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How to reduce tension and boost productivity


Making time for meditation can help to boost your productivity as well as reduce the stress of running a small business, says Tom Evans

The normal human mind can experience only one thought at a time. So if we mull over the past or fret about the future, we lose focus on what we should be working on and our efficiency drops accordingly. The practice of mindfulness meditation teaches us not so much how to have no thoughts at all but how to form a new relationship with our thoughts.

So while many people turn to meditation to help reduce stress or anxiety, there is a more practical incentive to start meditating each day. The time we invest comes back to us many times over as we become more creative, more productive, sharper, and generally luckier and happier in life and in business. What’s more, many free or inexpensive meditations and meditation apps are available. So if you have a smartphone, you already have access to a ‘guru’ in your pocket.

Here are some practical tips to help you reap the benefits of mindfulness meditation.

Break bad habits

If you are starting a new practice, it is a win-win if you can stop something else you don’t like doing at the same time. So, first thing in the morning, instead of checking emails or social media, still use your phone or tablet but listen to a guided meditation or some ambient music instead. If you happen to be awake in the middle of the night, you can use a meditation to get back to sleep, too.

Inspirational breath

Many meditations use the breath as a point of focus. This is because when we think of something other than what we were previously thinking about, the original thought tends to fade away. As we all have to breathe anyway, this is a good thing. Our breath does more than keep us alive, though. The neurons in our brain need oxygen to function, and deep breathing puts more oxygen into our blood. Without it, neurons degenerate and die. Our breath is literally our source of inspiration.

Creative sleeping

What better way to get more things done than to use our sleeping time to be creative? Without a good night’s sleep, our efficiency will drop the next day. A great way to ensure you slumber well is to meditate before going to sleep. If there is something troubling you in business, just write down a question on a scrap of paper and put it under your pillow before retiring. You will either dream the answer or awaken with it the next day.

Get in the zone

Once you have meditated every morning for one or two weeks, you will find it easier to maintain the meditative state with your eyes open. When you do this, two things happen. Firstly, time takes on an ethereal quality, and you will discover you get your tasks done within the time you have available. Secondly, you become better able to maintain your focus as you reduce interruptions from your ‘monkey mind’, which tends to wander off of its own accord.

Get lucky

After only a few weeks of regular meditation, you will find you get more done with less time. At the same time, as your mind is less busy, you become better at noticing signs, serendipities and coincidences around you. Such opportunities are always there but can bypass a self-absorbed mind. In essence, you become luckier and find that you only have to think of something you could do with one day and it seems to turn up, like magic, the next day.

Tom Evans is a mindfulness trainer and author of The Authority Guide to Practical Mindfulness.