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Being mindful when working can increase your performance and job satisfaction

When we are not tensed, or consistently keep placing high expectations in order to perform, we may surprise ourselves that the results are usually higher than our expectations. It’s very important- when you are doing any tasks (work or household chores), do it with your heart and give it your best. Relaxed and just tell yourself you will do your best- not because you want to earn praises or inflate your ego, but to do it simply for the task itself and for yourself.

Some of us may do things like ‘going the extra mile’ in order to impress our bosses and colleagues. The problem comes when no one seemed to appreciate our hard labor and may even end up taking us for granted or throwing even more work along our way. We would end up feeling frustrated, angry, stressed and taken for a ride. That explains why many people are really stressed out in their jobs.

But it is not unusual to find that two people doing the same job often reacts differently. Same job, same hours but different attitude. One is more relaxed and have high levels of energy by the end of the day. The other person may feel drained, stressed, frustrated at the end of the day and end up releasing their frustration on their family.

Take for instance some cleaners who are cleaning my office. One of the cleaners had complained to me that the management is really working them up like slaves. You see, there are only about 5 or 6, and due to high turnover, sometimes only 3 or 4 are working in day. They are required to clean many floors in the building- wiping desks, sweeping, vacuuming and mopping- once a day. They also need to empty the wastepaper baskets (there’s a lot of wastepaper baskets) twice a day. Aside from that, a lot of office walls are made of glass. And both sides of the glass must be constantly cleaned. And there’s the walkways and the toilets that require constant cleaning. It’s a lot of hardwork and labor and the pay really sucks- it will not be enough for me to survive on their pay.

Yet, there’s this particular Indonesian – most of the time, she had to mop the floors. And she would just mop slowly but thoroughly- and she seemed to be focused entirely at the task on hand. She does a good job- the floor is cleaner and she only took at most about a minute or two compared to some of her friends who just did it with a sulking face. At the end of the day when her complaining friend looked drained and tired and was gradually gaining weight, this girl still have energy and is able to smile when she sees us.

So, it makes a different- from a toilet cleaner, a checkout cashier to a senior executive. The attitude and outlook makes a whole world of difference. If you do your job well, because you give your heart in whatever you do, there’s less effort involved because there’s no negative emotions. And labor of love always have that ‘personal touch’ that stands out- and with it, comes recognition, even when we are not looking for it.

If we are stuck in what you considered to be a ‘death-end’ job, our attitude towards how we spend that 8 hours or more during weekdays doing it makes a whole world of difference. The term to use is to be mindful in the task we are doing and attempt to block your mind from darting to everywhere else.

As we are working and you spend time dreaming of that dream job, we will soon find ourselves tired and emotionally drained because we can see the huge gap between where we are and where we want to be. So we would likely do our work half heartedly and with a little resentment. And when our boss receives half hearted work all the time, he/she may criticize us or give us a poor performance review. This further fuels our anger and frustration. We end up complaining and cursing about our work instead of seeing how that discontent was the source of all the unhappiness.

In other words, being mindful when we are working actually requires less energy and effort once it is cultivated. In the beginning, we may find it hard to keep our mind focused on the task at hand.

The best way to cultivate mindfulness is through meditation- start with daily short sittings of 5 to 10 minutes in the morning or right before you sleep and slowly progress from there. There are a lot of books out there that teaches relaxation or meditation. In today’s fast paced world, learning to relax and meditate is no longer a luxury- it is now a necessity for our peace of mind.

It is worth cultivating our mindfulness because once our mind is present at whatever we are doing, we will see improvement in other areas of our lives and our relationship with other people. The reason is because when we are with our family, our minds will learn to really be with them instead of drifting off to that meeting or that business venture we are meaning to start. And people can sense if you are really in the present or if your mind is somewhere else.

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