Mindfulness encourages us to tune in to ourselves and tap into the present moment. It’s easy to get dragged into the drama of everyday life and forget how amazing it is to be alive, but using the ideas below can focus your attention allowing you to feel better and do better.
Computers are a huge part of our lives, and some office work is essential in any business. Even those who love their job have to spend at least some time doing the administrative tasks. Here are a few simple tips to keep sane and healthy while at your desk; making small changes consistently is the key to bigger transformation, and these will quickly start to make measurable differences in your outcomes.
1. Keep a clear desk.
Work on one thing at a time. No one gets better results by doing several things simultaneously. Pay each task the attention it deserves, and when it’s complete, tick it off the list.
2. Limit email and cellphone checking.
Most people have email on their phones, and if you really counted the amount of times you checked per day, you would probably be shocked. Set limits, try once per hour or longer if you’re disciplined enough. Leave the ringer on; if it’s important they’ll call. I’m not even going to start on social media — if you need to use it for work, keep your tweets and status updates to a set time per day and stick to it. It’s the only way!
3. Take regular breaks.
Set aside two minutes per hour to do one or all of the following: breathe fully, sip water, or take a walk round the office (or outside). When you breathe, turn away from the screen, close your eyes and exhale fully. Really sense the breath moving in and out; see what you notice about the air you take in and expel.
4. Notice your environment precisely.
How many sounds can you hear and name? What temperature is your face, hand, body? How do your clothes feel? This really is mindfulness, and you can’t rush it. The very fact that you're slowing down your awareness to notice such miniscule things trains your brain to relax more and focus. Try it.
5. Do a body scan.
Following number 4: starting at the crown of the head, slowly tune in to each part of the body and notice how it feels. This will probably take around two minutes, and can be longer if you have longer.
6. When others speak to you, listen intently.
How annoying is it when you talk to someone and they're staring at a screen, not really taking in what you’ve said? Pay them your full attention, breathe out as they speak and notice the subtle ways that you can develop a rapport with them. Notice how the quality of your conversations improves.
7. Set an intention.
When you have clarity of purpose, it becomes easier to see whether what you're doing is taking you toward or away from that purpose.
8. Eat lunch mindfully.
When stopping for lunch or food, actually stop. Taste your food. Take your time, get away from the desk. Pay FULL attention to what you're doing, eating, drinking. It will help your digestion too!
9. Practice slow-down exercises.
Take one whole minute to have a drink of water. Take 30 seconds to type one word. Take 40 seconds to breathe in and out once. These sound silly and infuriating, and I'm the first to admit that when I worked full time as a businesswoman, this kind of stuff used to just annoy me. It’s such a big contrast to the always switched on, available, intellectual brain that it takes a while to discipline yourself to do it. When you do, it makes a huge difference.
10. Check in at the end of the day.
When you've finished your desk work for the day, take 3-4 minutes to list the things that went well, stand up and stretch or if your office is at home like mine, lay out on the floor and stretch. Breathe fully in and out and allow your work to melt away into the past (which is where it is now) and bring yourself fully back into your body, into the present moment.
Mindfulness is an amazing resource to bring into everyday life, whatever activity you may be doing — enjoy every moment.