Increasing Focus and Productivity

by | Stuff To Read

The Science

A 2010 study conducted by Killingsworth et al, at Harvard University, concluded that the average person’s mind wanders 47% of the time.  In addition they also found that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.  Respondents were increasingly unhappy the more their minds wandered away from a present moment experience.  Finally the Mindfulness Institute asked industry leaders about their ability to remain focused in meetings and over 70% said they had difficulty.   

Translated into dollars mind wandering is costly. A person whose salary is $50,000 per year wastes $20,000 in in lost productivity.  Check out the ROI of rolling out your own Mindfulness strategy if only to teach your employees how to become more focused on the task at hand.  

What can we do?

In today’s world distraction is everywhere and our employees and leaders are not immune.  Our always connected mobile devices are compelling us to check emails, message each other, post updates etc…, perpetually shifting our attention away from what is in front of us – our work!  We see this all the time.  Watch people walk down a street these days and increasingly you will see them glued to their devices not paying attention to what is going on around them.  This is only getting worse and not better.  GREAT NEWS is that we can do something about it.

Developing a Mindfulness culture in the workplace and teaching employees HOW to better maintain their focus and attention by a modest 10% can save a company thousands of dollars per year.

Practice Improves Focus

There are many studies which demonstrate that Mindfulness meditation exercises can improve our ability to focus and reduce mind wandering.  Sustained focus is concentration.  Judson Brewer and colleagues studied the Default Mode Network of our brain.  This is a network of regions that are engaged every time we “do nothing”.  It’s the network responsible for self-referential thinking and mind wandering.  Researchers studied novice and experienced meditators and compared the activity of this region while meditating.  They found that experienced meditators had less activity in this network and this seems to indicate they have an increased ability to prevent their minds from wandering.  Brewer and his colleagues also studied the connectivity pathways between the executive centers of the brain (the pre-frontal cortex) which is responsible for our cognitive functioning and the emotional centers (limbic system and amygdala) and they found that there was increased connectivity in the experienced meditators.  This seems to indicate an increased ability to regulate one’s own emotions through cognition.

Both findings together indicate that with Mindfulness meditation training we can learn and train the brain to maintain focus/concentration in our everyday lives as well as when we are in a potentially distracting emotional state of mind.

Encouraging employees to practice breath meditations and insight meditation practices will help increase their skills of concentration and emotional regulation.  Check out our Ultimate Guide to Rolling our Your Mindfulness Strategy.

Let us help you roll out a Mindfulness strategy to help increase your overall productivity.  Check out our online Mindfulness based Professional Development programs.  They are cost effective and easy to roll out.