We rarely spot our screw-ups in the heat of the moment — we're too busy trying to get the next thing done. When we're able to take a breath and step back, though, everything we've done wrong pops out at once, beyond obvious. Even if you're not quick to find past errors, there's an achievable middle ground between rushing toward disaster and furiously overthinking your work.
Psychology researchers at Michigan State University have just released a study into how mindfulness and meditation can help reduce errors on the job. In particular, they've focused on something called open monitoring meditation. "It has you tune inward and pay attention to everything going on in your mind and body," said study co-author Jeff Lin. "The goal is to sit quietly and pay close attention to where the mind travels without getting too caught up in the scenery."
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After just 20 minutes of this practice, the brains of non-meditators began producing more signals that indicated they were consciously catching mistakes more quickly during a distraction test. Other studies have assembled a pretty impressive array of benefits, with mindfulness being linked to improvements in team-building, alleviating anxiety, and recuperating from burnout.
While even the study's authors agree that most discourse and research into meditation can sound like so many buzzwords, they were impressed with their results. "It makes us feel more confident in what mindfulness meditation might really be capable of for performance and daily functioning right there in the moment," said co-author Jason Moser. So take a moment, breathe deep, and consider giving meditation a try.