Mindfulness Habits for a More Positive and Productive Work-Life
March 8, 2023
The other day I was driving my daughter to daycare on my way to work. As many mornings, I was in a rush to make sure I could make it to my office on time. On my drive from my house to daycare, I thought of all the numerous projects and meetings I had that day. I got to the daycare center, dropped off my daughter, and was quickly on my way to my parking garage. Soon enough, I was in my office and beginning to work.
My wife texted me sometime mid-morning asking how the daycare drop-off went—asking how our daughter seemed when I left her. She was sick the night before. I realized in all my hurry that I did not pay much attention to the mood our daughter was in when I left her. I wasn’t present during her drop-off.
Not being present is a common state for busy people, especially working professionals. Being caught up in work and home life's endless tasks and responsibilities makes it very easy to fall out of the moment. The good news is just a few simple mindfulness habits can enhance one’s ability to be present in day-to-day moments. Being mindful and present is especially important for busy professionals and leaders whose decision-making and actions impact numerous people.
So here are five mindful habits for a more positive and productive work-life:
1. Prioritize Sleep
Many people don’t prioritize sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation:
- Adults 18+ need 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
- Almost 1/2 of all Americans say they feel sleepy during the day between 3-7 days per week.
- 35.2% of all adults in the U.S. report sleeping on average for less than 7 hours per night.
Over a third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep at night. Getting enough sleep may seem impossible for some people, especially those with children. But for those staying up to watch more of a show or game, try being mindful of the time you could instead be using to rest your mind and body for the next day. The enjoyment or wind-down you think you are getting from staying up by choice can transfer to more enjoyable days when you are well-rested.
Additionally, it is important to reduce screen time before sleep. Many people watch TV right before going to bed or will even use their smartphones and computers in bed. This has been shown to be very harmful to one’s sleep quality. The blue light from the screens has been shown to increase alertness at night, which reduces REM sleep (restorative sleep) at night and negatively affects alertness the next morning.
By simply being mindful of avoiding screen time for 30 minutes before going to bed, you can greatly increase your quality of sleep to be more alert the next morning. This is helpful for being sharp for morning meetings and important for people who cannot get at least seven hours of sleep at night and need the best quality they can get during the limited time they have. This leads to the next mindful habit.
2. Reduce Screen Time
As most people are used to hearing by now, it’s good to reduce screen time. Yet, there is a certain amount of screentime most professionals and leaders will be unable to avoid—such as time spent on business communications, such as emails and Zoom meetings, and working on different projects of various digital forms. This is why it is important to be mindful of the screen time we are using during off-work hours. Thus, being mindful of how often you use different devices for leisure is especially important since this is the screen time professionals are the most capable of reducing.
3. Pay More Attention During Routines
Many people disassociate from the present when performing daily routines. A comment routine busy professionals often lose focus during is their daily work commutes. Whether taking a car, train, or plane, unless you have the luxury of working from home, you spend a lot of time commuting to and from work. On the way to work, it’s easy to start thinking about your workday. And on your way home, it’s easy to start thinking about your workday that just passed. In addition to the obvious safety benefits of being more present while driving, making an effort to pay more attention to the environment and people around you during your day, in general, is another mindful habit that can help keep your mind grounded.
So during your commute, morning meetings, or exercise routine, instead of going over mental lists or thinking about the past or future, really take in what's going on around you and what people are saying. If someone is joining you on your commute, talk with them. While in meetings, really focus on staying present in the conversations, even if they don’t specifically involve you. While at the gym, take in the people and environment around you instead of tuning everything out.
Remaining present during business conversations is crucial for being accurate with project details and priorities. Try to identify common routines you have during your day and work on staying present during them instead of going on autopilot and thinking about the past or future.
4. Make Daily Goals
Making daily lists of goals is a great mindful habit for self-management and staying productive. It’s hard to keep everything organized in your head. Making lists helps keep your day organized. Your daily list can include both work priorities and home responsibilities. Writing your daily goals out helps bring attention to the things you want to accomplish. You can then keep a record of your progress to hold yourself accountable. Keeping track of daily accomplishments helps you stay focused on the present day while keeping long-term goals progressing forward.
5. Be Present During Departures
We rarely know when it will be the last time we talk to someone. From people moving across the country, changing jobs or office locations, and sadly passing away, there are many reasons people depart from our day-to-day routines in life. Friendships fade, and colleagues move on, so it is important to take in and appreciate our relationships while we have them. This is why paying attention to goodbyes is a great mindful habit that will benefit you for the rest of your life. Taking an extra moment to be aware of departures, no matter how small, forces us to reflect on longevity. This balances our minds to focus on the present and be more mindful of our relationships. This practice keeps your attention on the things that matter most in life.
These are just a few simple habits that can enhance your mindfulness to be more present and self-aware. Doing so will enhance your life in countless ways, for both work and home. Now that you have a sense of the type of actions and habits that can help enhance mindfulness, think of some other ways to include mindfulness habits into your daily routine. The repetition of the mindfulness habit is important for keeping your mind focused on being present, so start small if needed.
For me, the learning is this: while on my way to drop my daughter off at daycare, I make sure to embrace the moment. I remind myself the time I will arrive at work is no longer in my control; the traffic will be what it is. Instead of thinking about my work day to come, I entertain my daughter. Talk to her and teach her about the buildings, landscapes, and people she sees out her window. As I leave her with her caretakers, I notice how she’s feeling and handling the moment. Sometimes she is upset to see me go. Taking an extra few moments to hug her before leaving makes a tremendous difference in how her day will go and will barely affect my arrival time to my office.
It is crucial for people to be mindful as they go about their day. It is easy to get wrapped up in the tasks and responsibilities of work and life and lose presence in the current moment. Including mindfulness habits in your day helps keep you grounded no matter how busy life gets. Like how the eye of the storm is calm while the world is chaotic surrounding you, mindfulness habits help center you from your own chaotic thoughts. Centering oneself is crucial for busy professionals and leaders to maintain high efficiency and productivity while balancing work-life responsibilities.
Businesses spend billions of dollars each year to help develop their leaders and employees to function with high efficiency and productivity. Learning and Development (L&D) programs often leverage personality assessments to help with improving team dynamics. For professionals and leaders seeking to increase their abilities in mindfulness, leveraging personality assessments is an excellent resource for enhancing self-awareness and personal reflection. Tilt365’s personality assessment, the True Tilt Personality Profile™ (TTP), is specifically designed to help busy professionals and leaders achieve a better sense of the hidden habits and default patterns that guide their decision-making.
The TTP assessment generates a full report on numerous intrinsic qualities that gives takers tangible information that allows them to make conscious changes to improve their behaviors, communication styles, and decision-making abilities that affects their relationships and team dynamics. By leveraging personality assessments like the True Tilt Personality Profile, professionals and leaders can become more mindful of their day-to-day interactions, which greatly determine the outcomes of their efforts and ability to live a more positive and productive life.