Some days it feels like your brain is moving in slow-motion. And despite your best efforts, you find it  difficult to focus -- and even harder to accomplish your goals for the day. That can be frustrating.

Instead of a second cup of coffee, try something completely different. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

New studies show that meditation can help improve focus. One study compared meditators to a group of non-meditators of the same age and education level. MRI scans showed that the meditators were better able to quiet their brain activity and outperformed on tests requiring intense focus. Another study found that meditation can also improve your cognitive flexibility -- the ability to make a quick switch between concepts.

Because I lead a fully distributed team at Aha!, I am fortunate that I can take a quiet moment at home during my workday. But even if you work in an office environment, you can still benefit from this technique.

Before you shut down the idea, know that meditation is not an all-or-nothing proposition. You can benefit from quiet contemplation without having to chant "om" while doing a "downward dog" in your cubicle. 

In fact, with practice you can learn to meditate just about anywhere. Whether you sit outside, in a darkened room, or simply take a moment of silence at your desk to reset each morning, there is no right or wrong way to meditate. Even a few moments of quiet without any distractions can help.

So if you want to improve your focus and stay on track, here is how to start:

Choose a time

While early mornings are an excellent time to meditate, you may not be a morning person. Choose a time that works best for you and your schedule. You will be more likely to stick with meditation if you practice at the same time each day.

Claim a space

Your quiet spot can be anywhere -- a peaceful corner of your house, an empty conference room, or even your desk when everyone takes off for lunch. The important thing is to find one comfortable space that you can return to daily and not have to worry about interruptions (for a few minutes, anyways).

Set a duration

You may find it surprisingly difficult to sit still at first -- and this is normal. That is why experts suggest that you start out small with just a few minutes of meditation, and then work your way up to longer stretches of time. This approach will help seed the habit going forward.

Find a guide

To get the most out of this practice, you may want to find a guide. Luckily, there are plenty of resources available. Choose one that works best for you:

Meditation can be healthy, no matter how -- or where -- you choose to do it. With patience and practice, you can learn to rein in those wandering thoughts, reduce your stress, and become a little sharper on the job.

What techniques do you use to regain your focus at work?

Published on: Jul 25, 2016