Being more productive is the way to make more money and advance your career. After all, if you are getting more things done then you are seen as more valuable. This can lead to raises, promotions, and accolades.
I did an 8 week experiment in meditation and wound of increasing my productivity more than I thought was possible.
In this article I’ll talk about the benefits I discovered and then I will tell you exactly how I meditated in case you want to replicate a similar experiment in your own life.
Benefit #1: Getting More Time
After meditating for 8 weeks I noticed I had more time. Not just a little more time, it felt like I doubled or quadrupled the amount of time I had to do everything.
Getting ready for work? Before this experiment I would stumble out the door still buttoning up my shirt with one hand while death gripping a steaming cup of coffee in the other.
After a few weeks of meditation I noticed that I woke up earlier naturally. The first thing I did when I woke wasn’t checking e-mail, instead it was meditation. This put me in the right mindset which meant I would get ready for work at a comfortable pace.
This was unheard of before my days of meditation.
Did I actually gain more time? No, we all only have the same 24 hours per day, but I had more space in my brain to plan what I was doing next.
Before everything seemed like an emergency I had to deal with immediately. After my 8 week meditation experiment I was starting to prevent those emergencies before they started. I was looking at life from the 30,000 foot level rather than always being in the trenches. This let me avoid some problems all together, and to prepare better for obstacles I had to face.
I shattered the illusion that I need to always feel rushed in order to think I was being productive. I realized the truth that being rushed led to more mistakes and LESS productivity.
Benefit #2: More Emotional Stability
I’ve always been a pretty emotional guy.
I’m not afraid to feel strong emotions and to let other people know what I am feeling. In the past these strong emotions had me losing my temper and treating people poorly.
What I noticed after 8 weeks of meditation is that things that used to bother me didn’t bother me anymore.
During this time I working at a job that was particularly frustrating. The managers didn’t know what they were doing, people were constantly getting fired, and the company set unrealistic expectations on what could be done in a given time period. To put it simply, my job was extremely stressful.
Halfway through my 8 weeks of meditation I noticed myself having more fun at work, being less annoyed at the idiotic decisions being made, and generally smiling more.
My work environment hadn’t changed, but I had changed.
I realized later that this is because of an area of the brain known as the cerebellum is actually triggered to grow in response to meditation brain training. The cerebellum is typically associated with helping the body coordinate physical movement. It’s also been shown in recent years to help you regulate and control your emotions as well.
I literally upgraded the hardware in my brain which allowed me to not be as frustrated by the little annoyances of life.
Benefit #3: Laser-Like Focus
Meditation is training the brain to focus on a specific thing for a “long” period of time. In my 8 week challenge I meditated in 15 minute intervals.
You might think you can concentrate on one thing for 15 minutes, but chances are you are wrong. The mind is always wandering away and coming back to the task at hand.
Through my 8 weeks of meditation, I challenged my brain to stay on task longer. This immediately improved my life outside of meditation.
I was more focused and could concentrate longer on tasks at work. This let me complete tasks much quicker than I normally would since my brain wasn’t constantly distracting me with desires to check Facebook or my e-mail inbox.
Benefit #4: Increasing Effectiveness
One of the most important benefits of meditation is the mindset shift I had about productivity.
Before this meditation experiment I was constantly trying to produce more and get things done faster. When you are in that mindset you aren’t as concerned as much with WHAT you are doing, as long as you are doing it quickly and efficiently.
This is the wrong way to think.
Why try and complete a task quickly if that task isn’t important? What beats productivity every time is effectiveness.
Being effective means choosing the right tasks to do at the right time. When you do this you might technically be producing less, but you are exceeding every other metric of success.
Here is a good example:
Your job is to find a needle in a stack of hay, which method will you choose?
- The Productive Way: Start examining every piece of hay one by one until you find the needle. The more hay you examine the faster you will find the needle.
- The Effective Way: Come up with a creative solution to find the needle. Maybe use a magnet. Or if you don’t care about the hay, light it all on fire and find the needle once all the hay is a pile of ash. You will spend less time working, but you will find the needle MUCH faster.
It’s hard to think effectively is you are always in a mental rush and are controlled by your emotions. That is why meditation is so effective at making you more effective!
How You Can Learn to Meditate
I meditated for a total of 30 minutes a day, every day, for 8 weeks.
I meditated for 15 minutes in the morning after I woke up, and 15 minutes in the evening right after work. I practiced a type of mindfulness based meditation where you are focused on the breath.
You don’t need fancy meditation cushions or enlightening incense. A simple chair facing a blank wall is all that is required.
If you are interested in improving your work life and being happier overall, I would highly recommend trying this 8 week experiment.