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Mindful Work Effectiveness Secrets (From an Ex-Monk)

Dear Integral Meditators,

Coming to the world of business from being a monk was not easy for me. The article below explains a bit about how I started to use what I had learned as a monk to become effective in my daily work as a business person running my own company.

Yours in the spirit of the timelessly time-effective,


Mindful Work Effectiveness Secrets (From an Ex-Monk)

How can you get a lot done at your work without getting over-stressed or exhausted? And how can you do this not just in the short term, but over a long period of time?
When I left my life as a Buddhist monk and went into my own business I actually found it very difficult to pace myself well. There were so many things that I had to do, that I had to learn, it all felt a bit overwhelming. I found myself going through periods of intensive working, then burning out, then getting emotionally discouraged and then procrastinating/wasting time that I could be spending productively. I’m sure you have an idea of what I mean, it is a very human experience!

Make like a Buddhist monk  – Split your day into six sessions
I found a really helpful solution to my challenge by looking at the way in which I used to structure my day as a Buddhist monk. As a monk  my waking hours would be split into 6 parts, two in the morning, two in the afternoon and two in the evening/ at night. During each session we would begin with a prayer and a few minutes of mindfulness, and then return to our allotted tasks. Using this basic template I applied it to my working day, but in a slightly different way.
My day is still divided into six parts, but each section is only one hour long. In that one hour I spend 45minutes focusing really intensively on one work task; emails, accounts, writing articles, marketing etc… At the end of 45 minutes I then spend the remaining 15minutes relaxing; doing some stretching, getting a coffee, doing a few minutes mindfulness, generally re-finding my centre and balance.

Achieve something in each session
In each session I come out having really worked in an intensive way, and feeling like I have achieved something. Because of the focus I bring to it, the work itself feels like a meditation practice, with the object of mindfulness being the work itself. It also helps me deal with stress because in that period I am not thinking about my life or work as a whole, but just the process of achieving that task.
There is a saying in the texts that I used to study as a monk ‘small drops of water in a pot will eventually make it full’. Each of my 45 minute sessions is spent just focusing on the ‘pot’ of my business, putting in drops one after the other gradually making it full.

Each session does not have to be about work
During the 15 minutes at the end of each session, I get back in touch with how I am feeling. If I sense that my body-mind is getting close to exhaustion, I make a point of taking one of my sessions off, that is to say 45 minutes of deliberate relaxation, meditation, soializing or sleep. There is also plenty of time around each of the sessions to do other things
Sometimes of course the pattern breaks down, I go out for an evening with friends, I spend the morning with my daughter at the swimming pool, I have a meeting that goes overtime. But as soon as I return to my routine I am always thinking about my day in terms of these six periods, and how to use that structure to do some focused, productive work.

So now you know how an ex-monk structures his time using a mindful, process-focused approach that he find helps him achieve more. You might like to try it out, or a variation of it that will work for you!

Related Article: From Distraction to Intuitive Imagination (Meditation secrets for running a business)

Check out the Mindful Goals Coaching with Toby

© Toby Ouvry 2015, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

 Integral Meditation Asia