Coach and Mentor and strives to help people be the best version of themselves.