Science Says Meditation Will Make You More Productive
I have to admit, I was highly sceptical about meditation before I started doing it. I never really considered myself as a highly spiritual person and I definitely don’t always resonate with some of the spiritual woo-woo that is attached to it.
But, as I studied high performers across all kinds of different industries, I found that the biggest majority of them implemented the meditation habit on a daily basis. Thus, I decided to give it a go.
A few years later and I realize how wrong I was to doubt meditation. In fact, I dare to say that in ten years meditation will be just as ingrained in our society as exercise is right now. Not only do I base this on my personal experiences with meditation, but also on the hundreds of studies that have proven the incredible benefits of meditation.
Although the benefits of meditation range anywhere from lower stress levels to improved memory, I’ll specifically focus on how meditation makes you much more productive.
Meditation ‘Strengthens’ Your Prefrontal Cortex
The primary reason why meditation is so beneficial to your productivity level is that, according to research, meditation ‘strengthens’ the prefrontal cortex. To be more precise, there’s a strong correlation between meditation and increased grey matter in the prefrontal cortex. In other words, the neurons in your prefrontal cortex will fire more effortlessly.
The reason why this is so powerful is because the prefrontal cortex is the area in the brain responsible for many of our executive functions such as decision-making, focus, judgement, behaviour, planning and self-discipline. In other words, on a neurological level, your brain will find it easier to take productive actions and make productive decisions.
You’ll experience much less inner resistance towards doing the right things (instead of procrastinating) as the neurons fire much more easily. Thus, your performance will improve significantly.
In fact, it has been proven that the prefrontal cortex of meditators is actually larger than that of non-meditators.
Studies comparing the brains of meditators with non-meditators have revealed important differences: Non-meditators have brain activity associated with higher distraction, racing thoughts, more mind wandering and poor concentration.
On the other hand, the brain activity of meditators correlates with present-moment focus, concentration, self-awareness, and self-control.
Just like you can get stronger muscles by going to the gym, you can get a ‘stronger’ prefrontal cortex by meditating — and that has a powerful effect on your productivity.
If there’s one habit that is proven by study after study to improve your ability to focus, it’s meditation. First of all, through meditation you learn how to silence inner distractions (thoughts) and instead focus on just one thing (such as your breath). Over time, as you become better and more familiar with this practice, it translates to other areas of your life, such as your work.
Second of all, meditation helps build a ‘stronger’ prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for your ability to pay attention and focus on your task at hand. Thus, on a neurological level you’ll find it easier to stay focused for longer periods of time without seeking distractions.
My productivity levels skyrocketed when I learned how to focus with great intensity on one task for a long period of time. I dare to say that it shaved off about 2 hours (!) of my workday, as I complete my tasks much, much faster than before (and with more flow, joy and higher quality).
In fact, research shows you’re distracted every 40 seconds when working in front of a computer connected to the internet. In other words, our productivity levels suffer immensely from our inability to focus. Meditation is one of the best antidotes to this huge problem.
Better Decision Making
Meditation trains you to become more aware of your thoughts, emotions and actions. And this, in turn, leads to much better decision making. Instead of constantly operating on autopilot, you have the presence and awareness to make deliberate decisions and work with intent.
Instead of letting your emotions and urges drive your decision-making, you’ll have more control over it. This helps you to prioritize better, work with more intent and be more strategic about your actions.
Also, it helps overrule procrastinative thoughts when they come up, as you’ll have the awareness to do so. In other words, your ability to make better decisions has a direct effect on your ability to be highly productive.
Through regular meditation, you’ll become familiar with silencing and overriding your inner chatter and thus find it easier to override excuses and limiting beliefs when they come up. This helps you to consistently make the decisions that are aligned with your values and goals. In other words, you’ll be more disciplined.
Furthermore, it has been proven by science that meditation improves you self-discipline as the grey matter increases in your prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for your self-discipline and willpower. In other words, on a neurological level, your brain will find it easier to be disciplined.
As meditation helps to limit mind wandering, you’ll be more engaged in your work and less likely to fall back into distractions. Furthermore, since meditation helps you focus better, be more disciplined and make better decisions, you’ll find that you procrastinate much less as a result.
And when you do procrastinate, you’ll have better awareness over it so that you can catch yourself faster and use your improved cognitive functioning to get back to your work with more ease.
I clearly notice that I procrastinate more often when I don’t meditate for a few days. It may or may not be a coincidence, but it’s something that I’ve discovered in my own behaviour.
Now Do It
I hope you feel inspired to pick up the meditation habit as it has massive benefits for your productivity levels. You won’t notice most of these benefits overnight, as it takes some time to rewire your brain.
Therefore, meditate at least once per day for about 10 minutes for a period of multiple weeks to experience the real benefits (start with +- 5 minutes if you never meditated before).
To Your Personal Growth,
Founder Personal Growth Lab
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