Niklaus Gerber

September 20, 2022

Two mindfulness habits worth adopting: Small changes that help you to be more intentional.

I have been practising mindfulness for over five years now. I started with daily meditations to become calmer and more focused. But mindfulness and being mindful go much further than some lifestyle benefits. Being aware means realising specific things about the nature of your mind and being changed by these discoveries. Then the point is to integrate these new ways of seeing and being with a growing commitment to make the world better than yesterday. There are two little exercises I would recommend starting to do right away and making them a habit.

The first habit is becoming more intentional about what you are doing. Without going into the analysis of why multi-tasking is just degrading the overall quality of your work and why task switching comes with a lot of costs, this new habit can help you become more focused. If you set it out to do something, be fully present. It does not matter if you check your emails, wash the dishes, or write a master's thesis. Be intentional about it, give it your complete focus and bring back your attention whenever you want to switch to doing something else. It is about enjoying every moment spent on what you are doing. It is about truly living the moment. It is a lot of fun to play and experiment with it. If you want to go down the YouTube video rabbit hole or do some mindless feed scrolling, do it - but do it with the same intention and focus as you would writing a vital work mail. The more you practice being intentional about any moment of your life, the easier it becomes to keep your focus.

The second habit is based on a concept of mindfulness that significantly impacted me. It is about understanding that you can always start again. You wanted to write a project proposal but got distracted by an incoming email? Or you wanted to go for a walk but still sit on the couch? You tried to read the first chapter of a book, but you are scrolling Instagram? You just snapped at your spouse?

Start again. You always have that option. It is about pausing, noticing what happened, and resetting and restarting.

You can close your mail client and write, start writing that proposal, get up from the couch and put on your shoes and jacket, open that book, or take a deep breath and apologise to your spouse and ask her if you can start again. This might all sound too simple to mundane, but please try it. It had a noticeable impact on how I operate, and as with every habit you form, it gets easier every day.

About Niklaus Gerber

My thoughts on leadership, life, productivity, design, and innovation.