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Distraction in the Workplace – Understanding and Managing

Ever had your mind wander at the worst of times?

Picture this scenario: you’re sitting in a meeting with an important client. There is a lot resting on this meeting. You’ve put in a huge amount of work in and now you’re on the verge of sealing an important contract. You need to convince your client to agree to your suggestion.

This is your chance. You have just put forward your thoroughly-prepared suggestion and now you are waiting for their response. They start speaking. You notice their lips move and their facial expression change. You feel hopeful. You think about how your boss would be impressed with a positive outcome. You think about the bonus and the holidays.

Then you start to think about your first meeting like this, and how amateur you were. You remember your boss’ response to your failure to close the deal, and you begin to imagine what might happen to your future if this deal does not go through.

Suddenly, you become aware that you’re still in the meeting with the client, several minutes have passed and you have not taken in a word they have said. Why is that? Distraction, plain and simple.

Workplace Mindfulness Teaching is way to teach, train and focus the mind. You can sculpt a course that specifically focuses on distraction. 

Everyone Relates to This

We can all relate to distraction. We like to daydream, to fantasise, to think about our past and to imagine our future. This is what our minds do. The problem is, distraction gets in the way of our work. It leads to us missing out on important concerns our client is telling us. We end up having to stay late or miss deadlines because we spent half the day worrying about our relationship. We pounce on every email, conversation or Facebook notification, drawing us away from the task we had set out to do.

When I teach mindfulness, students are often keen to tell me they have a very active mind. I tell them, we all have active minds! That’s what minds do. Our minds are like thought machines, churning one thought out after another – sometimes random, sometimes connected. The problem arises when we, understandably, get carried away with a thought.
Can we manage our thoughts rather than they manage us?
Thoughts can be very alluring, whether positive or negative. Our minds have the magnificent tendency to create stories out of these thoughts. However, very often these stories are repetitive and are actually doing us no good. In the scenario outlined at the start of this article, it’s very likely that the person has run over those thoughts dozens if not hundreds of times. The point is that thinking is not always helpful. Thoughts can distract us from what we are setting out to do. When we think too much about the future, we get caught up in anxiety. Too much thinking about the past lowers our mood. This in turn makes us more easily distracted.

Modern life has more distractions than ever before. We are constantly bombarded by advertising, emails, messages and social media notifications. The digital age is not conducive to being calm and focused. It’s little wonder we get so distracted. We are encouraged to be “always on”, to be constantly available to work colleagues, family and friends. The good news is, there is a solution. One that which is simple but requires persistence. This is where mindfulness comes in.

 

Although some people are more prone to distraction than others (think of your scatty colleague/friend/neighbour who seems to live on their own planet!), we can all be distracted. The good news is that anyone can learn to be mindful. Mindfulness is not, as commonly believed, about emptying the mind of thoughts. It’s not possible to empty the mind of thoughts, no more than it’s possible to empty the sky of clouds.

 

What mindfulness teaches us to do is to harness the power of the mind, so that we focus on what we want to focus on, rather than being led down the ever-tempting garden path of distraction. Through mindfulness, we will still have thoughts. The difference is that we learn not to be led by our thoughts. We learn to be the masters of our own minds.

Now, who does not want to be the master of their mind?

Author: RTG Mindfulness Teacher – Brian.