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Mindfulness makes for better multitasking at work

A new study found that office managers who received mindfulness training not only were less stressed out during multitasking, but they also were able to concentrate longer without being diverted. Why isn't every company investing in this training?

Is multitasking ruining your life—and your effectiveness at work?

Here's good news, then: A new study from the University of Washington, done by two computer scientists with help from a neuropsychologist, has found that human resource managers who did eight weeks of mindfulness training not only were less stressed out by their daily multitasking—but they also were able to concentrate longer without being distracted.

Those who meditated before multitasking spent more time on tasks and switched tasks less often, but took no more time to complete their work. They also showed improved memory of the tasks they were doing.

Hallelujah! I don’t know about you, but that sounds like training that should be required in every office.

Mindful companies

And some of the smartest companies already are. Did you catch the New York Times Magazine feature about Google’s mindfulness guru, Chade-Meng Tan, and his “Search Inside Yourself” free class that focuses on attention training, self-knowledge and self–mastery, and the creation of useful mental habits?

More than 1,000 employees have already taken it and report afterwards that they are, for instance, more resilient leaders, more able to listen to colleagues and be less reactive. No doubt, those benefits extend to employees’ home lives as well.

An ancient practice, mindfulness seems an increasingly relevant tool for achieving and sustaining wellness and success in today’s nonstop world. And scientific studies backing its physical benefits—including immune system enhancement, lower blood pressure, and reduced arthritis pain to name just a few—continue to pile up.

I’d love to see my company, New Hope Natural Media and its parent company Penton Media, offer mindfulness training to employees in the near future. I’m certain we’d all reap benefits not only in efficiency and morale, but also in reduced medical and insurance costs.

What about your company? Are you already doing programs like this—or do you think you could rally your team? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

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