Think you need to set aside a huge chunk of time to be mindful? Think again! You can practice mindfulness wherever you are, regardless of what you are doing. Amidst all your emails, phone calls and meetings, applying a few basic principles of mindfulness can help you feel more alive and present, as well as more productive at work.

According to UC Berkeley's Greater Good Project, being mindful means to maintain, “...a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.”  It is a mindset that can enhance focus and awareness by stripping away distractions, allowing you to stay on track.

The benefits of mindfulness are numerous including stress-reduction, increased mental clarity, improved complex problem-solving and decision-making, improved mood regulation, increased emotional intelligence, immune system enhancement, better mood regulation, increased energy, and improved memory and attention skills.

Mindfulness allows you to switch from being on “autopilot,” to being fully aware of what is going on around you and what is going on inside you. “Even one minute of consciously connecting with one of your senses can be classified as a mindful exercise,” says mindful author, Shamash Alidina. Small slots in your day can serve as the perfect time to practice mindfulness exercises. Here are a few ways you can stay present, focused and mindful at work:

  • At the beginning of your workday, pause and set your intention to practice mindfulness.

  • Each time your mind wanders to different things, acknowledge your thoughts and bring your attention back to your main task.

  • Connect with all five of your senses.

  • Give your full attention to all tasks, even if they seem meaningless, like washing your hands or opening doors.

  • Engage in short, guided meditations.

  • Do deep breathing exercises.

  • Close your eyes for a minute or so and try quieting your mind.

  • Do a body scan and release any tension you may feel.

  • Do a few stretches.

  • Go for a walk outside.

  • Be a single-tasker instead of a multi-tasker.

  • Express gratitude and look for the positive things in your day.

If you have trouble inserting some of these practices into your day, set reminders for yourself. This could mean setting an alarm on your phone, putting a sticky note on your computer or setting an appointment with yourself on your calendar. These reminders can shake you out of autopilot or day-dreaming mode. Over time, you will no longer need the reminders as these practices will become part of your lifestyle.

Want to find out how mindful you are? Take this quiz by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Project.