Increase focus and productivity using this simple 90-second breathing exercise.
You may have heard this before, as advice when you’re feeling stressed – take a breath! That’s good advice to deal with a stressful situation, but try taking it one step farther and take a planned minute and a half during your work day just to breathe and focus on the moment. 

The Payoffs Go Beyond Dealing with Stress or Tension

When you take 90 seconds to focus on your breath, you are pulling your mind away from the onslaught of distractions in your day-to-day work life. This renewed focus means you’ll come back to the task at hand with more clarity and this will ultimately make you more productive.

Most importantly, taking a moment to breathe will help you to keep your mind clear of the clutter that can get in the way of being an effective leader of your organization.

90-Second Breathing

You can do this exercise anywhere, but it helps to be sitting comfortably somewhere, like your desk chair. I’ve provided a timeline below to give you an idea of how this can be done in 90 seconds, but this is by no means a rigid schedule! Modify as it suits you. Just make sure you spend time at each stage.

Set yourself up by sitting straight, but not overly rigid. Rest your hands somewhere comfortable.
Close your eyes. If you prefer to leave them open, try to focus on a point in front of you and avoid looking around the room.

Step 1: 0-30 Seconds

Start by noticing: what thoughts are going through your mind, what feelings are you having, what sensations are in your body? Acknowledge whatever these things are, thoughts, feelings and sensations, but don’t worry about trying to change them or make them different. Just notice.

Step 2: 30-75 Seconds

Now take a breath. Focus on the sensation of the breath as it enters your nose, your throat, your chest, and back out. Repeat a few times. If your mind wanders, it’s ok! This is perfectly natural. Just notice when it wanders. Remember what’s important in this exercise is the noticing.

Step 3: 75-90 Seconds

Bring your attention back to your body, what’s going on around you – sounds, smells, sensations in your body. Open your eyes and smile!

Now, take the awareness you just created into your next meeting, presentation or task. Notice how you feel after you’ve taken just 90 seconds and focused on something as simple as your breath.

Joe Walsh started Green Clean Maine in 2007 to bring a truly sustainable and non-toxic cleaning service to Southern Maine.