If you’re like most therapists, you’re in the habit of discussing mindfulness with your clients—but where does mindfulness fit into your own day-to-day practice management? We can all benefit from being more mindful, and that’s as true of mental health practitioners as it is of clients.
How can you become more present and mindful in the context of your busy workday? Mindfulness is a way to reprogram your mind so that you take more deliberate, focused actions.
Being present is one of the most important ways that you as a therapist can improve the delicate balance of managing a successful practice while also maintaining a healthy mindset and lifestyle. Practicing mindfulness allows you to function with less stress and more peace of mind.
Tips to be more Present in your Practice
Awareness is the first step towards a mindful workday. When you’re conscious about how you’re spending each moment, you become cognizant of what’s going on both around you and also within yourself. How do you feel right now? Connect yourself with your senses. What’s pulling at your mind and causing you to become distracted? Becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings will help you to focus your attention so that you can catch yourself if your thinking veers off track. By increasing your awareness, you’ll be better equipped to give the task at hand 100% of your attention.
How are all of the e-mails, phone calls, and appointments making you feel? Thinking about the moving parts of your practice all at once is not helpful to your peace of mind. Give only one task your undivided attention at any given time. If your attention starts to wander, remind yourself of the the mindfulness principles and take affirmative action to be more focused on the task at hand.
If you’re usually a multi-tasker, as a therapist you can recognize the benefit single-tasking instead. People gravitate towards multi-tasking because it makes them feel more productive, but in fact every time you jump from one task to another, your brain loses data and your thoughts become more scattered. When you focus on one thing at a time with your undivided attention, your efforts are more productive.
A helpful tip when single-tasking is to group your tasks by category. When you handle all of your e-mail at one time before moving on to phone calls, your brain can be more focused than if you switched back and forth between tasks. Even when you slow down to manage your e-mail more consciously, you can accomplish more in less time by not switching between the task categories. Block out a time for each category so that you can be more mindful and efficient.
“Be Here Now”
Even seemingly mundane tasks can have much more meaning when you become mindful of them. Concentrate on your own breathing, or focus on making eye contact with someone who you greet on the street or in the elevator. Experiencing these seemingly insignificant moments consciously will build your mindfulness “muscle” and equip you with the presence of mind to focus on other important moments, like when you greet your clients, or the care that you take as you write each client note.
When you’re present in each moment, these small pieces add up to make your entire day and the management of your practice much more mindful as a whole.
An Organized Workspace
Before you can attune your senses to mindfulness, it’s important that you have a workspace that’s conducive to focus and efficiency. When you have a disorganized desk or office space, the chaos detracts from your ability to concentrate. Whether it’s a messy desk, disorganized computer, unsorted filing system, muddled day-timer, or rumpled piles of handwritten notes, getting things in order can lead to a more peaceful practice existence. Staying organized and being in control of your working environment will empower you with more centred thought processes.
An organized workspace is one of the primary benefits of transitioning your practice management to an online solution like Owl Practice. Using tools that are designed specifically to keep therapists organized will help to declutter your environment so that you can turn your full attention to the things that matter most.
Being mindful often means that you need to slow down. It’s difficult to be deliberate when you’re in a rush, but that level of focus can pay off in the long run because a more mindful approach is usually much more effective. Mindfulness at work can seem counter-intuitive but when you’re more dedicated to one task at a time, you’ll be more effective. You’ll find that the increased productivity that mindfulness brings to your day will leave you happier and more resilient overall.
It probably goes without saying that digital distractions should be silenced. That’s true for more than just your mobile phone. When you aren’t deliberately focused on your e-mail, log out of your account. Don’t have social media tabs open on your computer throughout your workday. Reserve times for specific breaks when you can check social media for a focused, set period of time, then log out.
Find Time to Pause
It’s helpful to pause for a few minutes at the beginning of your day to set clear intentions in your mind. This can also be important to centre yourself before beginning a client session.
It’s very healthy to take breaks throughout the day to practice mindfulness. Take a deep breath, stretch, take a moment to look out the window to appreciate the season, and whenever possible take a mindful walk. The more that you take care of yourself, the healthier you’ll be to take care of your clients.
Your Health Matters
Remember all of the advantages that working mindfully will bring to your own health, and a healthier you will make for a more successful practice.
Mindfulness is a subject that we think about a lot at Owl Practice. We believe in finding easier ways to manage your business. It’s our goal to find solutions that will allow therapists, psychologists, and social workers to spend more time focused on clients while at the office, and less time thinking about your practice when away from the office.
We’re continuously improving our practice management system to make your workflow more efficient. With features like Calendar Management, Secure Client Data, Clinical Progress Notes, Workflow Management, and Invoicing, we’re striving to make your job as a therapist easier so that you can focus more in the moment without the distraction of inefficient administrative work. These tools, along with a mindful perspective, result in a more productive practice and an overall healthier work-life balance.