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Quiz: How mindful are you?

Topic: 

How can mindfulness help you in the workplace? Take our quiz to help understand how mindful you are – and how to become more focused at work.

The practice of mindfulness - the conscious, non-judgemental focus of your attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment[i] - has many benefits for mind and health. But mindfulness also has a place in the business world, with increased productivity, better conflict resolution and enhanced memory being among the many workplace benefits.

Think about your own relationship with ‘mindfulness’. Do you live in the present moment, aware of your thoughts and feelings and how they govern your working life? Are you able to devote yourself entirely to one task, focusing on the end result without getting distracted by phone calls and emails?

Or do you start one task only to be drawn into another and another until you complete the business day with a longer to-do list than you started with? Are you so disconnected from your own feelings that you often fail to notice you’re in a bad mood until a colleague points it out?

Chances are, you lie somewhere between the two extremes, depending on the situation. The following quiz – based on the Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale designed by psychologists at La Salle University to measure two core pillars of mindfulness (awareness and acceptance), will gauge where you currently sit and how you can progress your practice to the next level.

 

 

1. On my commute, I focus on the smells, sights and sounds of the journey, rather than letting my mind wander to to-do lists and the day ahead.

 

 A. Never

B. Rarely

 

C. Sometimes

 

D. Often

 E. Very often

 

2. When the day kicks off with a bad meeting that leaves me angry and upset, I try to put those feelings out of my mind so that I can carry on with my workload.

 

 A. Never

 

B. Rarely

 

C. Sometimes

 

D. Often

 E. Very often

 

3. When chatting with colleagues over a coffee, I am aware of my emotions about what’s being said and notice if I am distracted from the conversation by my own thoughts.

 

 A. Never

 

B. Rarely

 

C. Sometimes

 

D. Often

 E. Very often

 

4. If a colleague behaves badly or unfairly towards me I struggle to manage my emotions.

 

 A. Never

 

B. Rarely

 

C. Sometimes

 

D. Often

 E. Very often

 

5. When my boss delivers negative feedback, I notice any changes in my body like my shoulders stiffening, breathing growing heavier or my heart beating faster.

 

 A. Never

 

B. Rarely

 

C. Sometimes

 

D. Often

 E. Very often

 

6. If I’m particularly stressed at work, I line up numerous distracting activities that will allow me to forget about the office.

 

 A. Never

B. Rarely

 

C. Sometimes

 

D. Often

 E. Very often

 

7. When I receive positive feedback, I immediately notice how this alters my mood and affects my output.

 

 A. Never

 

B. Rarely

 

C. Sometimes

 

D. Often

 E. Very often

 

8. If I’m struggling with a particular work relationship, I tell myself that I shouldn’t have negative thoughts about the person in question.

 

 A. Never

B. Rarely

 

C. Sometimes

 

D. Often

 E. Very often

 

9. When colleagues shares news with me, I pay attention to their body language and facial expressions as well as what they are saying.

 

 A. Never

B. Rarely

 

C. Sometimes

 

D. Often

 E. Very often

 

10. When I recall negative feedback, I quickly try to put it out of my mind.

 

 A. Never

B. Rarely

 

C. Sometimes

 

D. Often

 E. Very often

 Get your scores: For questions with odd numbers, score yourself as follows: Never (1), Rarely (2), Sometimes (3), Often (4), Very often (5). For questions with even numbers, score yourself as follows: Never (5), Rarely (4), Sometimes (3), Often (2), Very often (1).

 

 

If you scored 10 points or under

It probably comes as no shock to you that you need to do some work in order to get your mindfulness practice working for you and reaping all those productivity and wellbeing rewards – in life as well as in the workplace. You might find your lack of mindfulness manifesting in a lack of rapport with colleagues due to low level listening, forgetting names, or starting tasks you never quite finish.

Formulating a plan to overhaul your approach and become an expert overnight is unlikely to stick; instead begin to make small, incremental changes to channel your body and mind into the present moment. As you lie in bed after lights out, put thoughts of tomorrow’s to-do list out of your mind and focus on where you might be holding any tension; travel up and down your body, breathing into and sending calming thoughts to each area until discomfort is released. In the morning, spend your snooze time imagining waves rolling over you, washing away any worries that might have survived the night.

Rather than use your commute to catch up on emails, download something to your smart phone that you can fully engage with for the duration – relaxing music, a TED talk, a guided meditation. If you find your mind drifting to worries or concerns about the day ahead, use the ‘just worrying’ label technique, whereby you tell yourself that you are ‘just worrying’ and then return to your mindfulness. It doesn’t matter how many times you have to apply the label, keep doing it and then re-focusing on your activity. Once you’ve mastered these short exercises, proceed onto some of the more advanced exercises below.

 

If you scored between 11 and 25 points

You may have mastered the art of quick meditations and consciously getting in touch with your body on command; now it’s time to start incorporating some of those skills into your daily working life. Do your workplace relationships wonders by consciously choosing to focus entirely on the person or persons with whom you’re speaking. Notice not only what they’re saying, but what their body language and facial expressions are telling you, as well as how your own emotions fluctuate in response to what they’re saying and doing. After the conversation, take time to reflect on what you learned about the other person.

During meetings and presentations devote your attention to the room, but notice when your thoughts wander and bring them back to focus. When you’re working on tasks that require deep concentration, invest the time in ensuring that staying mindful is as easy as possible – switch off email notifications, divert your phone to voicemail, ask colleagues to avoid interrupting you between set hours. Build up to complete focus in stages if you need to, setting your phone or alarm for 15 minutes of uninterrupted devotion to the task. When you feel ready to move your practice up a gear, try out some of the exercises outlined below.

 

If you scored between 26 and 40 points

Your practice is well on its way to positioning you as a deeply mindful worker and you’re no doubt already reaping rewards in terms of greater connectedness with your emotions, better handling of stress and a deeper understanding of your approach to various situations – all signs of high levels of emotional intelligence.

Begin to enhance your practice further. In any situation where one of your senses is dominant, consciously bring the others into awareness: when showering notice the smell of your products as well as the feel of them against your skin; when listening to a talk, watch for micro-expressions as well as focusing on the presenter’s patter and tone; as you’re chairing a meeting, check in with your own feelings as well as hearing your own words and directing confident body language. Flex your curiosity muscle too: question what you hear, see and feel in the moment. If you discover a fact that intrigues you, delve further into it. If someone shares an opinion that you feel is worth exploring, do not put it off until later – seize the day. If a newspaper headline or a snippet of conversation overheard inspires a new idea, jot it down and keep writing until you’ve fully explored every angle. Already on your way to masterful mindfulness, read on for yet more advanced tips to move your practice into top gear.

 

If you scored between 41 and 50 points

Congratulations – you have mastered many of the arts of mindfulness. You are in touch with your emotions and how these change according to various internal and external factors; you’re also able to read others and how they might be feeling and adapt your behaviours towards them accordingly. Your ability to give yourself fully to whatever you’re working on is a great testament to your mindfulness practice.

You may like to try out some highly advanced meditation exercises – proven to further deepen your practice. Try a cleansing meditation to enable you to bring your most positive self into any moment: the ‘inner smile meditation technique’ requires you to smile inwardly and reassuringly to yourself while acknowledging however you may be feeling: find a comfortable spot, close your eyes and gently smile. While smiling, imagine in your mind’s eye an inner, existentialist smile and begin to drag up the corners of its mouth until both your insides and outsides are smiling, working at it until you instinctively feel the two connect.

You may also wish to keep a mindfulness journal, to record your thoughts, experiences, observations and emotions as they happen in the moment. The act of committing yourself to paper will deepen your self-knowledge and lead to further gains from your mindfulness practice, so regularly check in with your journal, noticing any new patterns as they emerge.