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Psst, Too Much Multi-tasking Is Making You Less Productive

We all know that busy-ness is a badge of honor these days. But new research finds that living in tomorrow is making us a lot less productive today!

Management scientist at Case Western Reserve University stopped checking their messages while eating lunch and making ten copies to conduct research into something called "mindfulness," which is an old Buddhist concept that tells us to put all our energies into focusing on the current moment.

CWRU's research finds that being "in the moment" increases focus and collaboration, while lowering employee stress levels. I think we can all raise a Sloth-like smile to that!

But you're at work, where multi-tasking is still king! You have three meetings this morning, five customer calls to return by noon, way too many emails to answer, a quarterly report due tomorrow, a co-worker who needs to vent -- and you're try to manage all five at once!

Who has time to be in the moment in our multi-tasking work culture? Not your employer, for starters. From the official CWRU press release:

"Historically, companies have been reticent to offer mindfulness training because it was seen as something fluffy, esoteric and spiritual," said Christopher Lyddy, an organizational behavior doctoral candidate at Case Western Reserve's Weatherhead School of Management. "But that's changing."

Yes, some employers, including Google and the United States Marine Corps, are embracing mindfulness concepts to improve decision-making and decrease stress levels. Mindfulness can also improve our overall behavior, and attention span.

Short of a mindfulness training session (I know, who has the time, right?) there are simple ways to improve your focus on the job. Here are five quick tips for practicing mindfulness at work:

Less multi-tasking and more mindfulness might improve our national sleep deficit, too: A new CareerBuilder survey finds 44% of employees are laying awake at night thinking about work.

Being present in the moment is a choice we make. It's a conscious decision that says I will not be distracted, I am in control of my focus. What I am doing right now, in the moment, is my top priority. It has 100% of my attention. Everything else will wait.

So, try to do things one at a time. Let me know if it works. And get some sleep, will you?


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