People are less likely to let their minds wander on Wednesdays but stress doesn’t help
On average, people spend 37 per cent of their time while at work mind-wandering, according to a report from consulting firm Potential Project.
Focus is at its worst on Mondays (41 per cent) and is moderate on Tuesdays (36 per cent), Thursdays (38 per cent) and Fridays (37 per cent). People focus on work the best on Wednesdays (30 per cent).
This loss of focus is bad for business. The U.S. economy alone loses $300 billion annually due to unfocused employees, unproductive teams and absent-minded leaders, according to the report.
"It is vital, particularly now as organizations plan for a return to work, for us to deepen our understanding of what drives renewed engagement and sustained performance at work,” says Rasmus Hougaard, CEO of Potential Project. “Employees and leaders want to feel and perform better at work as we climb out of the pandemic."
And things get worse when people are stressed, found the survey of 225,000 respondents in 44 countries across 15 industries.
A stressed, agitated mind will wander two to three times more compared with a calm mind.
In a week, mind-wandering levels for people feeling calm is 31.6 on average: 35 per cent on Monday, 29 per cent on Tuesday and Wednesday, 30 per cent on Thursday and 25 per cent on Friday.
In comparison, mind-wandering levels for people feeling stressed is 52.5 per cent throughout the week: 51 per cent on Monday, 49 per cent on Tuesday, 47 per cent on Wednesday, 55 per cent on Thursday and 59 per cent on Friday.
Nearly half (47 per cent) of Canadian workers feel exhausted while 51 per cent feel stressed, compared to the global average of 39 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively, according to a report from Microsoft.
Mindfulness practice, sleep and social connectivity can help solve the issue, according to the report.
The minds of people who practice mindfulness are likely to wander 28 per cent of the time compared with 52 per cent of those who do not share this practice. People who sleep seven or more hours per night (35 per cent) are also less likely to wander off compared with those who sleep less than six hours (41 per cent).
People who feel connected (30 per cent) also fare better in this regard compared with those who feel alone (48 per cent).
People’s minds often wander when they are bored. To that end, employees can benefit from a change in pace, according to Robert Half.
“Machines don’t get tired of repetitive tasks; people do. Employees need some variety in their work, with new responsibilities and learning opportunities to challenge them. Job redesign can prevent the kind of work burnout that causes people to grow frustrated and fatigued – and look for other positions.”
Early last year, Starbucks announced it was providing Canadian employees with a free subscription to the meditation app Headspace.