From Microsoft to HSBC, the business world has embraced mindfulness in a big way. And it’s no surprise.
Top executives know that a decrease in stress over today’s worries, and anxiety over tomorrow’s potential woes, paves the way for mental clarity, creative thinking, higher-level awareness for better decision making, restful sleep — in general, a more productive, happy employee, who performs closer to their full potential.
But what about entrepreneurs: the startups and the small businesses?
If you’re like many small business owners, you have an ever-growing list of tasks you’d like to accomplish. You might often feel like you could grow your business faster — if you only had more time. The good news is, mindfulness is something you can incorporate into your workday to increase your productivity while still respecting your limitations. It’s all about being intentional about how and when you work.
So how can mindfulness help you to become more productive?
1. Don’t Sacrifice Sleep
The mythical stories of successful people who sleep just four hours a night have encouraged a generation of sleepless budding entrepreneurs. The reality is that very few people have the gene that allows for such little sleep — and sleep in the medium and long term is as important as eating in the short term.
A highly-regarded study from Sweden found productivity increases when the workday is shorter. The wellness benefits you get from enough rest and sufficient downtime will improve your productivity when you are working.
2. Keep a Tidy Workplace
Whether you have a proper office or just a laptop you use in cafes and parks, a tidy entrepreneur’s office means a tidy entrepreneur’s mind.
Get rid of the clutter. Limit your workspace to related items only: books, files, tech and other necessities. No cups and plates from last week or relics that should be in the attic. This means inside your laptop and phone too. Clear up that desktop and downloads folder once a week, and delete apps you no longer need.
A minimal, well-organised workplace is conducive to a mind-set of the same; a place for strategic, critical, creative thinking.
3. Set Digital Boundaries
Distractions are detrimental when you’re trying to be productive, whether you’re an entrepreneur or not. How many times have you procrastinated just because you were too distracted to finish whatever it was you needed to do?
For entrepreneurs though, distractions are even more of a threat since it’s much easier to become distracted if there’s no “boss” standing over you or breathing down your neck every hour or so.
To keep your possible distractions to a minimum, consider using the digital wellbeing settings on your smartphone to automatically set a timer for your phone to go on “do not disturb” at certain times of the day. That way, you’ll avoid accidentally getting distracted in the middle of working on something important.
4. Embrace Routine
It’s easier to relax and remain in touch with your thoughts when you know what lies ahead of you. So infusing your day with even a tiny bit of structure can help you be more mindful. You don’t have to become a complete creature of habit, but building a loose, adaptable schedule with regular tasks and activities will make it easier to keep you focused.
5. Revisit Your Purpose
When you’re running a business, it’s easy to lose connection with the inner fire that drove you to entrepreneurship in the first place. For this reason, it’s important to constantly revisit all the reasons you started a business. Keeping a strong sense of purpose will enable you to get going every morning, excited to move things forward.
6. Ask for Help
You can accomplish significantly more by delegating. You shouldn’t have to do everything yourself. For example, when it comes to keeping on top of your company finances, you can reach out to an accountancy service to manage your admin for you. Asking for help with minor or extraneous tasks — and even with the main task if you’ve hit a wall in your thought process — can free your energy to re-focus on exactly what needs to be accomplished.