21 Days to Mindfulness: How It Works and the Tools to Get Started

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Maybe you’ve tried some meditation, or you avidly read books on the subject of mindfulness. These practices leave you with an incredible sense of inspiration, but I’m going to challenge you to take that a step further so you can REALLY keep that feeling going all day long. Reading a book or a quote isn’t enough. You are a work in progress and the mind needs exercise just like the body.

With effort, come all attainments.

I do believe the power in this statement. I guarantee that you will see a difference in your day; how you interact with your work colleagues, your family and even strangers. Cultivating this special practice allows you to literally “watch your mind.” You’ll  actually start to catch yourself when you’re about to react out of anger or impatience instead of subconsciously allowing these reactions to arise.

So How Does the Mindfulness Challenge Work?

Step #1:

Reflection Topic: Each day of the Challenge I will post a topic and discuss ways that you can generate a strong feeling in your mind and how it relates to your life.

Step #2:

Actual Reflection: I will provide “Action Cards” that you can either print out or view on screen. These cards all have a special task that you must complete each day. The task is designed to help you keep your daily determination The cards are used to help you stay on track and remind you about your intention all day long.

Step #3:

Daily Determination: After each reflection I will pose a question which you can ask yourself. This will serve as a reminder about the reflection so you can carry this throughout your day and to help renew your intention.

The Tools

Don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging! For starters, here are a few tools that that I love and use each day:

Evernote: Save and view your Action Cards right in this awesome app! I absolutely love Evernote and use it daily. As soon as a thought arises, you can make a note or record audio right on the spot! The beauty of this app is that it syncs, so if you take a note on your phone, you can view your notes on any desktop computer later because it’s totally web-based.

Insight Timer: This is a must-have app. You can download it here. You can get the free or paid version. If find this to be a perfect companion for my own personal practice. You can set any duration you want for reflection, and even make a little chime at the beginning and end of your session. You can also connect with others who may be engaging in meditation the same time you are.

Tips for Daily Success:

  • Keep the Action Cards handy: Bookmark your cards so you can easily refer to them. This website is created using a “Responsive Design” which means you can view these pages on any device and the pages adjust accordingly.
  • Create reminders: Set an alarm on your phone every couple of hours to remind you of your daily intention.
  • Remove distractions: Set aside time that makes the most sense. Early morning before anyone is awake, or in the evening after the kids are in bed.
  • Prepare in advance: If you plan on engaging in your practice first thing in the morning before work, make sure you have everything ready for your day ahead so you can reduce the time needed to get ready. Check out the Morning Launch to see how I do it.

The Benefits

Here’s my short list which might convince you to get moving on the mindfulness train.

You will experience:

  • more happiness
  • more concentration
  • more patience
  • more contentment

As you move through this practice, it will get easier– I promise. Just hang tight for the first few days. It takes time and effort to build a good habit! It just does not happen by osmosis. You’ve got to work it!

Cultivating mindfulness is a journey, which I believe lasts a lifetime and it can be a joyful one if you open up your mind and  heart!

Click here to experience each of the 21 daily reflections for yourself!

You Can Do Anything Using the 15-Minute Mentality

When it comes to fitting multiple activities into your morning routine, you can accomplish many things in the course of your day using the 15-minute mentality. Imagine you could only get three major things done, what will those be?

Use the 15-minute mentality!

Schedule It

If there are multiple things that you really want to do, then add them to a calendar. Maybe it seems funny to add personal activities to your schedule, but I see no reason NOT to since we have hectic day jobs. When we get home, we’re lucky if there’s three hours of solid time at night, and then three hours of solid time in the morning before work. If you identify this time, you may uncover 30 hours of time, Monday through Friday that you could CHOOSE to use any way that you want to.That’s a part-time job! Just imagine what you could get done.

No Excuses. After you schedule in a task. When that time is up, move on. If you find yourself still wanting to continue a particular activity, or find that 15 minutes for the task just doesn’t make sense, this is a great time to ask yourself– maybe I should simplify?

Calculate Your Available Time

Take a look at all of the things that you’d like to accomplish. Ask yourself the question– What kind of impact if any will this activity have on my day? Can I do this tomorrow instead? Is this an “A” task or “B” task. If it’s a B, there’s always tomorrow!

Try this little exercise:
  1. Write down how many waking hours you have available each day which are free and clear of the time you spend at your day or “street job.”
  2. List all the things you would like to accomplish in this time. Don’t hold yourself back, write down what you dream about too!
  3. Now go back and organize the list and designate as follows:
  • A Items: Absolutely Important
  • B Items: Important, but not crucial
  • C Items: Can wait — place on the “wish list”
  • D Items: Dump

Do you you plan your day in short time increments? What works for you? If there’s something you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

Just Start–Tips for Planning Your Day

Just Start- Tips for Planning Your Day

I was recently given a big project. I really want to make things happen and I have so many ideas, but the hard part is figuring out which task is the biggest priority. If you can identify first things first, then you’re that much closer to success. (A little deep breathing and yoga helps too!)

It’s great to take those notes, but there comes a time when you need to put them into some sort of cohesive order that allows you to start taking action, and “ship it” as author and marketing expert Seth Godin suggests. Make it a plan to take action on something every day. If you keep the pipeline full, you’ll always see results.

From Analysis Comes Paralysis

Yes, I know there’s so much to do; you’re excited and have so many ideas and you take a multitude of notes, but too much organizing can have the opposite effect–you don’t take action. Here’s my example–this blog. I’ve been caught up with planning pages, fancy graphics and sidebars and wanting everything to be perfect, but here’s the plain truth– “from too much analysis comes paralysis.” Some blog authors have been known to challenge the perfection principle by adding in a typo or two into a blog post on purpose. Now that’s pretty daring, but seriously– someday we’re all going to pass from this world and no one will give a heap about a silly typo. This practice certainly can put things into perspective. I just might give it a try. (someday)

Create the Roadmap

  1. Write down the most important things that you need to accomplish today.
  2. Number tasks in order of importance— use something that business guru Brian Tracy calls the “ABC Method” in his book Eat that Frog.
  3. Identify the biggest tasks— The “A” items are the biggest “frogs” and those must be “eaten” first. If you get those big tasks out of the way first, the rest of your day will be much easier. I try very hard to ask myself the question– what is the most important thing that if I started now would have the biggest impact on my day? That’s the task to begin with.
  4. Set the stage for the tomorrow–At the end of the day, move the remaining times to the next day and spend 10-15 minutes determining what your biggest tasks are, and repeat these steps.

Try to avoid the “busy work” syndrome. Indulging in frivolous email or low-level tasks can make us think we are accomplishing things, when in fact this is not the case. Start with the big tasks at the time of day when you have the most focus, and save the low-level tasks for the time of day when you’re not as focused.

If you can manage to figure out your priority items, you’ll be so much more focused and centered throughout the day. The feeling of spinning your wheels only to find you’ve accomplished nothing of importance is frustrating and creates even more stress. If you plan ahead, you’ll never have any emergencies and missed deadlines! Also, you’ll find that you’ll be able to accomplish so much more in one given day just for taking those 10 to 15 minutes at the end of each work day to plan for the  next.
Plan for Tomorrow Now
  1. Create an “idea bucket” or journal to dump all of your ideas. This helps free your mind because this is a place that you can relieve yourself of all those ideas that pop into your head. You can revisit them later when you plan your next day or week.
  2. Write out two major goals that you wish to complete in the coming week.
  3. Plan your week- add priority items, then sprinkle in items from your “idea bucket.”
  4. Identify low-level, administrative tasks– this is where an assistant is crucial. Do not spend any time on low-priority items!

21 Days to Mindfulness Challenge – Make Mindfulness a Daily Habit

Take the 21-Day Challenge!

Not too long ago, I took part in a 21 Days to Mindfulness Challenge with a group of friends. The idea was to commit to a specific reflection each day for a total of 21 days. Every day we would check in with each other in order to stay accountable. It was s such a great way to stay connected to like-minded friends all trying to reach the same goal. The Challenge was such a success, and in just 21 days we had created some great new habits that became effortless because we were constantly reinforcing them every day. Not only were these new good habits, but the act of being mindful and aware in the present moment became spontaneous.  To keep the momentum going, I created another challenge that you can start at any time. This is a great way to jump-start a new mindfulness practice, or renew one already in place.

Is it Possible to Create Mindfulness Each Day? 

Short answer– yes. Long answer– I’m a firm believer in the saying “fake it ’til you make it,” because each day that you apply continuous effort toward your goal, eventually it will be become a reality. Case in point–creating happiness. You might not be happy with your life, your job or a given situation, but you can play the part. What I mean by that is, just keep going. Keep a smiling face. Apply the strategies that I show you, even if you can only do them for two minutes. Try your best to have a positive attitude RIGHT NOW.

2012-06-03 16.33.22That faux smile will eventually become a genuine heart-felt smile. Trust me, this works. What do you have to lose? Just your unhappiness.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a state-of-mind that allows you to fully experience the present moment. It enables you to see a given situation how it really is while you gain a deep sense of peace. Mindfulness can be achieved in a few ways– through contemplation on a specific object, such as one of the topics covered in this Challenge. Then, engaging in meditation after contemplation. These are proven methods, but the only way to know if they work is to try them for yourself.

I hope you’ll join me on this exciting journey. All you need to do is click here to get started!