Synopsis: The concept of Mindfulness has made its way into corporate culture as a way to get employees to focus and tune out distractions that keep them from productivity. One of the biggest hurdles to implement this is in the meeting setting. Employees regularly bring laptops and smartphones in meetings that inhibit free-flowing brainstorms and ideation. How can we practice mindfulness in this setting and what are the benefits?
Making Meetings Mindful
Flip through any fashion magazine and you’re likely to see unadorned faces and simple silhouettes in neutral hues. High-end restaurants are serving uncomplicated dishes and comfort foods. A trend in fitness is body weight training, ditching free weights to use just the body for resistance and building strength. This notion of getting back to basics seems to be in response to our increasingly complicated lives where we’re expected to constantly multitask, be connected 24/7 and always on the go. To combat emotional and creative burnout, there’s a growing movement to find ways to de-stress and simplify. It’s called mindfulness and boils down to living in the moment; being present and engaged in everything we do (yes, this even includes breathing).
The practice aims to minimize distractions to get closer to our true thoughts, harnessing this newfound energy into something more productive and ultimately, more beneficial to our mental health. Since we can’t stop the pace in which we live and work, what we can do is make a conscious effort to clear our heads and make room for positive thoughts and ideas. Employers are increasingly recognizing the advantages of implementing mindfulness in the workplace given that idea generation is essential to staying innovative and competitive. Many are enforcing new rules to reduce distractions including banning smartphones, tablets and even laptops in meetings, so participants are forced to focus on the task at hand and net a more productive outcome.
The Cost of Distraction
More than a third of employee time is spent in meetings so it comes as no surprise that 70% of employees admitted to bringing other work with them. Though it’s common protocol to bring laptops and smartphones to meetings, attendees end up paying attention less– even those who furiously take notes via laptop aren’t recalling the content. A seemingly innocuous email scan or glance at one’s calendar interrupts the flow and tempts others to check their devices too. Meetings intended for brainstorming or problem solving become not just a waste of time, but a waste of money, too, with an estimated cost of $37 billion a year spent on unnecessary or inefficient meetings. In response, business leaders are implementing a back-to-basics policy for meetings: no outside work, no smartphones, no laptops and no multitasking. Instead, employees are focused on working collaboratively to generate ideas and problem solve. From these “mindful meetings,” employers are reporting favorable results such as more participation, better insights being shared , shorter durations and an overall reduction in frequency of meetings being held.
Making Room for Ideas
Stripped of anything extraneous, these mindful brainstorming, planning and troubleshooting sessions rely on more traditional mediums such as flipcharts, sticky notes, white boards or pen and paper to capture notes and ideas. Encouraging employees to express ideas through any output, e.g. words, drawings, diagrams, etc. gives them the freedom to think unconventionally which at the same time hones both critical-thinking and problem-solving skills as well as collaboration. And it’s not just the process of ideation that’s valuable, but the medium by which it’s conducted can be beneficial as well. Research has shown that handwriting, vs. typing on a laptop, helps with greater comprehension and memory retention which is essential when tackling complex issues.
Digital that’s Distraction-Free
While there are obvious benefits to mindful meetings, the biggest challenge is how to take ideas captured in this analog fashion and easily share them so they can continue to flourish. Fortunately, there are tools that offer the benefits and ease of handwriting with digital technology for a distraction-free way to capture, shape and share ideas. The Bamboo Folio and Bamboo Slate are two styles of smartpad that allow you to write as you would normally on pen and paper and with the touch of a button, save your work as a digital file. Up to 100 pages of notes can be saved locally or when synced with your tablet or smartphone, files can be accessed from anywhere. With a host of compatible apps, such as Bamboo Paper, users can easily edit, organize and send files. With an Inkspace account, you can enhance your experience and convert handwritten notes to text, annotate and mark up documents, even turn drawings into scalable vector files. Suddenly those brainstorm notes can take on a new life beyond the conference room walls.
Ideas On The Go
With the Bamboo Slate and Bamboo Folio users can enjoy a natural pen on paper experience with digital technology that’s distraction-free. Write as you would normally on any regular notepad with the smartpad’s refillable pen and with the touch of a button, save your work as a digital file. Both versions come in two sizes that accommodate full-size (A4) and a half-size (A5) notepad paper. The Bamboo Folio features an integrated protective cover and the Bamboo Slate comes without and both provide a lightweight solution for capturing, shaping and sharing notes and ideas. These Bamboo smartpads also boast a long battery life so you’re always ready, whether inspiration strikes in the office or on the go.
Practicing mindfulness in all areas of our lives can feel overwhelming, but you can start with small steps. At work, try focusing on one assignment at a time instead of being tempted to multitask. Keep distractions at bay and commit to being present on calls and in meetings. By simplifying the tools we use in our day-to-day tasks, we make room for more creative thoughts and ideas. The pace of our lives isn’t likely to change anytime soon, but if we can find ways to actively stay engaged throughout the day, you’ll be surprised that just by paring down you may actually accomplish more.
For more information on the Bamboo smartpads, click here.