The Benefits of Using Data to Bring Mindfulness to Your Work | Beth's Blog

The Benefits of Using Data to Bring Mindfulness to Your Work

Digital Wellness, Measurement

Never in a million years did I ever think I would use data and mindfulness in the same sentence.      For the past two months, I’ve been wearing a rock in a bra, a device called Spire.  You think of it as a fitbit for stress developed by the Calming Technology Lab at Stanford University.   You wear it in your bra or clip it to your waist, and it measures your breath.    It streams data to an app on your phone like your step count, but more importantly  gives you a report on whether you are calm, tense, or focused based on the length, depth, and spacing of your breath.

While some people may say they don’t need a device to tell them when they’re stressed out, I’ve discovered that having some data that tells you how many minutes and exactly when you are calm and focused can be useful – especially if you reflect on what activity or environment you were in when it occurred.   This insights helped me consider how I can be more intentional about calm and focused, versus letting stress hold the reins!    The device comes with an app that captures the data, and while still a little buggy, it is useful.

Even more useful are the “boosts” or the short guided meditations that accompany the device, although you need to device to use them.     I’ve been using meditation apps to help incorporate mindfulness into my work day so that I can be more productive.  Along with other “conscious computing apps,”  I’ve found my breathe,  OMG I can Meditate, and Mind Apps to be great teachers for the past 18 months I’ve gone down the journey of being more mindful and incorporating more walking into my work. Perhaps that is why the spire had not yet tracked any “tension” time for me yet!

These are just a few of the “healthy technology tools” that I’ve been exploring and so excited about the idea of using healthy technology to be better at work that I’ve proposed a session at the Nonprofit Technology Conference 2016 (you can vote for the session here).

But why should we even care about healthy technology and bring a focus to mindfulness and fitness into the workplace?   I’m sure there are skeptics rolling their eyes — thinking that it might be lead to a loss in productivity, but I think it would lead nonprofits to better outcomes.     Here’s a recent article about the reasons why bringing mindfulness to your work and workplace is a good idea and the benefits:

1.  Better decision-making
2.  Emotional IQ
3.  Presence
4.  Memory
5.  Listening
6.  Sense of Purpose
7. Leadership

This year I’ve been working on a pilot, funded by the Packard Foundation, in collaboration with Third Plateau, on leadership development for emerging leaders.  This peer learning program that also includes young leaders and their mentors – is built around strengthening Emotional Intelligence both online and offline.     One of the areas we include is self-management and mindfulness – such important skills for leaders and a mindset that can be embodied in an organization’s culture.

Do you bring mindfulness to your work and workplace?   Do you think it is a bunch of new age “woo woo” for nonprofits or do you think it can help nonprofits achieve better outcomes for both individuals and their organization?



6 Responses

  1. This is a really interesting way to combine these two seemingly disparate topics! But those of us who think logically could use this type of data to better understand our stress in a new way. Sometimes it feels like there is nothing that can be done to counter it, but metrics could bring a new personal understanding and better management. But I could see how the use of certain language could influence the perception of individuals!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    THanks for this post! I agree that self-management and mindfulness are a must for every leader or a person who wants to be him one day.Moreover people can educate these traces in themselves.

  3. As a former nonprofit manager for a community organization I think that mindfulness would be really useful in the nonprofit world. The emotional attachment to the work is much more pronounced in nonprofits vs. business and I think that meditation would help people realize that self-care and times of rest are important too.

  4. Heather says:

    I have been working to find more balance in my life and my work and am so encouraged to see you are doing the same and sharing your insights. It reminds me of the importance of this.

  5. […] addition, Beth Kanter offers tools and tips for using data to help with your mindfulness […]

  6. Fantastic post and some great links, thank you! It’s been my experience that when I ‘forget to be mindful’, my health, my mental abilities and my work all suffer. But when I take even a few moments each day to be aware, to breathe and to focus on the internal as well as the external, these things all noticeably improve.

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