happiness Mindful Living personal development

15 Mindfulness Hacks To Make Your Life Easier and Happier

15 mindfulness hacks to make your life easier and happier right away

We’d all like to make life easier, right? Who likes complicated? Not me. Life is hectic enough, as it is.

Whether or not we want it, there is an abundance of just about everything we can think of. As if that’s not enough, we’ve got information and “things” coming at us from all directions. These can be freebies, unnecessary snail mail (yes, I still get a load of it), that extra packaging when we order online (ugh!).

Decluttering—or clutter clearing has become an ongoing process. If we’ve got work deadlines, this gets put off. And if you work from home, seeing stuff lying around can raise stress levels. Ask me about that! Once upon a time I used to be a fanatic about keeping the home spotless but all that went out the window over the years.

What with mothering a growing and rather hyperactive kid and taking care of my Mom who had a chronic health issue, being perfect was not even the last thing on my mind. I followed the Dust if you Must policy, barely managing to hold it all together. My idea of happy was this: if we had nothing to complain about at the end of the day, life was good. I was also fortunate to have a Mom who constantly reminded us to be mindful through example.

Also, as technology made our lives easier, it also brought in some complications. You know what they say – every advantage has a disadvantage. And it isn’t hard to put off things for “someday”. My old friend procrastination is alive and well and still motivates me.

In my quest to enjoy life by living mindfully, I constantly ask myself: what’s my excuse?

That stimulating question taught me to simplify life and worry less through being mindful, rather than over-stress when things did not go the way I wished.

Here are fifteen mindfulness hacks that definitely made my life easier and happier–and freed up time for the things that really matter!

15 mindfulness hacks to make your life easier and happier #mindfulness #lifehacks #personaldevelopment #tips

1.    Unitask

Yes, that’s a fancy word for doing only one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is not a badge of honor.  Research shows that multitasking lowers IQ, shrinks the gray matter, and lowers productivity by 40%. Let’s face it—how much of your attention can be focus when you’re doing five things at a time? You’re bound to miss a step or forget something. Of course, this is followed by feeling bad and leads to stress. None of which is welcome. To top it all, less than what you aimed for accomplished! So try doing one thing at a time. You’ll find that you’re way more efficient and enjoy the satisfaction of completing what you set out to do. I know that even when focusing on one task, there are many distractions. So prioritize and decide that you will not budge until you finish what you started. If you work at a computer, there is no dearth of apps that help you stay focused.

I use a free desktop app called Toggl to track my work time, stay focused and raise my guilt-meter when I wander around. There are apps that also block social media sites and other sites you tend to waste time on. (I think productivity apps is a topic for a whole new post.)

2.    Get your day off to a good start

When the day begins well, there’s a pretty good chance that the rest of it will go well, too. If you don’t already have a morning ritual, now’s the time to pick one and practice. Here’s my routine: as soon as I wake up, I stretch for two minutes. Just some simple stuff. Then I brush my teeth, wash my face with soap (yes, good feeling), light my lamp and incense and pray for a couple of minutes (I chat with her divine self) and start making coffee. The coffee making in itself is a ritual—setting up my filter, filling it with coffee powder while I heat water to pour into it to get my fresh brew. Then I heat the milk and make my coffee—sit peacefully and enjoy it, savoring every sip. All this takes about 20 minutes. And when I am able to begin the day this way, I am in a great frame of mind and ready to tackle anything. It also helps that I’ve already have a meal plan in place – I sit for 15 minutes on Sunday to make this so I can also organize my grocery shopping accordingly.

So – point is, begin the day in a way that makes you feel good. Big difference! Maybe you’d like to meditate or go for a walk or listen to music. Whatever it is, do something that soothes you  and motivates you to take on the day.

3.    Minimize your paper clutter

About a couple of months ago, I went crazy looking for a particular document. And you wont believe where I finally found it, hours of searching later. We keep most of the paper stuff in a chest of drawers. Now every time a drawer is a little full, there’s a good chance of the paper getting pushed to the back—and tipping over into the cabinet. This can be accessed only when we dismantle all the drawers. Ugh! I ended up resolving to go through all our files and shred what we didn’t need. Five bags later, still shredding. What a mess!

We live in a digital world and we also have a responsibility to protect the environment. These days we can minimize the paper by opting for online payments. It is also easier to organize this without having to deal with the paper clutter.  Also, paper tends to get misplaced and adds to the stress. So, only keep documents that you absolutely have to keep and digitize the rest. Demat your investments. Set up reminders for bill payments in your Google calendar and it will faithfully remind you on your phone to ensure you don’t miss a payment. You know what I mean. So many ways to deal with paper clutter.

4.    Shop smart

When I say shop smart, I don’t mean look for the best deal. I mean go easy on that shopping binge usually triggered by spending way too much time browsing endlessly. I can tell you that impulse shopping is perhaps the worst – pretty much like those Happy kiddy meals that come with a toy—the minute the toy is over the threshold of your home, it is forgotten and ignored and only comes up to induce guilt. Who needs that? Why shop spur of the moment and waste money and add to your clutter? Instead, make a wish list. Revisit that list in, say, a month—and review. You will probably find you no longer feel like buying that stuff. Also, a smart move is to remove two each time you buy one. Donate!

5.    Cut down your emailing

You know you don’t have to respond to every email you receive right away, right? Set yourself an email goal. Say 5 a day—depending on what you do. Limit the length of the email. When you do this, you’ll learn to attend to only the most important emails. And? Your emails will be to the point.

6.    Start decluttering, a little at a time

The thought of decluttering can be intimidating. I know it paralyzes me to the point that I take no action. The problem is this: I look at the big picture and it scares me. I had this all or nothing approach. And because my goals were huge, I never seemed to accomplish them. I would stress over this. Then I learned something.

Set aside 15 minutes per day. Tackle one small area. Say, a drawer. A corner. The entryway. And focus only on that spot. No wandering, no getting distracted. I say that because that always happens to me. I’ll start with the doorway area – thinking I’ll just put away the shoes inside the shelf and straighten the living room. Before I know it, I’ve picked up a duster to dust. Then I stop at the bookshelf and…oooh, let’s not even go there! So, set that timer and go at it. And stop when it goes off. Every little helps. The journey of a 1000 miles…. You know what I mean!

7.    Unplug once a week

Yes, unplug. Literally. Just one day a week. For me, that day is Monday. If you can’t imagine a whole day – try half a day. Unplugged means no TV, no computer, no radio, no iPod/iPad. No Kindle. Plan the day around this. Perhaps catch up on your reading. Cooking. Going out. Visit family/friends. Go to a park. Explore your city. Go on a picnic. Spend time away from your screens. Go call that friend and make a date now!

You’ll be amazed at how you feel after just two weeks. After the initial “withdrawal” for want of a better word—after all, it takes consistent practice to adopt a habit—you’ll find yourself enjoying yourself. You’ll love the freedom!

8.    Practice saying No

If there had to be a list of ten top secrets for success, saying “no” would probably be at the top of the list. If you want to be in control of your time and be productive, you want to be choosy about what you take on and what you let go of. You’ll initially hesitate, feel bad, wonder if you’re letting the other person down. Truth is, the other person will get things done anyway. If not from you, from someone else. So, focus on your own priorities first. Charity really does begin at home. I learned this the hard way. I’d take on way too much simply because I find it hard to say no. But I’ve realized that if I always say yes, I am not respecting myself. I am making myself miserable, getting stressed. That’s not nice, is it?

9.    Set up a routine for recurring tasks

There’s magic in routine. A routine is a sequence of activities that’s part of your life, that you carry out in a scheduled manner. Examples are brushing your teeth in the morning, showering, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner and so on. Create a routine for recurring tasks like paying your bills, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, and so on. When you schedule these for a certain day of the week, not only will you make sure the task is done but avoid the stress of delays.

I used to wait until the due date to pay bills and go through the stress of an iffy internet that didn’t allow me to do it and forced me to postpone it, thereby adding a hefty fine to an already annoying bill. The worst thing is that credit card bill—the late payment fees are exorbitant.

So, assign a convenient day of the week for all those regular tasks. The less time you spend thinking about it, the more you get done. This will automatically mean more time to do the things you enjoy!

10.Make your bed, etc.

I know, right? There are entire dissertations on the benefits of making your bed in the morning, besides the obvious one of going back to a neat bed. Nice feeling! The same way, make it a habit to put back things in their place after you use them.

  • After you have your coffee, rinse that mug and put it away.
  • If you pull out three outfits from your closet and wear one, put away the other two.
  • Got a stack of books? Keep the one you are reading and put the rest away.
  • Have designated areas for your bag, your keys, your shoes, your accessories, etc.

Yes, I know, like me, you wish your laundry would fold itself and put itself away—but until that happens, for now, do it. Add it to your routine. It is easier that way and you’ll find yourself doing less unscheduled maintenance. Way better to tackle it than pile it up.

11.Pay attention to your health

It is the norm to telecommute to work these days and spend a lot of time at the desk. Find time to exercise. When you are fit and lead a healthy lifestyle, you minimize your chances of lifestyle diseases. Be mindful of how long you sit, when you eat and what you eat, and when you sleep. Make it a point to get up and move for every 30 minutes you sit. Since I work from home, I also have a standing desk that lets me stand and work.

Try and build the habit of going to bed at a reasonable hour and waking up early. The Chinese have a theory about an organ repair schedule where they believe that when we sleep, each organ resets itself. However, if you stay up very late, those organs don’t get a chance to refresh themselves, leading to health issues. Healthy body, healthy mind. Make that your mantra.

12.Take mindful breaks

You know how, when your PC freezes, you reboot it? Do the same for yourself. Schedule mini breaks throughout the day. Even 5-10 minutes will do. What can you do during this time?

  • Stare out of the window, enjoy the breeze
  • Take a quick walk
  • Enjoy a cup of tea
  • Doodle
  • Pass time with a coloring page
  • Stretch
  • Meditate
  • Do breathing exercises
  • Look at motivational quotes
  • Read jokes

These mini mindful breaks will keep you stress-free and help you tackle the day and your to-do list.

13.Smile often

Did you know that even a fake smile is a big stress-buster and makes you happier? So smile more. Feel free to smile for no reason. Smile to yourself. Smile at your reflection in the mirror. An “I love you” to that reflection is great, too. Smile when you see family, friends, colleagues. It feels amazing. That old adage—the day will go the way the corners of your mouth are turned may just be true.

Read: Smiling meditation

14.Be mindful in relationships

Pause before you speak. Sometimes we say things we don’t mean and can’t un-say the words.  Relationships are much better and easier when we hold our tongues. Feel free to express yourself, but also remember that not every conversation needs a wordy comeback. This way you’ll have less clutter in your relationships.

15.Practice gratitude

As a mindfulness practice, gratitude expands your consciousness. You can practice gratitude in many ways.

  • Maintain a gratitude journal where you note 3/5 things you are grateful for every day before you go to bed or as soon as you wake up.
  • Keep a Happiness jar where you drop gratitude notes
  • Simply sit in a quiet place and think about what you are grateful for.
  • Set a timer and write 3/5 things you are grateful for

Whatever suits you – although I must say that writing it down makes a big difference rather than just thinking it. Gratitude changes your perspective on life and opens the door to happiness. I host the Gratitude Circle blog hop on the last Thursday, every month. All are welcome to join in with your own feel-good post. (the February Gratitude Circle linky will open on 28 February. Do join me!)

The point is to take stock of those areas that seem the most chaotic and tackle them, simplify them. I promise that even if you pick one from this list of 15, you’ll feel much happier, because your life will be easier.

Can you add to this list? Tell me in the comments!

14 Comments

  • Reply
    Obsessivemom
    February 27, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    You had me at the very first point. I had no idea there was a term for it. I have always felt guilty of not being a great multi-tasker and I end up forgetting many things when i do try. Glad there’s research to support what I always felt was right. I love your morning routine – mine begins with the rush of making tiffins. Sigh! Maybe I’ll take a minute or two to stretch and calm down before rushing to the kitchen. Also, I ALWAYS make my bed that’s such a deeply ingrained habit. As of now I’m trying to get the kids to do theirs. It’s a bit of a struggle but we’ll get there.

  • Reply
    Shilpa Guptes
    February 27, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Vidyaaaaaa!!!
    I so loved this post! Makes me feel good about the changes I made in myself, or rather, the Universe brought about in me. I totally agree with you on all the points. All I need to do now, is learn to UNPLUG once a week. That’s the only thing I am not doing right now. But, today, after reading your post. I have decided to SWITCH OFF every Sunday. What I will do the entire day is something that I will plan on Saturday, but I will switch off, for sure!

    Thank you so much for this post!

    Shilpa Guptes recently posted…So what?

    • Reply
      Sulekha
      February 28, 2019 at 9:04 pm

      What a great list! I am glad there are more like me who can’t multitask. I am hopeless at it. I am following Marie Kondo’s KonMari method of de cluttering and finding it helpful. I sit and meditate while saying thanks to the good people who make my life happier and fulfilling. Unplugging is something I am working on. Thanks for the mindfulness hacks.

  • Reply
    Shilpa Gupte
    February 27, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Hey, I was unable to enter my email id in the box below. Trying once more.

    Nope, not happening. 🙁

    Shilpa Gupte recently posted…So what?

  • Reply
    Natasha Sinha
    February 27, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    I just needed my dose of inspiration and here, I have it with your brilliant post. Every word of this post is such a nugget of encouragement. Thank you Vidya. I’m book marking this. And sharing with friends and family.

    God bless you loads. And I’d like to give gratitude for your blog and your lovely words.

    Lots of love. <3

    https://natashamusing.com/2019/02/sparrow-day-wordless-wednesday-natasha-musing/

  • Reply
    Vanita Cyril
    February 27, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    I use many of these hacks thanks to you Vidya. They really truly have made a difference.
    Vanita Cyril recently posted…Why Your Subconscious Impacts Your Business Planning Success

  • Reply
    Kurta & Kurtis For Women
    February 27, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    very informative post for me as I am always looking for new content that can help me and my knowledge grow better.

  • Reply
    Debbie L Hampton
    February 27, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    I’m happy to say that I already do the majority of these. It does help my days and life run smoother. Thanks for the reminders. 🙂

  • Reply
    Elle Sommer
    February 28, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    Some of your hacks my mum taught me way back when Vidya and some I discovered for myself and some are new to me and I love them. I think there are times when we have to adjust whatever the popular model is in certain instances for what best suits our own unique way of being in the world. It did take me a little time to discover that what many time management people said was the best way to do things, simply didn’t work well for me. So I adjusted! I’ll give a couple of the ones that are new to me a try and see how they go. Thank you dear heart for the inspiration.
    PS I love the way your site autopopulates my name email and website addresses for commenting…makes life so much easier! 🙂
    Elle Sommer recently posted…What Are My True Values?

  • Reply
    Parul Thakur
    March 2, 2019 at 8:33 am

    Loved this one! All 15 are such simple yet effective ways to simplify life. I’m so glad to know you. Inspite of the many things that happen, you manage to gulp it all down with calm.
    I loved your morning ritual. Mine starts with making tea too.
    Parul Thakur recently posted…Gratitude List – February 2019

  • Reply
    Sandra Pawula
    March 4, 2019 at 12:23 am

    Oh Vidya, I can so relate to your experience of trying to find a lost paper for hours. My life is much more simple now, but I still find that paper accumulates easily. Recently, I had to search through to find an important receipt. Fortunately, it didn’t take me hours. These are great tips! Thank you.

  • Reply
    Damyanti
    March 4, 2019 at 5:02 am

    I need to practice Unitask and Saying no! Thanks for this wonderful list, Vidya.
    Damyanti recently posted…By: A Teacher Who Changes Destinies #WATWB #HelpMithuSaveSchool

  • Reply
    Vinitha
    March 4, 2019 at 6:29 am

    I loved this post, Vidya. It’s always the simple things that cause a huge impact. I am not able to multitask anymore. It’s not a deficiency, is it? I find my work getting done much faster and more enjoyable when I don’t switch from one task to another. Smiling more often can change the mood instantly. 🙂 I’m bookmarking this post, Vidya.
    Vinitha recently posted…Save a School #HelpMithuSaveSchool

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