12 Easy Ways to Be Mindful at Work

Mindfulness is a simple form of meditation, little known in the West until recently. A typical meditation consists of focusing your full attention on your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Focusing on your breath allows you to observe your thoughts and let go of struggling with them.

Many people say they don’t have 30 minutes to meditate every day. And that is not a problem! The good news is that once you have learned how to ‘drop into awareness’ at any given moment, practising mindfulness at work won’t take you any extra time from your busy schedule. You can actually access mindful awareness at any moment and it is, in fact, necessary that you learn how to integrate it into your daily life if you want to get all the benefits.

Incorporate Mindfulness Practices Into Your Work Day

  • Begin each day by noticing the air flowing through your nostrils or into your abdomen for a few breaths before getting out of bed.

  • If on the train or bus you could listen to an audio track of mindfulness practice, or if driving you could drive in silence for a few minutes, noticing the feel of the steering wheel, the sensations of pressure as your body makes contact with the car seat, and of course pay close attention to what is happening on the road ahead.

  • When you arrive at your destination, allow yourself a few moments to sit in the car, noticing the breath.

  • When you walk to the office – just walk – notice the sensations and movements in your feet and legs.

  • Before you start on any tasks, intentionally make a list of the top three things you would love to make some progress on today. You can keep coming back to this every couple of hours and ask “Am I on track or am I distracted right now?”

  • Sit at your desk while your computer is turning on, noticing the sensations in the body as you sit.

  • You could mindfully eat your lunch paying attention to the colours, taste, and smells of the food.

  • Start your workday with 3 slow mindful breaths, or use the 3 minute mindfulness track below. At the end of this make a commitment to yourself to bring mindfulness to your tasks today.

  • Try to be present and fully attentive to the task you are working on, for bursts of time, focusing on one task at a time (rather than multi-tasking). Notice when you get drawn away from this by either external distractions or your wandering thoughts, and gently and non-judgmentally bring yourself back to the task. It can be easier to do this if you turn off distracting devices, windows and programs running, email notifications, etc.

  • Connect with your senses and your body as you do the task – notice the feel of the keyboard on your fingertips, your body making contact with the chair, the feeling of pressure as your feet rest in your shoes on the floor, how your body weight is distributed on the chair, etc.

  • Bring your attention to everyday things in between work tasks – getting up, washing your hands, opening a door, breathing.

  • Set reminders to being mindful, once these activate you can then take a few mindful breaths to re-centre. You could set an alarm on the phone, in your calendar, or place an image or note close to your computer to remind you.

Of course, engaging in regular formal meditation most days will give you a much stronger ability to harness mindfulness in your day, as your brain will adapt and grow more of the necessary neurones and connections the more you practice. However, we hope that these 12 strategies will get you started on the journey, and open up a new way for you to be more present, centred and effective in your day.

Martin Hood
Martin HoodBrisbane City Psychologist
Martin is a Clinical Psychologist with a proven track record in producing good outcomes for clients across a broad range of presenting problems, including stress, anxiety disorders, depression, grief, OCD, eating disorders, anger management, and couples therapy.