‘Mindful living’ or ‘intentional living’ are terms that have started to become widely used. But what exactly do these terms mean and how can we use these concepts in our everyday life? This is how Psychology Today describes mindfulness.
“When you’re mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience” – Psychology Today
So mindful living is about being aware of the present moment and having an awareness of your thoughts and feelings. However, in our busy, everyday lives it is difficult to remember to be aware of your feelings and actions. This is why I have compiled this list of habits that will help you to fill your life with the things that you want to do. This is a way for you to work towards your goals and do what makes you happy without having to constantly remember to be ‘mindful’.
Here are 5 habits you should start today for living a more intentional & purposeful life.
1. Schedule things that are important to you
The first habit that will help you live a more mindful life is to schedule things that matter to you. In our busy lives, it can be difficult to remember our priorities and to make time for all of the different activities that bring us joy. A huge part of mindful living is to find balance in your life. If you find yourself overwhelmed by work or other important tasks, remember that taking care of yourself and taking time to do things you love is vital for your wellbeing.
It’s not always enough to just make to-do lists of things you want to do in a day. If you really want to take time to care for yourself, the best way is to add these activities into your calendar at specific times. For example if you want to play piano more often but you never feel like you have time to practice, schedule it on a Thursday evening between 6-6.30pm or on a Sunday 3-4pm. The more specific you are with your time-frame, the better. This way you know that these times are reserved for that particular activity.
Here are different types of activities you should consider adding to your calendar:
Self-care is really important because it allows you to just focus on you for a moment. The goal of self-care is to allow yourself to relax if you feel overwhelmed and to just do something because it makes you feel good. What self-care is varies greatly from person to person. One person might find a short walk outside relaxing and someone else might find a hot bath relaxing. Whatever it is that makes you feel happy and relaxed, find a time in the week to add it to your calendar. That way you won’t tell yourself that you don’t have time for it.
As kids, hobbies are fun activities that we fill our time with. They make us happy and allow us to be creative, active, and focused. However, as adults we often don’t see the importance of hobbies. We think they’re just for kids to pass time and to learn skills at a young age. But hobbies are beneficial for people of any age. Especially with many of us spending an increasing amount of time on our phones and laptops just scrolling through social media or watching people on YouTube. It’s important to not just consume content all the time but to also create and do things ourselves. Whether this is a creative hobby like knitting or a physical activity like rock climbing, hobbies make us feel accomplished when we reach goals. They force us to really focus and be creative or active.
Whatever hobby it is that you have or would like to try out, find certain times every week when you will just focus on your hobby. Even if you normally feel like you don’t have time for your hobbies, you’ll probably realise that you can spare half an hour every now and again.
Schedule things that will help you reach your goals
This last one is extremely important and one that’s easy to forget. Most of us set different goals throughout the year but struggle to reach them. Whether this be eating healthier, saving money or starting a workout routine, goals are difficult to reach without setting aside time to work towards them. If your goal is to work out more, then schedule times in the week to do this. If you want to save money, schedule a block of time to review your spendings and to draft a budget for the next week (I talk about this in more detail in my blog post about How To Organise Your Finances). If your new goal is to eat healthier, then schedule a time in the week when you will meal prep healthy meals. Without knowing exactly when you plan to work towards your goals, you will soon forget them. Therefore, make sure to add these tasks to your calendar right away!
2. Keep a visual reminder of your goals
When we set goals, we are full of motivation and excitement to improve our lives. However, achieving your goals is not easy. Without constant reminder, you can either entirely forget about your ambitious goals or think that you don’t really have time to focus on them. Maybe you even start to think that they’re not very important right now. But with mindful living you want to be aware of your goals so that you can plan your life around them. Your goals shouldn’t be an afterthought. In order to make sure that you keep caring about your goals and pursuing them, it’s important to keep a visual reminder of what you want to achieve.
Vision boards or dream boards are a great way of keeping your goals visible in front of you. They are traditionally physical noticeboards that you can pin pictures or inspirational quotes to. However if you prefer to create a digital vision board you can do that too. A website like Pinterest is a good tool for creating vision boards because Pinterest is a very visual platform. The only problem with a digital vision board is that you have to remember to look at it. You could also make your completed vision board your desktop background.
Use high-quality images
When creating your vision board you want to use high-quality images that will inspire you to pursue your goals. While some people respond to visual stimuli more than others, it’s safe to say that everyone feels more motivated by bright, vibrant pictures rather than poor-quality, dark images. This is especially important if you know that you’re a visual person. If you find it difficult to describe your goals through words then using images will be really helpful for you. Try to find images that show where you would like to be in 5 years time. This could be for any goal whether related to health, career or family. Since your vision board is just for you, you can get pictures from Google Images or Pinterest. Alternatively you can get high-quality images from free stock photography sites such as Pexels and Pixabay.
Keep it simple
Your vision board will be most effective when it’s simple and to the point. Too many different images and quotes can make it seem overwhelming and confusing. You want your goals to be clear to you the moment you see your vision board and if it looks too cluttered then that can actually have the opposite effect on your motivation.
Keep it visible
Lastly, if you want your vision board to be of any use to you then you have to keep it somewhere where you won’t forget about it. The saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ really is true for visual people. If your vision board is up on a wall by your desk then you are reminded of your goals every time you sit down to do work and get organised.
3. Stick to a daily routine
If you want to live mindfully and make sure that you fill your days with things that really matter to you then you should try to create a daily routine. Daily routines are a series of habits or tasks that you do every single day that help keep you organised.
When habits are new it is incredibly difficult to stick with them and it’s easy to say ‘I’ll do it tomorrow instead’. However, by building up your daily routine one step at a time you get accustomed to doing the same things everyday so you stop questioning them. Before you start to create your routine, write down a list of things that you want to do every day that will help you to live a better and more mindful life.
Examples of things you could add to your routine:
- Doing the dishes before bed
- Going on a walk
- Waking up at a certain time
- Writing a to-do list
- Reading a chapter of a book
- Learning a new skill
- Writing in your journal
What you want to fill your days with is really personal and will vary from person to person. Just because someone else has a certain habit that helps them does not mean it will be beneficial for you. Try to figure out what will be useful for you and if you’re not sure, try some different habits and see what works and what doesn’t.
Are you unsure of how to start creating a daily routine? Follow the steps below.
a. Start with one task to do daily
Developing a routine takes time and if you try to take on too much at once you are likely to fail. To avoid this, start by choosing one thing that you will do everyday decide exactly when you will do it. Then, start that new habit today. By only adding one thing at a time you will be more likely to succeed. This will also be easier if you do the task at the exact same time everyday. This way you can use an alarm as a reminder.
b. Add another task to your routine
After a while you will become comfortable with your new habit. You won’t have to remind yourself to do it everyday. At this stage you can start adding another daily task to your routine. Once again, only add one thing at a time and dedicate a specific time in the day when you will complete it. Your first task should at this point feel like second nature.
c. Repeat this process
Some habits you will struggle to keep up with, especially as you add more but if you want to get a daily routine that really works for you, just keep adding things that are important to you. As you go on there may be a few things that you realise don’t have to be part of your daily routine. Maybe you can make them weekly. What you choose to add to your routine and how you do it is really personal and up to you. You will learn over time what works for you and what doesn’t.
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4. Keep an ongoing to-do list
There are a few different types of to-do lists. Some to-do lists are daily, weekly or perhaps monthly. They contain your tasks that you want to accomplish within a certain time frame. But what if you think of tasks that you want to do in the near future but you don’t necessarily need to complete them within the next few days or weeks. It is important to write these down as a reminder so that you don’t forget about them. This is where an ongoing to-do list comes in.
An ongoing to-do list is a master to-do list with all of the various tasks you have to do. Whether it’s something really important that has a fixed due date like paying a bill or just something that needs doing in the next few months like buying Christmas presents, a master list keeps track of all of these tasks in one place.
You can of course write your master ongoing to-do list by hand in a bullet journal or on a piece of paper but I prefer to use a website called trello.
Trello is a website where you can write down tasks that you need to do on different boards and under different categories. You can set a due date for each individual task and add checklists to them. It’s also a great website if you want a joint list with your partner or colleagues because you can create group boards that everyone can add to.
Once you have set up an account you can create different boards. You could have one personal board and one for work. Then within the boards you can add different ‘lists’ to which you add your tasks, known as ‘cards’. Your cards can be moved around the different lists or archived when you don’t want to see them anymore.
I find trello to be very convenient compared to writing tasks down on paper because you can organise the tasks as you go along. When you have completed a task you can just remove it so it doesn’t clutter your list. You can add due dates so that you see the most prioritised tasks. If the due date shows up orange then you have 24 hours complete it. If it’s red then that task is overdue. You can also easily separate tasks into different lists to make them easier to manage.
Post-it note board
If you don’t like to use digital organisers, then another great method of collecting all of your tasks is to create a post-it note board. This is a really easy visual method of seeing your tasks.
First, you need to find an empty space on a wall where you want to have your board. Then write down your individual tasks onto post-it notes and just stick them onto the wall. Try using different colours for different categories. Alternatively you could write headings on separate pieces of paper to stick at the top to create different categories.
Although I have never used this method myself, it seems like a great method for visual people. It’s also great for people who like to write things down by hand. With a post-it not board, you are very unlikely to forget about your list because it’s visible on a wall in your home. That way you are constantly reminded of your tasks that you have to do.
No method is going to be the best one for everyone! If you want a system that’s going to work for you, have a think about what keeps you productive. Do you like digital organisation systems or do you like writing things down on paper? Are you a very visual person? Do you need to keep lists out where you can see them? Do you like to doodle and create pretty journal spreads? Only you can know what the best method is for you. If you’re not sure, try different systems and see which one you stick with.
The last habit I have for you today that will help you live more a more intensional life is to self-reflect on a regular basis. This doesn’t have to be daily, it can just be something you do once a week or once a month. However, it is incredibly important to reflect on and to be mindful of what you have accomplished and what you need to improve on. Without reflecting on where you are right now you won’t know what to improve on and how to move forward with your goals.
Schedule time for self-reflection
It can be really difficult to remember to take time to reflect on what you’ve done if you don’t remind yourself. Having a regularly scheduled time designated to self-reflection allows it to become a habit and something that you easily do. I would suggest a weekly reflection to analyse what you have achieved in the the week and what your next steps will be but it’s also really good to do a monthly reflection if you’d rather not do it as often.
Write down what you have accomplished
Whether you want to write this in a journal, on a piece of paper or type it digitally, start by writing down what you have accomplished in the last week/month. Even if it’s just a small step towards your final goal include it here. This will encourage you to keep on working towards your goals and feel inspired to move forward. It could be reaching a goal or a special milestone but this could also just be taking steps towards that goal. Any improvement is good and will motivate you.
Write down what you need to improve on
This is the part which most of us try to forget about or ignore but it is important to write down if something didn’t go to plan and to understand why that was. For example, if you tried to start a new diet but failed to keep it up after the second day write that down. Try to also write down why it didn’t work. What prevented you from taking this action? This is really important for planning ahead because by understanding what your struggles are you learn how to overcome them.
What are your next steps?
What are the steps you can take next week or month to further work towards your goals? You don’t have to write this down as part of your self-reflection. It can just be a separate planning document. However, it’s a good idea to write this at the same time as you’re reflecting because you learn from what you’ve already done and what hasn’t worked well, what it is you need to do next.
Thank you so much for reading until the end! I hope that you found some inspiration in these mindful living habits. Let me know in the comments below what the term ‘mindful living’ means to you. Don’t forget to share this post on social media if you enjoyed it! xxx
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