A Mindful Work Set-up to Get More Done With Less Stress

Getting work done can be a challenge. Maybe you are working on an important project. Your bookkeeping might be piling up or taxes need to be completed. You might even just want to catch up on your email or have some reading you want to get done. All of these tasks need your focused attention to complete.  Without a plan, monkey mind will creep in and you may “wake up” to your behaviour in 45 min wondering how you got onto searching through Amazon or getting up for yet another snack.

Lucky for you, there are some straightforward ways to organize your environment, technology and yourself to supercharge your working focus. Nothing is foolproof – you can always undermine your work if you are not disciplined – but this mindful workflow may help you get some more traction in getting more of what you want to be done each day.

Focussed work starts with good boundaries

If you want to really focus on a task, commit to doing it in as many ways as you can.

  • Schedule time on your calendar for this task and make sure you don’t have other tasks or appointments that will conflict with your mindful work session.
  • Make your personal commitment to work a public commitment by telling work colleagues and family that you are going to be working. Let them know for how long you will be unavailable and to not disturb you during this time.

Make your working environment match your mindful work intention

We tend to resonate with our environment. I mean this in a very practical sense. If you are in a scattered, chaotic environment, you will struggle to not be distracted. Conversely, a simple, quiet environment removes external distractions and allows the mind to focus more on the task at hand. (This is the same recommendation, by the way, that is made to set up an area to meditate in.) Keep these ideas in mind when setting up an area to work in:

  • Find a quiet room or area away from visual distractions and interruptions from others.
  • If possible, close the door or use headphones or earmuffs to block outside noise.
  • If you have that door, put a do not disturb sign on it.
  • Unplug or mute your phone.

Set up your mindful workspace

Now that you have a mindful environment to work in, you need to do the same for your immediate workspace:

  • Arrange all of the tools you will need for the job around you…and NOTHING more.
  • Prepare your workspace ahead of time, like the night before, so you can get started working immediately.
  • If this task is one that you do on a regular basis, consider making a project kit or workflow to be ready for each time you work on that specific project. This means putting all of the tools for that project in one place, like a box or a drawer (even if you have to buy a duplicate item to have on hand, like a pen or scissors). This will save you spending precious work time searching for all of your stuff when you want to get started.
  • Make any final washroom trips, get a glass of water or drink of your choice and grab anything else that you need to work.

Mindful-ize your tech

If technology is involved in your work, get your laptop or smartphone into a state so it can be helpful to your mindful work and not be a distraction waiting to happen.

  • Put your device into do not disturb mode or turn off notifications. You don’t need new emails, texts or social media posts vying for your attention.
  • Close any programs that are not needed for the task at hand. You do not need visual temptations or unforeseen distractions. (There are many apps available that turn off access to specific websites or apps that you might want to look into.)

(For more info about how to mindfully use your smartphone, check out this previous blog post.)

There are always more things to help keep you focussed

  • Set a timer 20 or 30 minutes and then stretch your legs for a few minutes before starting another working block. You can set the timer for longer than that, but do not have work sessions for longer than 50 minutes, as it is hard for adults to generally focus for longer than that.
  • Place a blank notepad with a pen beside you to write down any thoughts or ideas that come to you while you are working. This is an important tool because instead of diverging from your work to look into that thought or using up precious mental real estate trying to remember it, you can just jot down a quick reminder on the notepad and then return to work confident that you have captured it for later.
  • Play non-distracting music to help you stay in the groove. Generally, it is recommended to stick to instrumental music, without a catchy melody, so you don’t have new, exciting info for your mind to attend to. Alternately, you can stream white noise or a brainwave focusing “binaural beats”.

Not all tasks need the same level of focus and mindful support. Take from these suggestions the ones that you think will help you most and try them out. Add your own focussing tools to really make this mindful workflow your own. Most of all, make mindful working a priority for yourself. There are always important things that you want to get done. If you don’t make the time to do them and give yourself the supports to help you follow them through to the end, your mind will just slip off to the next shiny object and another opportunity will be lost. You deserve better than that. So, make mindfulness part of your workflow and add a little more satisfaction to your day.

by Kurt Frost

Kitchari – An Ayurvedic Cleanse Staple

Kitchari literally means a mix or a mess, so this dish is a mess of rice, usually Basmati, and beans, usually mung beans.  Mung beans are the easiest bean to digest.  The spices are traditional Indian ingredients, but there is no reason why you can’t experiment with others.   It’s a very grounding dish and is great to enjoy after a cleanse or to eat as a cleansing food.  If you’re eating this dish specifically to give your digestion a break, limit or omit spicy ingredients like red pepper flakes or cayenne.

There are thousands of variations of kitchari in Indian kitchens (like masala chai – everyone’s tea is different). This Sugar Ridge version, with amped up ginger and cardamom gives the dish a depth of savory.


1 cup mung beans, soaked
1 cup basmati rice, washed
1 large onion, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger root
1 tsp ground cumin (or use whole seeds)
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tsp black mustard seeds (optional)
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
2  cups water
1 can tomatoes with their juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (a handful if you don’t want to measure)
¼ cup fresh mint chopped (about 8 – 10 leaves)
Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or sea salt to taste
3 to 6 cups veggies:  potato, squash, green beans, snow peas, cauliflower, etc.


Rinse the mung beans and rice together under running water until the water runs clear.  You can soak them together overnight if you want, or for a few hours before you cook this.  Soaking helps the grains to come alive a bit and reduces the amount of time needed to cook. 

Drain and discard the soaking water.

In a large pot with a lid, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add your choice of seeds and toast until the mustard seeds pop. Add the other spices and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the beans and rice and stir until they are coated with the spice mixture.

Add the water and tomatoes, with their juice, to the pot and bring to a boil. Break up the tomatoes as you add them into the pot.  Lower the heat to simmer and cover. Cook until the beans and rice are soft, but not mushy, 20 – 30 minutes.

During the cooking process add whatever veggies you want to the pot and allow just enough time to cook based on the size and density of what you add.  Small pieces of potato need about 15 – 20 minutes while green beans need 3 – 5 minutes to cook through.  Serve warm with chopped cilantro & mint and either Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or sea salt, to taste.

3 Tips to Use Your Smartphone More Mindfully

By Kurt Frost

Our smartphones are often seen as a distraction or a necessary evil to keep in touch with our larger world or as a fun escape. Rarely do we treat these devices as mindfulness tools. This is exactly what yours can be if you take some time to consider how you can use it with your health and well being in mind. With some tweaks to the layout, settings and apps you download, along with some mindful re-commitment to your working relationship with it, your smartphone can be a great asset to keeping your focused and calm. We could all use a little more of that!

Below are a few tips to get you started on the path to mindful smartphone mastery. I will post more going forward, so keep checking back.

Decide what you want to use your phone for.

Though your smartphone is really just a mini computer, you really shouldn’t try to use it for all of your tasks. Some things are much better done on a tablet or laptop. Instead of using it as an everything device, think about what activities your smartphone can uniquely do the best for you.

If social media is a black hole you can get sucked into repeatedly throughout the day, consider only accessing those sites via your laptop. You can always add these apps back again later if you decide you cannot live without them. Just don’t sell short any opportunity to make your smartphone more mindfully in line with the things that matter most to you throughout the day.

Liberally use do not disturb to keep your focus.

If you always keep your ringer and notifications on, then you are basically telling your smartphone, and everyone else, that you are available all of the time, at a second’s notice. This contributes to feeling more stressed. Turn on the do not disturb mode on your device when you are having important conversations with others or doing deep work.

If you want to make a more radical, mindful move, try keeping your smartphone in do not disturb as a default and then mindfully check it throughout the day for messages and notifications. You can always turn it off if you are waiting for an important call, but the point is that you can choose how to consume the information from your smartphone and not be at its mercy when it has something new to give you.

Use reminders to keep yourself on track.

Every smartphone has some version of a reminders app. Add several reminders to the beginning, end and throughout your day to gently bring your attention back to where you want it. For example, you can add a reminder to do a short meditation in the morning or evening or to stop for a few deep breaths during a chronically stressful part of your day. Don’t rely on your brain to keep track of all of this for you. It will only add to your busyness and stress.

For more enhanced features, like being able to easily set hourly reminders or get mindful messages randomly sent to you throughout the day, there are multitudes of other apps you can download.

If you liked these tips, please email and let me know. If you have any questions or specific things you would like to know more about using your smartphone more mindfully, send that off to me too.

You may also wish to add your email using the link below to sign up for the newsletter for the Mindful Smartphone series. In it, I will not only post the latest blog posts but occasionally share new content and updates on my work to help you use your technology more mindfully.