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How to have a mindful work day

Find moments of calm and clarity, even on the busiest of days. Meditation teacher Meg James explains how.

Woman working at laptop. Image: Meg James

Have you ever driven to work but not been able to recall how you got there? Are you quick to forget conversations you’ve had with colleagues? If yes, you’re probably zoning out regularly.

We spend so much time operating on autopilot, unconscious of what’s going on around us, but being mindless at work can result in rising stress levels and poor productivity.

The good news is you can train your mind to become more aware and focused through the practise of mindfulness. Mindfulness is about focusing your attention on the here and now. It’s about experiencing the present moment; acknowledging your thoughts, surroundings and actions, without any judgement. And ultimately, all you have to do is pay attention.

“Mindfulness is about experiencing the present moment; acknowledging your thoughts, surroundings and actions, without any judgement.”

6 ways to be more mindful at work

1. Start your day with a mindful coffee (or tea)

Turn your daily caffeine hit into a mini meditation by tapping into your senses. Follow this simple practice:

  • Hold your cup between your palms and notice the warmth. How does it smell?
  • Take a sip, pause, and revel in the taste.
  • Swallow and focus on the sensation. Notice how it makes you feel physically and emotionally.

2. Try single-tasking instead of multi-tasking

It might seem counterproductive, but you will achieve more by working on one task at a time. Commit to giving each task your full attention by switching your mobile onto do not disturb, shutting down your social media, and closing your inbox.

After practicing single-tasking for a while, you’ll start to notice that you’re more productive, the quality of your work has improved, and you feel less frantic.

3. Slow down!

When I worked in a corporate environment I was so busy and stressed that I used to run from my desk to the printer. But when I committed to slowing down, I very quickly became more level-headed and effective. It may sound strange but it really works.

4. Practice mindful communication

  • In person. First things first – put your phone down! Whether you’re in a meeting with your boss or even chatting with colleagues, make an effort to listen without distraction. Your presence is a sign of respect and your relationships will reap the rewards. Plus you won’t miss important details.
  • On the phone. There’s nothing worse than being on the phone with someone who is clearly not paying attention to what you’re saying. Make sure you’re fully present in the conversation by turning away from your computer and putting aside your to-do list.
  • Via email. Instead of belting out emails at a rapid-fire pace, take your time to craft each sentence.

5. Set a mindful moment reminder

To successfully establish a new habit, you need to make it part of your daily routine. Set reminders to take mini-mindfulness breaks every few hours on work days. Use these intervals to mindfully drink a glass of water, take a few deep breaths or go for a short mindful walk.

6. Accept what you cannot change

We waste a lot of energy denying and resisting the aspects of our work that we don’t enjoy or agree with. However, the more we resist our experience, the more we suffer. Acceptance doesn’t mean you have to like everything, or that you can’t have an opinion, and it certainly doesn’t mean you need to give up your desire to change and grow. But adopting an attitude of acceptance will allow you to be receptive and open to your current circumstances.

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