Autumn seems busier every year, doesn’t it? There’s no shortage of impact conferences and organizations the world over are pouring over the last quarter’s results and firming up their strategies for the coming 12-months. For my clients, it’s also time to take stock and think about the professional position they’d like to be in when the leaves start to fall, shedding the old for the new growth.
Whether you are looking for a complete career change or to improve your leadership skills in your new managerial role, I suggest trying out mindfulness. Mindfulness can be used to drive change in organizations, so why not address change in ourselves?
I’m thinking three minutes a day is all it takes. I’m not suggesting an hour of meditation a day or even 20 minutes. We aren’t looking to add to the stresses of your calendar, or set goals to far out of reach. So with that in mind, and for only three minutes a day, here are my top 10 tips to center yourself and practice mindfulness at work:
1. Connect with your senses
Even one minute of consciously connecting with one of your senses can be classified as a mindful exercise. You don’t need to close your eyes. You don’t even need to be sitting down. Simply connect with your body. Perhaps try to slow down as you walk to your car, check in with your senses and release any tension. Be aware as your heel and toes touch the earth.
2. Be a single-tasker
Just do one thing at a time. This is especially important when you are feeling overwhelmed. Multi-tasking actually limits productivity and increases stress. Give yourself permission to focus…on just one thing. If you feel yourself wandering off to another task, that’s ok just re-center and come back to that one focused task.
3. Switch off as many distractions as you can
Silence your phone, log off of your social media accounts and set a timer. Now that you’ve wiped away distractions, get to work! Reducing inputs reduces noise in our heads. Try even turning off the radio while you are driving to work and listening to your breathing instead. It may feel strange at first but it works!
Take deep breaths and practice a couple of yoga poses at your desk or go for a brisk mindful walk around your office building. Each time you get up to go to the bathroom or get a drink, use that as a time to stretch your arms over your head, bend your head and neck and get some blood flowing again. Sitting is the new smoking.
5. Put mindfulness in your calendar
Set an appointment with yourself! You won’t forget or have excuses to skip out on your favorite mindful practice if you’ve booked the next 3 minutes to release your stress. Some of the fitness watches like Apple’s actually has a breathing reminder app. Funny that we actually forget to breathe!
6. Check out for lunch
Whether it be every day or just once a week try eating by yourself, in silence. Stay away from devices, slow down, and taste your food. You may not be able to take a Japanese nap at the office but this act of self-care will recharge you for the rest of the day. I promise!
7. Slow down to speed up
Being fast doesn’t make you better. Being in a rush leads to poor decisions and a misuse of energy. We end up living on adrenaline which zaps us of energy later. I have a mantra, “if we slow down so does the clock”. It truly works that we end up feeling we have more time if we slow down. Taking time to reflect before acting on or deciding anything ensures thoughtful results.
8. Be grateful
Practicing gratitude has a positive impact on your creativity, health, working relationships, and quality of work. It’s truly a chain reaction. Overuse “Thank you” and see how your coworkers’ morale improves, see how the positivity follows you home at night. I have a poster in my office, “smile, it confuses people”. Try it! Smiling and being grateful will shift how others relate to you.
9. Be humble
Take a few minutes to think about the people who have helped you: parents, guardians, teachers, employers. Be willing to work hard, but not only for yourself or your company. Work hard for the people you influence and the people who have influenced you. You’ll be a better leader and coworker when you deflate your ego and congratulate your team and even your boss.
10. Baby steps
Awareness is the first step. Don’t try to make big changes towards mindfulness all at once. Commit to one thing new each week that you can practice and don’t get overwhelmed by thinking you need more time and more to dos in order to be mindful. Take your new mindful attitude with you everywhere – while in the shower, walking the dog, or boiling the kettle. Every moment is an opportunity to pause and be present.
So there you have it, my top 10 tips for practicing mindfulness at work, and in your life, every day. You don’t have to do them all seven days a week — some will be weekly or monthly commitments — but they all contribute to the ongoing actualization of your sense of purpose and personal happiness.