Using mindfulness to make time
Do you ever feel like your mind is a computer browser with 100 tabs open all at once? You flick through them, a million thoughts swirling around your mind, pulling you down through different ideas, stories, memories, and possibilities. Let me teach you some tools to create a day that's both productive and fun.
You sit down to complete your tasks for the day, but end up scrolling through the virtual tabs in your mind, as well as the real ones that sit in front of you on your computer screen.
This is, without a doubt, an extremely ineffective way to use your time.
We all have 24 hours in each day. But how we approach those hours can have very different results.
You could have a day that feels peaceful, full of flow, and accomplishment. Or you can have one that feels hectic and full of struggle, with a to-do list that gets longer instead of shorter.
Using mindfulness to become time-smart can, and will, make your life more flow than push.
The key to being effective with your time is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the act of being fully absorbed in the present moment. It means focusing your mind entirely on what is in front of you, rather than thinking about the past or projecting possible scenarios into the future.
When you bring mindfulness into your day, your productivity soars. Tasks become easier and more enjoyable.
Becoming mindful is a practice; it doesn’t happen overnight. Every day you will get better at it. Every day you will get closer to making it a natural habit.
Here are three tips to help you get going. They are simple, and very powerful, which means you will see results quickly.
1. Embrace anchoring
In 2011, I studied yoga teacher training in a beautiful studio in Melbourne. I was at that studio at least 3 times a week, and every time I walked through the door I was instantly greeted with the beautiful aroma of lemongrass.
The teachers at that studio had an oil burner on the desk at reception. It became such a familiar smell that eventually as soon as I walked through the studio door and smelt it, I would become deeply relaxed, and in the zone for practicing and learning about yoga.
The smell triggered a memory in me, reminding me of how this studio made me feel. And I would be transported to that state, that feeling, without having done any yoga at all yet.
This is a form of anchoring. Specifically, aromatic anchoring.
Anchoring is a technique that utilises the power of repetition. Your brain becomes trained to associate a certain aroma (or place, or movement, or image) to a particular activity or feeling.
You can use anchoring not only to get your brain in an optimal state for work, but also to create a clear definition between work time and home time.
Essential oils are optimal to use for this because our sense of smell has a particularly strong association with memory. Simply choose a scent, and use a cold-water diffuser to diffuse that oil either when you want to switch on for work, or switch off for home.
2. Focus on your relaxation
In 2007 I was in the depths of a blood-sugar imbalance called hypoglycemia. Part of the illness was being in a constant state of “fight-or-flight” mode. This is where your mind and body believes it is under threat, so it produces hormones to appropriately deal with the situation. Specifically, stress hormones.
This is all good and well when there is a real threat. But when it is a chronic day-to-day existence, this backfires.
When you release stress hormones, your mind actually perceives time as going too fast. Imagine if you were a cave man/woman and you were cornered by a tiger. It makes sense for your brain to signal to you that you need to act quickly! When a fight-or-flight mode is justified, you really don’t have much time to spend on thinking.
But, again, when it is not justified and exists on a day-to-day basis, an anxiety can arise due to this sensation of lack of time.
So, you can imagine, when you have a to-do list to get through, and you are in a constant state of stress, then you are going to be feeling overwhelmed and snowed under.
When your hormones are balanced, and you are calm and relaxed, your perception of the speed of time softens.
So focusing on relaxation can, in a sense, give you more time! Your day feels more spacious.
There are so many ways you can help your body get into a relaxed state:
- Eating whole foods
- Breathing techniques
- Taking walks in nature
- Luxurious baths
- Positive self-talk
All these beautiful things will help you stay in a relaxed state.
3. Be here, now
One of the easiest ways to stop the chattering mind is to come fully back into the present moment.
Being present is about being in the current moment. You aren’t thinking about the past, or projecting into the future. You are in this moment fully.
A simple but highly effective way to ground yourself in the here and now is by listening to all of your senses.
Tune in to your senses
Take a couple of minutes to run through your senses.
- What can you see? Look around and use your eyes to absorb everything. Try not to label things, or reminisce, or think about what you will use them for. Try not to attach a story around the objects in front of you. Simply notice them. Observe them without thought or attachment.
If your mind does start to create a story in your head, don’t worry. It’s OK. Just gently let the thinking go and come back to simply observing.
- Next, use your ears. What can you hear? Don’t think about what you should be hearing. What is actually in this space, at this moment? Again, try not to start a story in your mind around what you can hear. Just notice it.
- Run through the rest of your senses. What can you feel? Use your whole body for this one. What does the floor feel like beneath your feet? Are you sitting on something? Bring your attention to the place where you and the chair meet. What does that feel like?
- What can you taste? Maybe you have just eaten? Maybe slightly bitter? Sweet? What can you smell? Perhaps an aromatic anchor that you have chosen. Or maybe nothing at all.
Once you have run through all of your senses, you will be feeling much more present and alert. Your mind will be clear and focused. From this space you can continue to do what you need to do from a much more mindful place.
What thought are you having right now? Your thoughts determine your emotions. You feel what you are thinking. Try it right now. Remember a time that caused you some pain. Really think about it (sorry – but it’s worth it for the understanding). How do you feel? Now remember a time that made you really happy. Think about the scenario and notice what emotion it brings. Now, you notice that the scenario isn’t ACTUALLY happening. It’s just your thoughts. Your thoughts determine your emotions. How you feel. So, I ask you again. What are you thinking about right now? ❤️
We all have 24 hours in each day. Yes, our days look very different. Perhaps yours is full of meetings, coffee dates, and admin work, whilst mine is full of parenting, juggling two businesses, and an endless array of housework.
How we choose to use those hours is completely up to us. Put two different people side by side, each with the exact same amount of tasks, and they could approach it completely differently. At the end of the day one may feel light, accomplished, relaxed, and at ease. The other might feel frazzled, having barely scratched the surface of what they needed to get done.
You will get more done, at a much higher standard, in a less stressful way if you approach your day with mindfulness.
So close all those tabs in your mind and start living from a place of presence and real-time awareness. Then relax, and watch the quality of your day improve dramatically.
Guest author: Jasmine is an energy healer, nutrition coach and yogi. She works with clients to help them feel fully themselves in mind and body, using low-toxin living and bioindividuality to create tailored plans to help each person reach their goals. Check out Jasmine’s site.