The practice of mindfulness might seem far too unconventional to speak about when it comes to office culture and work productivity. But what does it truly mean to be mindful? To me, mindfulness means being present and focusing your awareness on that moment and task at hand. Thinking about mindfulness in this way leads me to believe that it is essential when it comes to working efficiently. A traditional office setting can be a true test of one’s mindfulness practice. However, as many companies introduce a more flexible work from home policy, the home office can be an even greater test on one’s mindfulness practice. With so many outside factors vying for our attention, here are 5 ways that have helped me cultivate mindfulness during the workday.
Time Block Your Calendar
No matter what your ego may be telling you, we as humans cannot possibly do it all and when we try to multitask, we often fall short. After reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown, I was inspired to schedule my day in a way that optimized time spent doing essential tasks. Time blocking is a massive productivity hack that combines the power of a to-do list with your schedule. It is the act of dividing up your day into smaller segments where you focus on a single task at hand. Thus, being mindful for that entire duration. Allowing your mind and energy to focus on one project at a time, and having your calendar as encouragement, will allow you to truly be present with what it is you are focusing your attention on.
Easier said than done, right? Running on autopilot may cause the day to go by quickly, but it really does a number on your nervous system. As you begin to time block your calendar, think about adding in some mindful moments during your day. This could look like grabbing a virtual (or in person) coffee with a coworker, opting to take a quick stroll around the block or office or even allowing yourself a few minutes to look up from your computer to notice your surroundings. Taking even just a few minutes to reset during your day will calm your nervous system and allow you to make well informed and thoughtful decisions.
To be mindful, we must be grateful. Practicing gratitude helps to bring your mind and body into the present moment by acknowledging all that there is to be grateful for. Taking 5 minutes at the start of your day to write down (or type) what you are grateful for can not only bring some positivity into your day but can bring you back into the present moment. See if a simple and daily practice of gratitude positively impacts your creativity, wellbeing, and overall work life.
Turn off Notifications for Deep Work
The all too familiar ping of an email notification can instantly break our focus and take us out of a mindful working moment. The key to truly being mindful is not allowing outside factors or energy to take our attention. This can be nearly impossible as we have become reliant on messaging applications to keep us connected to our colleagues. Try scheduling a few hours during the day for deep work, where you silence your email and messaging applications to turn your attention solely on the task at hand.
This tip might evoke a reaction as it can be seen as the most unconventional of all. The idea and act of meditation can seem daunting, but it is also one of the most effective ways to practice mindfulness at work. Your meditation can be as short and simple as you want. Think about using the 5 minutes before your next Zoom meeting as a sitting meditation. You can allow your eyes to close and take a full body scan to just notice where you are physically and mentally before your meeting starts. Or maybe you use your walk to refill your coffee as a meditation. Noticing the sounds around your office or house and how your feet meet the floor. Taking time to notice your body and mind in your direct surroundings will allow you to become fully aware of the present moment.
Have any tips on how you have been staying mindful as you WFH or navigate back to office life? I would love to chat! Feel free to email be at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Linkedin.
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