Manage Your Distractions to Improve Your Performance

mindfulness distractionsBy Elena Foucher, Mindfulness Coach

We all want to perform better, according to scientist, Dr. Fadel Zeidan (1), mindfulness can have a direct impact on improving our performance.

In today’s demanding world, our jobs require constant connection, immediate responses and high levels of accuracy. If we want to perform better, faster and with more accuracy we need to address one of the major things impeding our performance: constant distractions.

In the modern workplace our environments are filled with distractions. Our devices are designed to offer constant connection, constant interaction and thus constant disruption. How many times have you been interrupted from a task by emails, phone calls, colleagues?

On the inside, we have the even bigger issue of our unmanaged mental processes. For instance, during an important conversation with a client, we might get distracted thinking about lunch. When our attention returns to the the client, we realize we missed part of what they were saying. Not only embarrassing, this distraction could have cost us crucial information. Other internally sourced disruptions include inappropriate emotional reactions, “catastrophizing,” lack of connection with self and others, etc..

For most of us these distractions are constant occurrences, and it is difficult to stay on track when we can not manage them. What can we do?

Study after study shows that mindfulness helps us “modify our own minds to improve our cognitive processing -- most importantly in the ability to sustain attention and vigilance.” (2) Mindfulness is attention training. It trains us to concentrate, both on the task at hand and on determining whether a given interruption is relevant to the task or not. We train ourselves to notice our internal and external environment without getting distracted by it. When that thought of lunch comes up, we notice it and immediately decide that the client is more important. When an email pops up, we quickly decide if it is relevant and read it or not with minimal disruption.

Mindfulness helps us manage internal and external disruptions improving accuracy, efficiency. As well as stress reduction, mindfulness is a great way to improve overall performance.



(1) Zeidan, F., et al. Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness and Cognition (2010), doi:10.1016/j.concog.2010.03.014

(2) University of North Carolina at Charlotte. "Brief meditative exercise helps cognition." ScienceDaily, 19 April 2010.