It all starts off well…
I get up early, exercise, spend some time meditating and write in my gratitude journal on the train ride into the city. I arrive at work a calm, centered, mindfulness machine and then….BAM!
Emails! Meetings! Deadlines!
Before you know it, it’s waaay past lunch and my neck hurts and my mind is racing.
I know I’m not alone.
I go into each day with the best of intentions, but work is called work for a reason and some days I really struggle to be my best self.
American workers aged 25-54 with children spend an average of 8.8 hours a day at work.
If you work 5 days a week/50 weeks a year, that is a grand total of…
2,200 hours a year. Yes, 2,200.
However you slice it, we spend a lot of time at work. So, let’s spend a little time right now thinking about how we can infuse that time with the values that we hold most dear. For me, that means staying present, calm and kind.
Here are my easy to use top 5 tips…
#1 – Get the Morning Routine Right
One way that I try to set myself up for a successful morning routine is by getting my nighttime routine right. This means setting out my workout clothes, picking out my work outfit, and leaving the kitchen in an orderly condition. It’s so much nicer to wake up with things laid out to help you on your way.
Rising early, exercising, spending some quiet time alone and having at least two cups of coffee gives me the best odds at a mindful day.
Dr. Suzuki in her book Healthy Brain, Happy Life promotes that morning exercise has a positive impact on mood and concentration. Why not schedule some exercise into your morning?
#2 – Meditate at Work
The corporate world has gotten hip to the power of meditation and mindfulness. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weinberg, among many others, has talked about how meditation has made them better leaders.
Companies like Apple and Google have set up meditation spaces and groups in order to support mindfulness practices among their employees. And why not? There are obvious benefits in terms of reduced employee stress and increased job satisfaction.
If your office doesn’t already embrace meditation, you can still practice on your own.
You don’t need a private office or work space to meditate!
Simply schedule a few minutes a day to enjoy a moving meditation with a walk around the block. It will give you a chance to get centered and you will get some fresh air!
If you are feeling especially proactive, point your HR representative in the direction of this recent article from Harvard Business Review addressing why big businesses are investing in mindfulness – maybe they’ll decide to get on the bandwagon!
#3 – Get Perspective
The most stressful parts of my workday don’t usually come as a surprise. It could be a challenging meeting or any work situation that you find stressful.
Simply make sure that you set yourself up for success.
One thing that has worked for me is to spend a few minutes reflecting on all the people in my non-work life who love and support me. My family and friends don’t care how well my presentation goes. They will love me anyway.
If you give over too much power to these transient experiences at work, then they will hold more weight and meaning than they really need to. Don’t let them.
We all know that most of our everyday work challenges won’t be central to our stories when we look back on our lives with distance and perspective.
Remember, if it won’t matter in 5 years, or 2 years, don’t overemphasize it now.
#4 – Stretch…
Modern office life is very comfortable in many ways, but the sustained sitting and hunching over a computer can take its toll. Some studies suggest that you should be walking or standing for at least two hours during your workday. Use your watch or phone to remind you to take a stretch break.
… and Breathe
Mindful breathing can also be a very helpful tool for tempering your reactions in challenging work situations. Instead of launching into an exposition about why your boss should see things your way…
Stop! Take a deep breath. Pause. Breathe again. Then speak. You’ll be amazed…
#5 – Find Meaning
No matter what you do for a living, find a way to derive meaning from it.
Maybe you are able to offer excellent customer service and improve people’s daily lives in the process. Maybe your company produces a product that meets an important need. You don’t have to be a doctor to feel good about your work (although doctors are cool, of course). You just need to understand how your contributions at work are an expression of your deeply held values.
I’ve found that in the moments that I am most frustrated and unhappy at work, coming back to what drew me there in the first place is a great anecdote. It keeps me connected to my larger purpose, and not just the frustration of the moment.
Our work life is just that — life. Stay awake to your work life, all 2,200 hours a year of it.
What strategies do you use to stay mindful at work?
Let us know by tweeting @PursuitofMind @Mindful_Striver