In this guide, we’ll discuss how to use meditation for productivity and focus.
Whether you’re trying to improve your career, get coursework done, or just generally be more productive, meditation can help.
Scientific research has proven that meditation improves productivity and focus . Indeed, this is one reason major companies like Google are now using meditation in the workplace according to Harvard Business Review.
Here’s how it works.
The Link Between Meditation, Productivity and Focus
How does meditation make you more productive?
To answer that, we need to look at the nature of both productivity and meditation.
Productivity means the efficiency of our work. It is usually measured as input against output, such that the more work we put in the more results we expect to get out of it.
Many things influence productivity. For instance, neuroscience tells us that we need the right amount of dopamine to get a sense of reward for motivation. We need the right amount of the stress chemical noradrenaline too, which creates fear of what might happen if we procrastinate. And we need acetylcholine, which enables us to focus. We also need a strong prefrontal cortex because that is the most important part of the brain for productivity.
Let’s bear those things in mind one moment while we look at meditation.
Meditation is a psychological exercise in which we focus the mind on one aspect of the present moment, similar to mindfulness.
Modern meditation is based mostly on Buddhism with techniques like Vipassana and Anapanasati, and there are newer methods like Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.
And, of course, there are guided methods too, including many guided meditations for productivity. However, research from Harvard Medical School  shows that guided meditation apps are not effective, and that proper tuition is a better way to go.
These methods of meditation all involve focusing the mind to create psychologically beneficial states.
So how does meditation make you more productive?
Well, for starters, there is significant research that says that meditation strengthens the prefrontal cortex, the most important part of the brain for productivity. This part of the brain makes decisions, focuses, judges, plans, and is involved in self-discipline.
When neurons in the prefrontal cortex fire more easily we become more productive.
Neuroimaging scans show that meditators have enhanced neural activity in the prefrontal cortex compared to non-meditators. This means that while non-meditators are being distracted by unwanted thoughts and the “Monkey Mind”, meditators are more able to concentrate on work. Plus, meditators are better at making decisions and less inclined to procrastinate. Finally, meditators have more self-discipline.
So how about the brain chemicals we looked at earlier: dopamine, noradrenaline, and acetylcholine? Research reveals the effect of meditation on these brain chemicals.
- A study found that teachers have a 64% increase in dopamine after one hour of meditation.
- Dr Herbert Benson and researchers at Harvard Medical School found that meditators do still produce norepinephrine, the stress chemical. However, the hormone’s effect is blocked. This means that the body is still affected by noradrenaline. Therefore, we get a boost of energy from it. However, the “fight or flight” response is reduced. And so, we are not distracted by stress and anxiety.
- Meditation increases acetylcholine in the frontal lobes. In turn, this increases focus and attention.
In other words, meditation increases productivity because it leads the brain into its most productive state.
So how do you use meditation for productivity?
Best Meditation For Productivity And Focus
This is my best productivity meditation script. It is based on Buddhist Samatha, a traditional meditation for concentration.
- Sit comfortably on a meditation chair. Make sure your feet are squarely planted on the floor shoulder-width apart. Your knees should be directly above your ankles and not locked. Your spine should be straight and relaxed. Slightly lower your chin to elongate your neck.
- Place your hands in Gyan mudra by extending your fingers and curling your thumbs and index fingers so they touch at the tips. Place your hands palm-up on your thighs.
- Close your eyes and begin to breathe mindfully. When using mediation for productivity, we train the mind to focus on one thing despite distractions. To do this, we are going to focus the mind on the space just beneath the middle of the nose. Focus on this point.
- Naturally, certain distractions will occur. These could include intrusive thoughts and external events like the doorbell ringing. What we want to do is keep the mind focused on the spot just beneath the middle of the nose. When distractions occur, remind yourself that they are temporary and unimportant. Continue to focus on the same spot.
- Continue for twenty minutes.
This is the best meditation for productivity and focus because it trains the mind to focus on one thing despite distractions.
More Types Of Meditation For Productivity And Focus
The best meditations for productivity and focus are ones in which you focus on one thing. In other words, “Focused Attention Meditation”. This quietens the mind and removes mental noise. In turn, it improves productivity and focus.
1. Zen Meditation for Productivity
Question. Out of all the people in the world, who do you think has the best focus and concentration? Personally, I would say that Zen monks have better focus and concentration than practically anyone else. And one of the main reasons for that is because they practice Zen meditation.
- Sit or kneel facing a plain wall (yes, the wall is important).
- Close your eyes three-quarters of the way. There would be a slight opening in your eyes.
- Cup your hands and place them on your lap.
- Meditate on your breath for 108 breaths.
Note that this is also one of the best meditations for studying.
2. Simple Breathing Methods
If you’re a beginner meditator, there’s not much sense in trying an advanced meditation for productivity. You’ll simply spend all your time trying to work out what you’re supposed to be doing. Better to start simply.
For an extremely easy way to boost productivity, try breathing meditations.
Breathing meditations will help you to relax your mind so you’re not caught up in any kind of stress and anxiety. That will naturally boost your productivity levels.
Breathe in for four. Hold for four. Breathe out for four. Hold for four. Repeat 108 times.
3. Mindful mornings
For optimum productivity, meditate in the morning. Life feels good when you can jump out of bed and immediately start being productive.
There are many good meditations to do in the morning. They range from eating breakfast mindfully to doing some mindful movement meditations, like tai chi and qigong. You could even choose to just brush your teeth mindfully or take a mindful shower.
4. Samatha meditation for productivity
Do you ever struggle to focus on just one thing? You know what it’s like, you’re trying to get your office work done but you keep checking your phone and going on Facebook instead. Hey, it happens to the best of us!
A great solution is to meditate on one object. You could focus on your breath, a candle, water, a sound, whatever you like. This trains the mind to focus on one thing and cut out distractions.
5. Walking meditation
Have you ever noticed that when you go for a walk you clear your mind? Then when you return to work you are more able to focus and get things done?
I personally love my lunchtime walk. It does so much good for my mind. And it makes me more productive. What’s even better than a simple walk, however, is a mindful walk.
Mindful walking is precisely what it sounds like: you meditate on walking. Just go for a slow walk and focus on the process of walking. Notice how your feet move, how your legs swing, and so on. This will help to ground you in the present moment.
Guided Meditation For Productivity and Focus
I challenge you to spend one week doing these meditations for productivity and focus. You will see significant results from continued practice. Of course, to take your meditation further, book a meditation lesson online with me.
1: Amishi P. Jha, Jason Krompinger & Michael J. Baime, Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience volume, https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/CABN.7.2.109#page-1
2: Want to Raise Your IQ by 23 Percent? Neuroscience Says Take Up This Simple Habit, MELANIE CURTIN, INC, https://www.inc.com/melanie-curtin/want-to-raise-your-iq-by-23-percent-neuroscience-says-to-take-up-this-simple-hab.html
3: Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness, Sara W. Lazar, Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361002/