As marketers, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of mental overload. Too much reporting data, too many platforms and tools to keep track of, too many emails. When we create and handle digital marketing strategies for clients, whether it involves paid search marketing, SEO, content creation, social media, or all of the above, could it be beneficial for our brains to adopt a practice of increased mental presence? The answer is yes. An added bonus: mindfulness can also prove beneficial for our clients and their inbound marketing success.
Mindful Team Members: The Basics
Countless high-profile companies around the country have embraced mindfulness in the workplace, from Google to LinkedIn to Adobe, and for good reason: mindfulness can help reduce stress, anxiety and conflict; improve emotional intelligence and awareness; and enrich communication in the workplace. Research has also shown that some types of meditation and other awareness practices can improve memory, encourage creativity, and help individuals stay focused on the task at hand.
But what exactly does this mean? In the simplest definition, mindfulness means awareness. Let’s do a quick quiz to see how aware you might be in the workplace. In the past couple of weeks, have you found yourself:
- Get off task in the depths of the Internet?
- Unable to remember details of your commute to work?
- Eat at your desk without really tasting your food?
- Skim over articles, emails, or other written documents?
- Dwell on a previous meeting, project, or phone call that didn’t go as well as planned?
If you answered yes to any of these, you’re probably spending at least some time on autopilot during the workday. A zoned-out workday is not the best thing for you, your company, or your clients. So let’s become more aware – how?
Quick Tips for More Mindful Work
In marketing agencies, we are typically tasked with a heavy workload. Rushing from one task to another is common, and as “efficient” as we might think we’re being, our brains aren’t happy. No wonder the holidays are consistently a time of stress for many of us!
Here are some simple tips for better awareness to try out during the coming workdays of the New Year (and onward):
- Start each day with a few minutes of conscious breathing. Breathing is key to becoming more aware of your intentions for the day. What do you really want to accomplish today? This will help you avoid simply “going through the motions” of your daily tasks, emails, and other projects.
- Tip: If your mind wanders (as it probably will), try to notice the thoughts coming into your head, acknowledge them, then let them go. Bring your concentration back to your breath. Then relax.
- Practice really listening to and caring about coworkers, clients, and other people you interact with throughout the day. More aware listening requires you to shift your mind away from your to-do list that you’re most likely constantly keeping track of in your head. Recognize the needs and accomplishments of others. Tiny acts of kindness may ease their day too, which in turn, brings the positivity right back to you.
- Write a tangible to-do list for the day and/or week. One of the best ways to keep that ever-present to-do list out of your head is to simply write it down. Seeing your projects and agenda written out in front of you helps keep your mind focused on a single task and allows space in your head for the present.
- Set aside time for mindful moments – make it a priority. Just as you would schedule a meeting, schedule out time for yourself to be quiet, mindful, and present, even it’s for just 1 or 2 minutes to be alone with your breathing. Use time for deep breathing techniques when you feel overwhelmed or stressed throughout the day as well.
- Become content with waiting on things you can't control. For lots of people, the instinct when we’re waiting on something (in a line, at a traffic light, or on hold on the phone) is to turn our faces to the screens of our phones or laptops. Resist the temptation. Use that time to be present and calm, rather than continuing to stimulate your brain with even more screen time.
Clear and Present Minds for Better Marketing
Today’s culture in digital marketing agencies inherently requires us to be held accountable for reporting more metrics, to market through every channel available to us, and largely just to do more.
“Mindless marketing leads to poor customer relationships, high team turnover, and a lower quality of life. It usually appears in the form of overdoing and multitasking,” says Lisa Nirell, author of the book The Mindful Marketer and chief energy officer at the consultancy EnergizeGrowth. “Overload is a choice. It’s our responsibility to know when it’s time to turn off our email, social media feeds, and just allow our brains to process information. There is a fine line between being informed and inundated. Mindfulness practices are a gateway towards becoming a market-maker, a fearless and effective communicator, and a visionary for their customers.”
The neurological benefits of mindfulness have been linked to development in areas that help our ability to mitigate conflict, communicate more effectively, and consider alternative perspectives. In the scope of marketing, all of these benefits mean that we can better devise creative marketing strategies for our clients, communicate with them in a more understanding and empathetic way, and manage the heavy workloads so common in agency life more tactfully and efficiently. We as marketers often face a hard choice between being thoughtfully strategic and rapidly proactive. Mindfulness allows us to confront this choice with better discernment. It allows our brains to pause, prioritize, and ask ourselves honestly, “how could we do things differently or better?”
So, in 2016, let’s pause. We all pride ourselves on providing the absolute best for our clients and going above and beyond the call of duty. Here’s a secret: to go above and beyond, we don’t necessarily have to do more, we just have to be more. A more mindful approach can show us that path. How can you be more mindful in your work in the coming year?