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Author: Ginni Saraswati

Group Text Messaging: Productive or Annoying?


Trying to make plans with a group of people can be challenging. Obviously, everyone has their own schedule and it can be hard to coordinate a mutually convenient time for all of you to meet up.

Many of us turn to group text messaging as a quicker alternative to group email. However, receiving text messages in a particular thread or conversation with one or a group of people can quite simply be annoying — especially if you keep getting notifications within that thread!

Silence Your Notifications

The good news: It’s possible to silence or turn off notifications within that thread and still receive notifications for all of your other text messages.

On an iOS platform, for example, you can go into your messages app, slide the group message (or any text message) to the left, and hit “hide alerts.” If people send more messages in that thread, you won’t get notified and your phone won’t make a sound or pop up a little summary of the message. You will still receive other messages, however.

To be clear, this doesn’t block the thread.

Anytime you go into the messages app, they will all be there. This is just meant to stop notifications so you’re not bothered by them. I find this very helpful for group threads in particular — especially when they involve three or more people.

Exercise Some Control

Here’s a scenario from my personal experience: When I’m trying to schedule dinner with five people and messages are being sent back and forth about unrelated topics, I will often hide alerts or silence notifications from that thread once the dinner has been scheduled. This way, my phone doesn’t beep every time someone posts an emoji or says one word.

To catch up on all these messages, I set time aside once a day so I can scroll through the ones I’ve missed without interruptions or distractions from my phone.

You can think of this like a targeted version of Do Not Disturb — you can turn it back on when you don’t mind getting these notifications and are ready to engage.

This is the kind of feature that gives you significant power over when, how, and by whom you are interrupted. It also helps you exercise some conscious control over who gets to grab your attention and why.

The Mind Can Also Follow the Body


As mindfulness in the West is picking up and taking off as a popular movement, I’m getting the feeling that
many people are being introduced to it as a purely intellectual and mental practice. After all, the word “mind” is in mindfulness.

However, there are different ways to achieve a state of mindfulness that can be accessed beyond your mind
. The key is also moving and training your body.

Mind-Focused Learning

Education here in the U.S. is obviously very focused on training the mind. In my experience from kindergarten through high school, almost all the teachings were about training your mind in some way. There was one period of Physical Education a day, and it was taught separately from everything else rather than integrated into other courses.

Our energy and focus were all put into training our minds and learning things intellectually. Even feelings of assertiveness and confidence were trained to revolve around the mind. 

Intellectual competence can certainly result in positive bodily effects like feeling relaxed. There’s definitely some truth to the assumption or belief that the body will follow the mind. When you focus your attention and energy on training your mind, the bodily effects will follow.

That was by and large how I learned: You focused on your mind, but exercise and training your body were completely different disciplines.

A Different Perspective

However, I’ve learned through martial arts that the mind can also follow the body.  I’ve studied a few different martial arts and remember one lesson in particular during which one of my teachers was taking us through an exercise. He started to become frustrated with us because we weren’t conveying or expressing an assertive attitude. He felt like we were holding back or not really putting 100 percent of our energy and intention into each attack.  

At one point, he said, “If you’re having trouble getting that assertive intention and 100 percent focus on the attack — that mental aspect of it — before you start, bend your front knee forward.”

Normally, as you start to move forward, you would bend that front knee to shift your weight forward as if you’re almost leaning forward to prepare yourself for an attack. Priming your body in that position will help induce the mental state of assertiveness needed to carry out the attack.

Then the teacher said, “The mind follows the body.”

I remember being confused for a while. What does bending your knee have to do with feeling mentally assertive? I spent a lot of time just stewing on it. I think it’s something I’m still trying to integrate myself, but I have come to basically understand that the mind can follow the body just as the body can follow the mind.

Striking the Right Balance

In our culture, our body is often ignored and looked down upon. There’s a very strong overemphasis on the mental and intellectual to the detriment of the body.

Martial arts differ from this tack by taking an outside-to-inside approach with the body and mind. The instructor teaches you to train your body and learn the physical techniques, and as you start to become more proficient, you advance through the ranks. The teacher then shows you how to bring your mind into the practice. At first, very little attention is paid to the mind or even understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing. Focus on the physical, and then turn your attention inward.

When I regularly practiced meditation, I found that a sitting meditation involved the inverse order.

To me, both perspectives feel very valuable. I train both the body and mind.  I’m concerned that people are learning one way and not even considering how the body relates to it all. Balance is crucial: The mind can follow the body too.

Responding, Not Reacting to Your Smartphone


Have you ever watched a tennis sequence in which a player serves and the receiver runs in reaction to the serve and then hits the ball back off balance? Throughout the exchange, the server stands firm and it seems like they’re dictating where and when the receiver moves. 

Do you ever feel like that with your smartphone? Are you the receiver and is your smartphone the server?

You’re woken up every day by an alarm on your phone, and from that moment on, you may feel like you’re frantically reacting to it. We’ve all been there and know the feeling.

You can see it in many if not all competitive sports: One side appears to be in control of the flow and is doing what it wants while the other side is just barely keeping up and trying to react. It’s prevalent in many human interactions as well. I see it frequently in negotiations, with one party taking the lead and making the first strong offer while the other party just reacts.

When you’re on the receiving end and feel a lack of control, it’s obviously not enjoyable. It can almost feel like you’re a puppet for the other party, and even if you’re ultimately deciding how you’re reacting to them, you’re still reacting in some way.

In terms of mindfulness, it’s certainly a situation in which you are not acting based on your own intention or self-direction.

Apply Some Mindfulness

There is hope, though. We don’t have to be this way — with our smartphone, in sports, or in negotiations. In all of these scenarios, there are strategies that have been developed for learning how not to react or how to break out of that cycle.

The first suggestion is a very general and personal one. If you feel like you’re often out of control, reacting to your smartphone, and your habits are mindless, apply some mindfulness. You may actually want to sit down and meditate or think about your life in general. Ask yourself if there are particular situations in which you regularly feel grounded, in control, able to set your intention and consistently act according to it, and not reactive to technology or people.

We are all complicated beings. Sometimes, we can be very grounded, self-directed, and have the initiative in one context (ex. at work) but not in another (ex. with our family). It’s very common for people to not be reactive with close family members.

Think carefully about your life and I bet that you will find at least one context in which you do have skill, wisdom, and the ability to not be reactive. This is not something you’re going to figure out in one sitting, but asking yourself, “What is it about me in that context that has enabled me to be non-reactive?” would be beneficial.

Transfer Your Skills

The goal is to learn about yourself in one context and then try to see the parallels in another. In this case, can you try to apply those same kinds of habits or skills in connection with your use of technology?

I’ll leave you with two final tips:

1. You may find it easier to transfer over skills to the smartphone context from one in which you had to consciously practice and learn how to be grounded, focused, and not reactive.  If you are naturally a good negotiator but find it hard to negotiate with your family, it may be harder for you to transfer that natural talent because you may not be conscious of how or why you are effective. It might take more effort to understand the how and why.

2. Start practicing whatever you think may be useful from the one context in which you’ve been successful, happy, and self-directed. Then you can develop some ideas for how you can apply that practice to your smartphone use. See if it works. Don’t expect it to work immediately or give up too quickly. Practice every day or throughout the day.

By following these pointers, you can identify and leverage the skills needed to wrestle control back from your phone.

You Use Technology More Mindfully Than I Do


Since I write and teach about using technology mindfully, many people assume that I’m somehow naturally gifted at that practice.  They believe I’m always focused at work and never struggle with distractions when I should be doing something more productive.

In fact, when I tell people about my work in this field, they get embarrassed and think I will look down on them because of how poorly or distractedly they use technology.

I’m in the Same Boat

What I tell them is that I’m just as prone to mindlessly using technology as anybody else. I suspect making positive and healthy use of technology is even more challenging for me — and that’s why I’ve become so obsessed with this topic.

If it came easily and naturally to me, I probably wouldn’t be focused on it at all because I wouldn’t realize the need for improvement.

This reminds me of the founder of one of the karate styles I study. He was a pretty weak, sickly child. It isn’t hard to understand why he turned to karate, as he saw so much benefit from it compared to other children who were naturally strong and athletic.

The main reason I’m saying all of this is to let you know that if you’re having any self-critical thoughts or feelings about how you interact with technology, I’m in the same boat as you are. Even those who have practiced and taught the discipline for many years have expressed difficulties with staying mindful.

There isn’t anything wrong with you.

Focus on Your Improvement

In my experience in several different areas, I found that people who have natural talent in a particular field often aren’t very good at teaching it.

My theory is this: Those who are naturally talented have never had to struggle or work through challenges. There wasn’t much conscious thought behind it. Generally, they are great at demonstrating but often aren’t very effective teachers, as they can’t understand or relate to others’ learning experiences and see what they need to improve. 

So when you’re working on being more mindful — even though you may feel like you’re struggling — practice self-examination and you will develop your skill and ability to identify ways to continue being mindful.

Focus on how you’ve improved as a result of your efforts and not just your perceived shortcomings.  Have a bit of self-compassion.

Practice “Not Even One”


On this blog, we’ve shared many tips on the following topics:

  • How to use technology more mindfully.
  • How to exercise more control over how and when you use technology in order to be more productive, focused, and creative.
  • How to enable your use of technology to be more aligned with your intentions and goals.
This article is about what to do when none of the suggestions seem to work.

I’ve often expressed the importance of being hopeful rather than hopeless about our ability to change, but if we’re honest with ourselves, there may be some situations in which we can’t change in a positive direction — no matter how hard we try.

In those moments, it’s always tricky to know when to keep trying, when to change our approach, or even when to accept that there may be some things we can’t change. In those cases where we believe we can’t change something, it may be best to accept that fact.

With regard to behaviors that are harmful to us and not susceptible to change — perhaps because they’re addictive — it may be best to adopt a strict “not even one” approach.

The Mantra

I picked up that term from Joseph Goldstein, who is a very well-known mindfulness practitioner and teacher. He’s been teaching mindfulness in the U.S. for about 50 years and was one of the first Westerners to study the discipline in the East and bring it back to the West.

He once shared a personal story about his struggle to quit smoking when he was younger. What he decided to do was repeat “not even one” to himself as a mantra any time he found himself slipping back into smoking. As he was unable to stop after one cigarette, he adopted the saying to counter his cravings. He would train himself to have the phrase come to mind so he could remember his commitment to not having even one cigarette.

According to his story, that worked for him. He acknowledged that, to a certain extent, his mindfulness and skill enabled him to stop smoking.

How to Use It

It can be difficult to identify when one of our behaviors is so extreme, harmful, or resistant to change, mindfulness, or other approaches that we need to adopt a cold-turkey or “not even one” counter.

As you engage in your mindfulness practice, you should try to develop your capacity for self-awareness and self-understanding. This way, you can exercise your own judgment about which behaviors to keep working on even if they are very resistant to change and which behaviors you should accept as being too resistant or harmful to change.

In the context of this blog, it’s more about your connection to technology and how you use it. Try adopting the “not even one” mantra in relation to a behavior that isn’t particularly healthy for you.

This is something for you to investigate. You have the ability and power to decide what’s best for you.

You might decide that you need to stop engaging in personal text messaging while you’re at work and adopt the “not even mantra” for that purpose. That’s just one example of a way to tailor the solution to what feels suitable to you. No one can dictate from afar what you have to adopt in terms of an all-or-nothing policy. That may not even be what you need. You have to do what works for you. 

Although my overall approach is to empower people to make changes in how they use technology, there may be times when the best solution is to stop engaging in it and recognize that’s OK.

There’s nothing wrong if that’s the case for you. It’s simply a matter of acknowledging the situation in a mindful way and responding with wisdom.

Note: I don’t claim to be an expert on addiction — I’m far from it. On our podcast, we’ve interviewed Judson Brewer, who is an expert. If you worry that any of the ways in which you interact with technology really qualify as addictive behavior, I would strongly suggest that you check out the Centre For Mindfulness. There are programs there, and while Brewer has courses that address particular types of addiction, his work (all of which is mindfulness-based) targets addictions of various kinds.

Beyond Noticing: Putting Mindfulness into Action

A critical part of mindfulness is paying attention to our experience in the present moment.

In fact, every definition I’ve ever heard of mindfulness includes this element in some form. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

The very first step is recognizing what your present experience is. Paying attention to and noticing whatever we are perceiving, thinking, and feeling in the present moment is a crucial aspect of mindfulness. There’s a risk — particularly as mindfulness becomes more popular in the West — that we will end up merely practicing mindfulness as if that’s all there is and being mindful is the end goal.

Moving Beyond Noticing

Within traditional Buddhism, mindfulness is not the only thing. It is only one part of the overall path. I get the feeling that there is often a misunderstanding as people get introduced to mindfulness: The assumption is that the goal is to simply become more and more mindful…and that’s it.

If you want to address your problems and interactions with technology, start by noticing how you feel and what you’re thinking while you interact with technology. This is important as a first step.

However, this is the beginning and not the end.

Noticing is a necessary but insufficient condition for addressing the problem. If all we do is notice and never turn that noticing into action, then we won’t improve. Noticing has been so focused on in the West because we do so little of it, but we need to be careful not to just stop there. We have to move. We need to go further and come to a greater understanding of everything.

Tap Into Mindfulness

The mindfulness teachings I’ve encountered didn’t specifically address our current relationship with technology. It was also assumed that practicing mindfulness on its own would help people with their relationships.

That may be true, but it may not be the most effective or targeted way to address problems.

Moreover, when I saw people who had developed specific tech-related teachings, they tended to focus on noticing but stopped there. They would teach things like “Look at your email and pay attention to how you feel when you look at it. Make note of your thoughts and emotions. The end.”

I noticed my own frustration with this and felt like I wanted to go beyond just noticing. As a result, I developed the Tap Into Mindfulness exercises based on my combined experience in both traditional mindfulness meditation and martial arts (which you could think of as an applied mindfulness).

In self-defense training, you learn how to pay very close attention to a punch when it’s coming at your face. You learn to become incredibly mindful and still so you can be focused and not wrapped up in fear. It takes a lot of practice to see that punch coming at your face. There is a lot of noticing that you work on. But you don’t stop there. There are all kinds of actions you learn to do in addition to the noticing, and that’s why I’m calling all of this “beyond noticing.”

With all of the problems we seem to be having due to our use of technology — the stress, distraction, and disconnection between people — I felt like we needed to go beyond noticing.

That’s what Tap Into Mindfulness does. It gives people practical ways to develop and practice how to act based on what they’ve noticed in order to become more mindful and less enthralled by technology. It’s all by supplementing mindful noticing with action.

This is the next stage of mindfulness’ development in the West.

Make Plans as If the Internet Didn’t Exist

In recent years, many of us have taken to canceling plans at the last minute via text or by using our smartphones in other ways. It usually happens minutes from the meeting time. I try not to do this, but I am definitely guilty of it.

Before the internet, this was something that was not done as often. People made a real effort not to cancel unless there was some sort of true emergency. If they did cancel at the last minute without a valid reason, it would reflect very poorly on them. That doesn’t seem to be true anymore. It seems to be socially acceptable now to cancel plans at the last minute — and to cancel them via text.

This can hurt your reputation and perceived willingness to commit to things in both a professional and personal capacity. I believe this issue comes from our ability to get in touch with someone at any moment, which seemingly removes the need to let someone know far in advance that we may be forced to cancel, reschedule, or arrive late.

I’m in my mid-40s and recently spoke to someone in her mid-20s. She explained that “bailing out” is so common among people her age that she actually stopped making important plans with friends.

Smartphones play a significant role in this phenomenon, as they now shape how we schedule events. The interesting part is that you can spend more time scheduling something through online messaging than at the actual meeting itself. It’s hard enough when it’s just one person. When more than two people are involved, it becomes a scheduling nightmare that can be extremely time-consuming, frustrating, and anxiety-producing.

Here’s a tip:

Schedule meetings and reschedule /cancel them as if the internet didn’t exist.

Act as if you had no access to the internet.

Imagine you have scheduled to meet with someone at 1 p.m. If you act as if there is no internet and your morning schedule starts getting delayed, you’re probably going to need to call a couple of hours in advance to let them know. The purpose of this tip is to see how it affects your mindset and how the actions you take will lead you to be more mindful and present. Think about the other person and the consequences of your actions.

The internet gives us this sense of security that we can instantly reach people at any time, and this is what contributes to the last-minute rescheduling. Act as if the internet didn’t exist and see if that results in you doing fewer things at the last minute.

Does anything change if you reschedule the meeting a day before because you’re swamped with work? Would it be wiser to reschedule and avoid the risk of being unable to reach the person at the last minute? Do it a day in advance rather than a minute in advance.

It’s very common now for people to schedule meetings at the last minute.

Try this exercise to break the habit. Schedule a meeting with someone for Friday around noon and talk to the other person about a general meeting area. Leave the details very vague about the time and place. As the meeting approaches and you’re on your way to the area, you can hash out specifics with the other person in such a way that when the appointment time comes, you know everything and don’t need to communicate to finalize anything. You’re acting as if the internet doesn’t exist.

As with all mindfulness, take note of how you feel about your new behavior. Do you feel happier, less stressed, and less anxious?

How to Manage the Pull of Your Smartphone

Do you ever feel like your smartphone is calling to you even when it’s just sitting in your pocket not doing anything? When your phone beeps, vibrates, or buzzes at you, do you ask yourself, “Why is my phone doing this to me?!?”

When I speak to people about using mindfulness to help develop healthier relationships with technology, these are the kinds of things that I often hear from them. I feel these things myself — the feeling that the phone is like a living thing that’s doing something to us. It’s calling to us or trying to attract our attention.

From my experience of working for many years in technology and mindfulness, it seems that this feeling about our smartphones and other devices is very common. It feels as though these devices are acting on us. I’m calling this a feeling rather than a fact. It is something that we feel, and as real as it may feel to us, it is a feeling. And it’s a perfect type of feeling to apply some mindfulness to.

What I’ve found from my own personal experience and working with other people is that not applying mindfulness to that feeling can contribute to many of the problems and pains we experience in relation to our technology.

Think about the situation. Your phone is sitting in your pocket or somewhere else, but not in your hands.  You feel an urge, which is often called a craving in Buddhism, to pull out your phone and check Facebook or your email. At that moment, it may feel like the phone is pulling you, but if you were to pause, engage in some mindful reflection, and ask yourself, “What is actually happening now?,” what would your answer be?

This is part of what mindfulness is. It is an intention to see the present moment for what it is without a filter.

Step back at that moment and ask yourself, “Is this phone doing anything right now?” If you see the phone for what it is, you will see that the phone is not physically doing anything. It’s just sitting there. If you feel as though the phone is pulling you, I would strongly suggest that the pull is coming from somewhere within you rather than from the phone. Practicing mindfulness can help you to stop perceiving your feeling that the phone is pulling you as if it reflected reality.

What is true is that you feel like the phone is pulling at you. This is an exercise in separating the reality of the feeling from whether the meaning of the feeling accurately reflects reality. By detaching yourself from the feeling, you can separate the reality of the feeling from the reality of the meaning of the feeling.

I know how alluring or tempting that feeling can be in the moment. It can feel completely real. And it’s so natural and mindless that you can easily react to it.

If we apply some mindfulness when it arises, however, we may be able to short-circuit that automatic habit which leads us to pick up the phone and start using it as a reaction to the feeling that the phone is pulling us.

That craving is coming from within us. If we apply mindfulness, we can actually create an opportunity to make a mindful choice as to whether or not to use the phone. Practice mindfulness so that when you do reach for the phone, it’s the result of a mindful, conscious and intentional choice — not a reaction to the feeling that the phone is pulling you to it.

None of us is perfect at applying this.

With that said, I can pause some of the time and make a conscious choice, and whenever I do that, it has great side effects. It decreases my general feeling of anxiety. It’s a good feeling to know that I have a choice — just that feeling of freedom to choose is much better than the anxious, tight feeling that the phone is pulling me and that I have no freedom not to react to the pull.

When it surfaces, investigate the feeling that the phone is making you do something or acting on you. Use that to cultivate some mindfulness in that moment. Spend some time separately when you’re not experiencing that feeling in your practice. Then see if you can draw on your practice in your daily interactions with your phone.

The Pros and Cons of Mindfulness Reminders

There are many apps out there that can remind you to meditate or be mindful. You can set them to remind you at a certain time and configure them in all kinds of ways. Some of them ring a bell to remind you to be present, and then it’s up to you to do what you want at that time, such as pause and breathe, stretch, or meditate. Some of them will ring a bell and then actually play a sound to help you in your meditation. Some of them will offer you an inspiring quote or guided meditation.

I’m a big fan of these apps — I’m actually using two of them right now. I suggest you experiment with them and find which ones work best for you. It’s always up to you to experiment, investigate, and pay attention to what feels good to you.

But there’s an interesting paradox here. As I’ve said many times, when your phone or computer pops up a reminder or notification about something, that itself can be distracting, create anxiety, and therefore be counterproductive to your mindfulness. The very apps that are reminding you to be mindful — if they remind you too much, in a wrong way, or at the wrong time — can actually end up creating the problems we’re trying to help to alleviate with mindfulness.

I was at Wisdom 2.0 a couple of years ago in San Francisco and attended the breakout sessions on technology and mindfulness. Some of the people in the group were app developers and one of them talked about a category of app that he called “Nag Apps” — apps that nag you to be mindful. I really like that term because when an app is bothering you to be mindful, it can indeed feel like it is nagging you.

Lately, I’ve been test-driving a new app. I’m not going to say what it is, but it has a very wide range of notifications that can provide reminders during the day. After installing it, I found that it was popping up notifications left and right. “How are you feeling now?” “Check in with your body,” asking me to write a journal note about how I was feeling. The frequent reminders were really frustrating.

That’s an example of the potential downside of using technology too much to be mindful. That’s why we have to be mindful of our use of technology, how we configure it, and how we choose to automate it.

What I like about this app is the settings: I can get complete control over when and how I receive notifications as well as what I am notified about. After some trial and error, I’ve struck a balance that’s good for me. Kudos to the app developers for thinking that through and giving the user the power to configure the app. If it wasn’t customizable, if it just always reminded me when it wanted to, I probably would have stopped using it because any mindfulness benefits would have been counteracted by annoyance with the many reminders.

As users, we also must take responsibility for how we configure our technology and how we choose which technology to use. We must also stay aware over time of whether the apps we’re using remain helpful.

There might be some apps that are beneficial for six months, but then you find that you no longer need the app to remind you anymore. Pay attention to how you actually feel when you’re using these apps. Pause and think: “Is there something about this that I like and something I don’t like? If so, are there any settings here that I can change to make it work more like how I want it to?”

I don’t know if it occurs to a lot of people, but if there aren’t any settings to change, you can contact the app developer to request an improvement. While I’m not saying they will necessarily be responsive, there’s so much competition among apps these days that developers are just craving feedback from their users — it’s one of the things they spend the most time, money, and energy on. If they’re using something like a lean startup methodology, a key aspect of that is staying in touch with their users and keeping in mind what works and doesn’t work for the users.

So if you’re thinking, “There’s no point in contacting an app developer. What are the odds they’re going to make a change for me?” You might be wrong about that. Get in touch with them. And I don’t just mean by posting a review. Send them an email or message them on their website and let them know what you would like changed. You may be surprised.

I’ve even done this for software from my law firm. The vendors I’ve contacted have made changes based on my feedback. When a company gets feedback from one user, they usually assume that for every one user, there are probably a hundred others with the same issue or concern.

Another thing: Contact app developers when you like something too. Don’t wait until you have a problem and only tell them about the negatives. If there’s something that really works well for you, let them know. Or if you found a problem or bug that you want fixed, tell them something that also works really well that you don’t want to change. That’s really helpful for them and may actually make someone’s day. Most businesses — not just app developers — often only hear from customers when they have a complaint. That means they never hear back from customers when things are going really well.

In the end, it’s tough to strike a balance between the benefits of mindfulness reminders and the risks that they will actually frustrate you and impede your mindfulness.

But even if you are not a programmer or software developer, there is a way to take a more proactive stance to influence how the technology you use is developed and deployed for your own benefit, others like you and the technology companies that put a lot of time, energy, money, and other resources into creating apps that will help people be mindful.

Tips for Mindful Task Management: Part 2

Here are some more ways to apply mindfulness to tackling the tasks on your to-do list.

1. Time Your Tasks and Prioritize Them

Sometimes it feels overwhelming to get the to-dos onto the calendar — particularly at the beginning of the week.

I start out by just dumping all of my to-dos on a Monday and creating an appointment, description, and duration for each item. I throw them all onto Monday in any order simply to get them out with a description and period of time I want to allocate to them. Then I start dragging them around to different days and different times of day to see what feels right by looking at them visually. If you’re a visual thinker who feels hesitant and overwhelmed by the scheduling of to-dos, this tip could prove beneficial. I find that seeing them out there not only helps me schedule them but reduces the anxiety I have about the idea of organizing them, which then makes it easy to revise the schedule if I slip up on anything.

2. Incorporate Mindfulness into Processing Your To-Do List

What does this have to do with mindfulness? There is great value in stepping back from everyday chaos and thinking mindfully about when to-dos should be completed so that you can focus on what’s important rather than simply what’s urgent. To me, that’s all an exercise in mindfulness.

If our norm is to mindlessly race from one thing to the next throughout the day and then again every time we have a spare minute to scan our to-do list for an item to check off, that’s a somewhat mindless approach — regardless of how important or relevant the to-do is.

This process of stepping back periodically and really thinking carefully about what needs to be done and why represents an exercise in mindfulness. Reducing the stress and anxiety level can help facilitate a more mindful state. If I know that my important to-dos are sitting on my calendar somewhere, I feel much less anxious than when I’m thinking, “Oh no, there are things I know that I need to get done, but I don’t even know if I have them written down or indicated somewhere.” If I know I’ve scheduled them, then I’m less likely to believe that something critical is going to slip through the cracks. That decrease in anxiety can help me be more mindful overall.