“I really want to be more mindful, but it’s just so hard to find time for it.”
Does that sound familiar?
Feeling “too busy” prevents people from doing new things all the time.
Humans inflate the negative consequences of losing things they already have. Which makes it tough to re-prioritize your time to create new habits.
This is especially difficult if you have a type-A, career-driven personality.
Every day is chock-full of meetings, deadlines, and important tasks! How could you ever take 20 minutes to just sit and breathe? It feels completely out of reach.
With that approach, mindfulness falls into the category of “things I don’t have time for”.
Which sets you up for a downward spiral. A self-fulfilling prophecy of stress and anxiety.
Get stressed —> Avoid cultivating space with mindful breaks —> Stay stressed —> Repeat
Fortunately, there’s a simple way to be more mindful while maintaining your existing habits.
You don’t need to take time away from your current activities to live more mindfully.
Yes, you read that right! You can increase the amount of mindful moments in your life without changing anything about your schedule or morning routine.
“But…how is that possible?”
Mindfulness is a State of Mind
Mindfulness isn’t an activity that you do. It’s a state of mind.
When you do something mindfully, you’re fully present in the moment. You aren’t thinking about the past or the future. Instead, you place your attention and awareness on whatever you’re experiencing at that time.
Many people make a simple mistake when learning about mindfulness. They characterize it as a set of activities: “Mindfulness is when you do yoga, or meditate, or journal…”
You wouldn’t be wrong to define yoga and journaling as mindfully oriented activities. In fact, both are a part of my mindfulness practice!
But they’re only a few of the countless ways to cultivate mindfulness–merely the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface!
The Iceberg Method: How to Hack Your Routine to Create More Mindful Moments
The Iceberg Method works in three steps:
- First, expand your view of what’s considered a “mindful activity”
- Second, find new opportunities to be mindful that you previously overlooked
- Third, queue more mindful moments with physical reminders
1. Recalibrate Your Definition of Mindful Activities
Think about mindfulness as an iceberg. The ice represents all the opportunities to create more mindful presence in your life.
Activities like meditation and yoga are the tip of the iceberg. They’re the clearly visible manifestations of a mindfulness practice in everyday life.
What’s “beneath the water”?
It’s the rest of your day!
Here’s what I mean by that…
You can create mindful moments at any point in the day. Usually this means focusing on your breath, or paying specific attention to your senses.
Every moment of every day is an opportunity to be mindful.
Which doesn’t mean you need to be mindful and aware every second of every day. But it does give you the chance to cultivate mindfulness more often than you do now.
If you haven’t thought of mindfulness in this way before, you probably didn’t realize the countless opportunities for mindfulness that already exist in your routine!
You don’t need to set aside extra time to meditate to be mindful. (Although it does help, and I highly recommend it.)
And you don’t need perfect conditions to be mindful. You just need to remember to pay attention!
When mindfulness is an always-available state of mind, the hardest part isn’t having time, it’s remembering to do it!
With the Iceberg Method, you can define new opportunities to be mindful that you previously overlooked. Repurpose everyday moments into mindful breaks and start building your mindfulness practice!
2. Define Opportunities to be Mindful in Your Daily Routine that Won’t Take Extra Time
Everyone has different routines. So it doesn’t really matter what parts of your day you pick for mindful breaks.
The important thing is that you create these mindful moments every day!
Here are 12 everyday moments I’ve used as opportunities to be mindful.
- While washing your hands…focus on the temperature and sensation of the water, soap, and towel on your hands.
- While eating food…focus on the taste, texture, and temperature of the food as you eat it. Notice how the flavors change as you eat.
- While moving/exercising…focus on your breath, and the sensation of the muscles you’re using.
- While drinking water…focus on the temperature, and the feeling of the water as it moves into your mouth and down your throat.
- While cooking…observe how the food reacts to heat, and changes form over time. Focus on the smells of the food and seasonings.
- While getting dressed…notice how the various fabrics feel on your body as you put them on.
- While cleaning…notice how the surface changes as you clean it. Focus on the patterns of your movement as you scrub or wipe.
- While showering…focus on the temperature and sensation of the water and soap against your skin.
- While outside in weather (wind, rain, snow…)…notice how the shifts in weather feel against your clothes and skin. Observe how your environment changes.
- While waiting…pay attention to your breathing. Take slow, deep breaths in and out through your nose.
- While writing…focus on the sensation of your pen against the paper. Notice how the ink dries on the page.
- While on the bus…close your eyes and listen. Notice the loud sounds around you. Then, try to find the quietest noise you can hear.
Think back to them in the coming days to create mindful moments throughout your day. (Or tailor the method to your habits with the free worksheet.)
3. Use Physical Reminders to Queue Mindful Moments
To make this habit easier, try using physical reminders as a way to queue yourself to be mindful.
I do this with my gratitude journal by leaving it on my bed every night. That way, I’m guaranteed to remember to write in it before falling asleep.
A few ways to do this:
- Leave notes for yourself
You can put simple notes like “Breathe”, or “Accept”, or “Present” around your house where you know you’ll see them. The worksheets for this article have a full list of reminder words you can cut out. Place them where you know you’ll bump into them!
- Write on your hand/arm
Just a small dot, letter, or short word will do the trick. (Or, repurpose the classic “rubber band around your wrist” reminder.)
- Put a “marker” on a high-use object
Use a permanent marker to make a mark of some kind on your toothbrush, or deodorant stick. Or put a sticker on your phone case. Make it visible, and put it on something you use every day!
Anytime you notice one of these markers, take a deep breath, and use it as an opportunity to create a mindful moment.
Start Creating More Mindful Moments
Building this new mindful moments habit will take time. But soon enough, you’ll find yourself spending more time in mindful presence.
You’ll start to recognize how beneficial these simple everyday moments can be!
Remember the iceberg, and you’ll never have too little time for mindfulness!
PS: Click here to download The Iceberg Method Worksheets and start hacking your routine for more mindful moments.
Based in Chicago, IL, Patrick Buggy is a coach and writer at MindfulAmbition.net, where he shares mindful strategies to help you live your best life. To start every week on the right foot, join the free newsletter: Mindful Monday Mornings.