Perhaps you’re not (yet) into it, but you probably have heard about mindfulness-based meditation. The simplest form is to just sit down, pay attention to your breathing and whenever your mind gets distracted, you just bring it back to the sensation of the breath again and again.
This may seem like a dull thing to do. But actually, learning to meditate can really make a difference in your life. As proven again by new research, focused on the beneficial effects of meditation on work performance. More specific, researchers investigated how meditation can enhance multitasking behavior in a high-stress information environment.
The researchers tested three groups of human resources personnel. One group underwent an 8-week training course on mindfulness-based meditation. A second group had 8-weeks of training in body relaxation. The third group endured a wait period, were tested, and then underwent the same 8-week training as the first group.
Before and after each eight-week period, subjects were given a stressful test on their multitasking abilities, including the use of email, calendars, instant-messaging, phones and word-processing tools to perform common office duties. Researchers looked at their speed, accuracy and number of times they switched tasks. Furthermore, the participants reported their stress levels and memory performance while doing the jobs.
The researchers found that only those trained in meditation stayed on tasks longer and made fewer task switches, as well as reporting less negative emotions after performaning the stressful test, as compared with the other two groups. In addition, both the meditation and the relaxation groups showed improved memory for the tasks they performed.
The researchers write in their paper that meditation “appears to strengthen one’s ability to notice interruptions without necessarily relinquishing one’s current task.” They add that “having such skill might therefore give users the choice to stay with the current task longer, rather than responding to each interruption immediately.”
“Meditation is a lot like doing reps at a gym. It strengthens your attention muscle,” says researcher David Levy of the Information School University of Washington.
According to USA Today, Levy knows what it feels like to be overwhelmed at work, what made him wondering why people make themselves work this way. “We’ve gotten to a place where we’re just speeding up and we don’t do things well. We’ve got to slow down.”
So if you want to increase your focus and calm your stress at work, go meditate and become a multitasking master.
Source: USA Today
Photo: Kashirin Nickolai/Flickr