Have you ever had a conversation with a coworker who can’t seem to take their eyes off a screen?

There’s a motivational poster hanging on the wall across the office. Without looking, can you recall what it says?

Mindfulness is sometimes attributed to zen meditation, but it is so much more than that. Mindfulness in the workplace, put simply, is being present. Studies show that mindfulness helps boost your productivity, happiness, and work flow.

But no part of the phrase ‘being present’ is simple.

There are emails coming in that need to be addressed. There are orders that need to be fulfilled. You get a phone call while working on an important task and lose focus.

Many outside factors can create a sense of overwhelm in your day to day routine. That stress can really cut back on all those wonderful feelings above.

Here are some small mindfulness changes you can make in your everyday schedule that will help you achieve success.

Set Down Your Phone

Having a conversation with someone face to face? Put your phone away. Unless you are expecting a call, just leave it at your desk when you get up to talk.

Even sitting at your desk, turn your phone on silent or vibrate. Keeping the distractions to a minimum will help you stay focused on the task at hand.

Make a To-Do List

Every morning, I have a routine. I like to bullet journal so when I sit down at my desk, I first determine what things need to be done that I didn’t get to the previous day. Then, I determine what new tasks I need to accomplish. It is so rewarding to check off one of those tasks every time I complete it. I can also keep track of everything I’ve done in the past and take notes to stay up to date on certain items.

You don’t need to have a bullet journal for this to work. If you just want to keep track of your to-do list, a simple sheet of paper, sticky note, or (though I strongly suggest a paper version) the notes apps on your computer or phone will do the trick.

Create a Simple Trigger

Phantom vibrations – you think you have a notification but you don’t. I have this with that darn email ping that plays on my computer when I forget to turn the volume down. I hear it, or think I hear it, or even hear it from another office, and my gaze immediately separates from my task to look at my email screen.

Instead of letting this trigger consume me, I turned to a different strategy. Now, whenever I think I hear that ping of my phone, email, etc., I instead finish my task – be that writing a sentence, finishing an edit, completing a design segment, etc. – I take a breath and/or drink of water, and then look at the notification. I work in an environment that does not need my response in less than three seconds so this strategy works.

Some individuals also use triggers for other things. Try something as simple as taking three breaths before you sit down in your chair, or taking a second to stretch every time you stand up.

Lunch Break

Take one! That means actually get up out of your seat. Don’t sit at your desk all the time. Change your scenery and have a conversation. It’s amazing how that separation can revitalize you for the afternoon.

Meditate

No, mindfulness does not always mean you drop everything, sit quietly for 10 minutes, and stare into space.

Sometimes, though, that can be nice. Take a three minute break to stretch or breathe. Step away from your desk and walk around the office. Grab water and chat with an officemate (but make sure you aren’t interrupting their flow).

Let your mind wander for a bit and see where it takes you. On several occasions I have been “zoning out” when I suddenly come up with a solution or creative tactic to address a problem. Letting your mind wander and separate from yourself can be a great release.

Work in Increments

The pomodoro tracker is a great way to keep encouraged throughout the day. During the working time of 25 minutes, stay focused and on task. Once the timer goes off, take a few minutes of break. You can assign new tasks in the next work segment plus it will help you stay aware of what you need to accomplish.

Find Your Time

My prime time is 7:30am. Not everyone is in the office yet and I can have a few quiet minutes to get set up for the day. This is when I fill out my bullet journal, answer any emails or check if any updates have happened, and make any new changes to my day plan.

Some people get their best work done later in the day. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in a task I look up and it’s time to leave or go to lunch. It may vary based on your day to day tasks.

Finding what works for you will help you be present in your work and be more productive. Not all of these tips will work for you while some might be just what you need. One small change might make the biggest difference in your productivity.

Remember, mindfulness and awareness don’t have to be a huge project. Focus on your next conversation. On the next trip you take to the water fountain, look around and try to find something you haven’t noticed before. Actually take a trip to the water fountain. Go to the bathroom on a different floor.

Be present in today and see what it does for you. And if you find something that works for you, let us know in the comments below. Your tip might help someone else.

-Laura