We all want to be more productive with the time we have.
(No matter how good at it you already are.)
But choosing what methods to follow from all of the available books, articles, and courses about being more productive can feel like just another way of procrastinating!
Fortunately, there’s a way to look at planning and moving through the day that doesn’t require a book, a course, or a big time investment: practicing mindfulness.
Science shows us that there are many benefits to mindfulness and mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness can make us more efficient, empathetic, and creative – and even better at making decisions.
But if you’re reluctant to add one more item to the to-do list, that’s okay, too! You can still employ mindfulness to increase productivity without long meditation sessions.
From a business perspective, simply being mindful can tell us a lot about how to set a schedule that works best for us!
What does it mean to be mindful?
Mindfulness happens when we take a moment to pay attention to the moment we’re in – without passing judgment on whatever arises.
If you’ve ever had your mind wander (we sure have), you’ll understand the thrilling labyrinth that is the mind at work.
And, more importantly, how ridiculously easy it is to lose track of time when you lose focus – or when your focus is on all the wrong things.
Mindfulness isn’t the same as thinking about a problem to find a solution. Thinking may happen when we take a moment to be mindful, but it isn’t the goal.
When you take even just a minute to sit quietly and pay attention to your breathing, you’ll notice the emotions and thoughts that come up. You may also notice physical sensations, like hunger or pain.
What’s so interesting about the mindfulness perspective is that the things that come up aren’t labeled as good or bad – what arises is just what arises.
As entrepreneurs, what comes up when we take a few moments to be present may have something very important to tell us.
Our thoughts and feelings (emotional and physical) remind us of strengths, weaknesses, and desires that we may not be aware of, and that may even surprise us!
Paying attention is the beginning of finding ways to maximize strengths and to make sure we’re on track with what we want to achieve.
Mindfulness and morning routines
There’s no right time of the day to practice mindfulness.
(Though there may occasionally be wrong times. During a wrestling match with an 11-foot alligator, for example.)
You can take a moment to pay attention while you’re brushing your teeth, or drink a cup of tea mindfully, or focus on your breathing as you sit quietly on the train.
Incorporating mindfulness into your morning routine is a particularly great place to start, because in the business of productivity, morning routines hold a special allure.
It can feel inspirational to read other people’s tales of morning bliss, and aspire to them.
Tales that include being gently woken by the morning sun, writing in your bullet journal to the dulcet purrs of your 19 cats, and collecting your thoughts on a brisk jog past to farmer’s market for a refreshing kale smoothie.
Maybe that’s you in that tale – but it sure as heck doesn’t have to be.
For every high achieving entrepreneur that’s up before the crack of dawn, there’s another whose relationship with the alarm clock is brutal and necessary.
Take Edgar, for example. He’s got nine brains to awaken. That’s nine shots of espresso to get his arms waving at optimal speed!
Or take our founder, whose morning routine has gone through changes over time.
Mindfulness in the mornings can tell you interesting things.
Maybe getting up early doesn’t make you grumpy – but checking your email first thing does.
Maybe you get your best work done between 7 and 8 am.
Maybe you friggin’ hate kale.
That fancy-sounding morning routine we aspire to might be entirely the wrong thing for us!
Night owls may thrive on an evening routine to conquer a few key tasks before bedtime, and early birds might benefit from moving their most challenging tasks into the timeframe when they are their chirpiest.
Who knows? You will – if you take a few moments to pay attention.
Once you’ve gotten into the habit of taking a moment to focus on your breathing here and there throughout your morning, start expanding this practice to other times of the day as well, and see what you discover!
Mindfulness and knowing when to walk away from a task
Mindfulness is a perfect tool for entrepreneurs and people who work from home, because we can take the information it gives us and modify our schedules accordingly – even in real time.
Here at Edgar, careful observation made us realize that deadlines were actually slowing down our productivity. So we stopped assigning deadlines, and started getting more done!
If you’re working on a creative task like sketching a proposal or thinking about a new product, a moment of mindfulness may help you realize when you’re just spinning your wheels.
Remind yourself that walking away (and taking a nap, or going for a walk, or listening to music) might be just what your project needs right now.
If you realize that sitting in the sun in the park is where your genius is most likely to kick in, you owe it to yourself to shut that laptop and get out that door.
You don’t have to wait for a special occasion to start being mindful, either. You can start practicing it right now.
(You get the idea.)
The important thing is not to overthink it!
We strongly believe that while planning has a place, doing is pretty important, too.
Being mindful adds flexibility and fluidity to your planning and scheduling processes in ways that setting a strict calendar might not – and the only way to find out is to try it!
Do you have tips about practicing mindfulness in the workday?
Any particular routines that have helped you find your entrepreneurial groove?
Let us know in the comments below!