How to be a more mindful freelancer
Oh dear. It’s been almost a month since a Sheelance post was published. My bad. I’ve been busy, you see. Moving house, building my business, networking, starting dragon boat racing, acting in a short film, taking acting classes, seeing friends, cooking meals, paying bills, scooting around town…so when it came to writing posts for Sheelance, my first response was ‘ain’t nobody got time for dat!’
We only have a set number of hours each day to get things done. That much is true. It’s probably the most predictable part of life – that (as far as we know) the sun will rise, the sun will set and another day will be done.
Problem is, I’ve been doing all of these exciting things, and not really feeling 100% present. With a full schedule comes the worry of getting everything done. When catching up with friends – whom I hadn’t seen in a long, long time – I’d be thinking about my next appointment. When eating breakfast, I’d be shoveling down great big gulps of food so that I could get back to my desk to finish a project. Rush, rush, rush. Stress, stress, stress.
Thankfully, a client recently asked me to write an article about mindfulness. Living in the present. Savouring the moment. While researching the article, I was tweeting, sending a text, talking to my partner and filing receipts. But as I read reports on mindfulness, its many health benefits and why we all need to slowwww dowwwwwn, I did just that. I stopped. I focused. I was mindful.
Why Be Mindful?
When you focus on just one thing at a time, your awareness increases and you actually enjoy the task more. Even something as boring as doing the dishes becomes a sensory experience when you do it slowly and deliberately. Watch the detergent suds bubble as the water rises. Slowly circle the cloth around the dish and see is start to sparkle. Feel the warm water on your skin. That’s being mindful.
There are stacks of studies on the benefits of mindfulness. Most can be summed up to say that the more you focus on the present moment, the ‘now’, the more fulfilled your life becomes. Your relationships strengthen, because you’re actually listening to your friend rather than checking Facebook or thinking about your next task. Your work improves, as you become more invested in the project and make less mistakes. You may even find you eat less, when you savour each mouthful and eat more deliberately.
How to Be Mindful
Mindfulness sounds easy. Do one thing at a time, focus all of your attention on it and do it slowwwwwwly. Tick. But it can be a tricky thing to master. Your mind will want to wander, your phone will demand to be answered, something will distract you.
So the best way to be mindful is to practice. You can start right now. Sit in your chair and just listen to all the sounds around you. Appreciate the moment and let yourself indulge in silence. Do this for 5 or 10 minutes a day and you’ll soon be a mindfulness master.
Try it while eating. Take a bite, slowly chew and focus on your food. Experience its texture, its taste, its smell.
Try it while driving. Just drive. Focus entirely on the road. Turn off the radio and your phone.
Try it while working. Close tabs, stop tweeting, shut off your emails. Do the task.
And if you can, schedule a buffer between appointments. Add a little ‘breathing space’ before and after tasks. This will allow you to take more time and enjoy the moment before launching into the next thing.
Mindfulness is something I need to work on. Are you with me?