10 tips for bringing mindfulness to your desk

Mindfulness is an amazing resource to bring into everyday life. I really like this article about bringing it to the work environment as a powerful way to manage stress and be at your best.


1. Keep a clear desk. Work on one thing at a time. Multitasking is the urban myth of our modern age. No one (not even women) will get 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 mobile 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, and if it’s important they’ll call. When it comes to 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 of the following (or all): breathe fully, sip water or take a walk round the office or, even better, outside. When you breathe, turn away from the screen, close your eyes and exhale fully. Really sense the breath moving in and out. What do you notice about the air you take in and expel? Pay attention

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 are slowing down your awareness to notice such miniscule things trains your brain to relax more and focus. Try it.

5. Do a body scan. Continuing on from number four, start at the crown of the head, and slowly tune in to each part of the body. Notice how it feels. This will probably take around two minutes and can take longer if you have longer.

6. When others speak to you, listen intently. How annoying is it when you talk to someone and they are staring at a screen and 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 get into rapport with them. Notice how the quality of your conversations improve. “Most conversations are just monologues delivered in the presence of a witness” - Margaret Millar.

7. Set an intention. Beginning with the end in mind was one of Stephen Covey’s seven habits for highly effective people. A few thousand years before that, yogis knew this too. When you have clarity of purpose it becomes easier to see whether what you are doing is taking you closer or further away from that purpose.

8. When stopping for lunch/food, actually stop. Taste your food. Take your time and get away from the desk. Pay full attention to what you are doing, eating, drinking. It will help your digestion too.

9. Try some 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 am the first to admit that when I worked full time as a business woman, 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. But when you do, it makes a huge difference.

10. Wrap it up. When you have finished your desk work for the day, take three to four minutes to list the things that went well. Stand up and stretch. Breathe fully in and out and allow your work to melt away into the past and bring yourself fully back to your body, into the present moment.