Productivity is arguably one of the most read about, subjective, and at times, seemingly elusive goals of any business leader. Subjective because everyone finds their state of flow in different ways, and elusive because we typically can't just will ourselves into a state of productivity.
While 'flow' or intense productivity can be challenging to reach, there is one thing many have found quintessential to the process: mindfulness. In fact, according to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, flow is a state of complete immersion in an activity. It's "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake," which to me, describes mindfulness and presence.
Maybe you've instilled agile practices, offered paid creative time, or automated processes and have seen some improvements in productivity. There are a number of valuable ways to jumpstart productivity on an individual and team basis. But when these practices are built upon a foundation of mindfulness, it can have a dramatic impact on the quality and sustainability of your team's productivity.
We've long promoted mindfulness among our team, but we recently decided to deepen our commitment to it, and we've seen a noticeable change in morale, focus and calm amid stress. Here's how we did it.
Weave mindfulness into your fabric
Even if you're not familiar with it yourself, you've probably heard someone mention the practice of mindfulness. It's simply the practice of bringing your focus to the present moment, calming your mind and body in the process. But while many people use mindfulness techniques at home, there's a whole untapped application of mindfulness at work that is waiting to be put into action.
Like many organizations, we operate in a fast-paced environment in which decisions need to be made quickly and we face a number of competing priorities at any given time. However, our team shares a common value of being "deliberately healthy" and we recognized, early on, how important it would be for us to slow down, remain calm and embrace mindfulness in our day-to-day.
To get our team bought into this practice, we knew we needed to first connect the dots and show them the benefits of a consistent mindfulness practice and how that impacted success in the workplace and in their personal lives. This will look different for every organization and team --the key is to figure out how you can weave it into your day-to-day and in a way that will be meaningful to your organization.
For example, it might be explaining to your leadership team how mindfulness can help them lead better by developing their listening and empathy skills. Or how mastering mindfulness will empower your sales team to close more deals by way of improved communications and deeper connections they'll be able to make with prospects.
At Tallwave, we also adopted a mindfulness app created for the workplace to bring an element of fun and accountability to our commitment to mindfulness. Having all of us on one platform has made it easier to encourage one another to remain active, give shoutouts to each other in real time, and ultimately grow stronger as a team.
Commit to making it a habit
Once you get your team excited about practicing mindfulness, your work isn't over. Just like anything else, mindfulness has to become a habit for it to stick long-term. When your team has committed to giving it a go, make sure you have reminders and reinforcements in place to keep propelling it forward.
For example, our leadership team vowed to keep beating the drum of mindfulness, and holding each other accountable. We also created incentives for using the app, and check in with each other during team meetings to see how we're holding to it.
It took a couple months of championing the practice, reminding employees to carve out the time and reinforcing behaviors before we began to see the results take hold. But the results proved to be worth the effort.
Within just three months, we've seen approximately 90 percent of our team adopt the practice, and more than 540 daily mindfulness practices have been completed. This has translated to improved focus and even camaraderie among the team (some are in friendly competition to see who can be the most 'mindful').
Make it a team effort
When mindfulness truly becomes part of the fabric of your organization, you'll begin to see everyone working together to pull toward presence. To help spur this along, we developed a common language around the practice internally. At any point, we use these cues to remind one another (and ourselves) to breathe, be present, and speak and act with clarity of mind.
Especially in the middle of tense meetings or high-stress one-on-one conversations, having a shared understanding of healthy ways to communicate and be present has helped us resolve issues faster, make decisions more clearly and collaborate more effectively. And by each team member mastering the ability to slow down and gain clarity, we've been able to become far more productive and develop deeper relationships among the team.
There are many ways to create a culture of productivity at your organization, but for us, striving for mindfulness has helped our team be more immersed in the task at hand, which by nature has had positive benefits on the productivity level. When you make space in your mind to be present, you can improve your communications, decrease your stress, increase organizational collaboration -- each of which is bedrock to productivity.