Are you easily distracted? If you are like many (and myself) keeping a tight focus on the task at hand can be a challenge. Oh look, a bright shiny object… In his research on mind-wandering, Matthew Killingsworth shows how losing focus on the job reduces both happiness and productivity. In fact, it appears that about half of our waking hours are spent thinking about what isn’t going on. Yikes. It seems then that a good idea for managers is to look for ways to help themselves and their team members stay focused.
Be Here, Now
It seems that no matter what people are doing, they are much less happy when their minds are wandering than when they are focused. Killingsworth argues that in order to optimize our emotional wellbeing, we should pay at least as much attention to where our minds are as to what our bodies are doing. Interestingly, this seems to echo the message of spiritual teacher Ekhart Tolle whose primary message is about living in the “now”.
Mind Wandering & Productivity
Data suggests that letting your mind take a stroll down the garden path reduces productivity, even if you do creative knowledge work. Even if your mind rambles to positive thoughts, it does little to impact your productivity. If your mind ambles into negative territory, your output is curbed markedly. Thus, managers might want to look for ways to help employees stay focused, for both the employees’ sake and the company’s sake.
A Simple Tool
Last week, I wrote about a simple yet powerful technique that I believe deserves repeating. In order to minimize mind wandering and increase focus, simply set a timer to go off every hour and ask yourself the following two questions:
- Am I doing what I most need to be doing right now?
- Am I being who I most need to be right now?
So if you want to increase the happiness & workplace productivity of yourself or your team, try the above strategy and let me know the results. If you’re like me, you just may be surprised at how impactful these 2 simple questions are.