In my quest the last few months to install some better habits in my life, one of the ones I’ve taken on recently is Mindfulness.
Now hold onto your pitchforks, I’m a pretty skeptical guy. So you won’t be finding me burning incense or chanting “ooom” every few seconds. I’m also not converting to any kind of religion anytime soon. What I am doing is looking into carving better neural pathways for productive and effective habits in my daily life.
Now I’m not a doctor, nor a scientist, in fact I barely passed high school, so I’m going off a handful of YouTube videos and internet articles here.
Ever drive a car to work and get there realizing you barely remember most of your trip? That’s because we’ve driven so much that we don’t really have to think about it anymore. The pathways in our brains are carved by doing things over and over. Like riding a bike, signing your name, driving a car.
One of the things I’ve been doing the last few months is using Brain.fm to fill my head with “focus” music while I write. It’s actually worked wonders, and I can personally attest to the effectivity of Brain.fm. Putting on headphones and firing up the music has been so effective the last few months for me that I already have a hard time writing without it. I’m carving out these pathways through daily habits that after work time is “when I write” and I write best when I have “focus” music in my ears. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t actually like writing in the mornings on the weekends, I prefer to work in the mid-afternoon, just like on the weekdays.
But writing itself isn’t the hard part, my difficulty is always in sitting down, and writing those first 100 words. Once I write 100, I can write a 1000. So I’ve been using mindfulness/meditation to focus my mind for 10 minutes before I start my writing.
I’m 10 days into it and I’m glad I started. While it’s not quite as effective as the Brain.fm has been for my writing, it does help significantly with one thing: separation from work.
I work in IT, day job, easily 9 hours a day, sometimes 10. It’s stressful, I rarely take lunch breaks, plus I work from home, so I pretty much work non-stop from the time I wake up till the day is done.
Then I need to somehow turn from my work desk (it’s a standing desk) to my writing desk about five feet away. I keep work and personal physically separate in my office. Only I need a way to separate mentally separate the two. So I’ve taken to getting a drink of water, and meditating for 10 minutes.
I’ve been using the Headspace app, which is free for the first 10 days. So far, it’s worked well in separating out the stresses of my day job and allowing me to clear my head prior to writing for an hour each afternoon. I highly recommend it, and I’ll be sure to report back in later once I’ve been doing this for longer.