Mindfulness has been a bit of a buzzword lately, and with good reason. Definitions range anywhere from “being conscious or aware” to “focusing awareness on the present moment, acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations” and more.
Mindfulness is rooted in Budhst meditation, though it has widely expanded into American culture in recent years. The benefits of mindfulness are well advertised: improvements to overall well-being, improvements to physical health, and improvements to mental health.
While on a surface level, it may appear that mindfulness is best practiced on a pillow on the floor, we think there may be benefits to practicing mindfulness in everyday tasks and, yes—even in your content marketing.
Practicing Mindfulness in Content Creation
American work culture is largely centered around “the hustle” and getting as much possible done in a day. Key themes include:
- Do more with less
- Underpromise, overdeliver
- The dream is free. The hustle is sold separately.
- Just do it.
Just log on to Pinterest and type “hustle” into the search bar. Millions of inspirational quotes and visuals abound. Truthfully, there’s nothing wrong with a little motivation. The problem arises when we multitask to the point of failure on all the tasks. When we rush to accomplish things rather than dedicating the time and attention required. When we miss out on the entire experience of doing and creating.
I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
Thankfully, there’s a different way—even for bustling marketers that are on a deadline and a budget. Here’s the other thing: your work product—and the benefit to your audience—will improve. I challenge you to look at mindfulness in content marketing as a necessity rather than a luxury that can’t be bothered with in a busy day of work.
Take five minutes in the morning to just breathe.
Count your breaths up to ten, one on the inhale, and two on the exhale. If you’re like me, you’d much rather turn on Spotify, run through your Google Calendar, plan out your day, and shoot off emails first thing in the morning. That’s all the more reason to take these first five minutes in the morning to set the rhythm of the day. By taking the time before life has a chance to creep in, you reclaim your power over how you want the day to go rather than letting the day itself dictate how things are going to go.
Bonus tip: I like to (loosely) plan out my week on Sunday evening, listing out what I’d like to accomplish each day, punctuated with any necessary meetings or appointments. I include time for exercise and grocery shopping and any other self-care essentials, too. This way, I can fill in the blanks as things come up and have a holistic picture to guide me through the week. It removes some of the chaos from the day-to-day and equips me with a plan so I can take more time to pause and breath throughout each day.
Take mini breaks throughout your day.
Whether you do this informally or via the Pomodoro Technique, the important thing is to stop and refocus when you can. This is especially important for content creators (writers, designers, visual artists, videographers) who are involved in metacognition in completing their tasks. It’s a fine line between being fully engaged in the thought and creation process and being muddled with the debris of the thought processes themselves.
Bonus tip: When writing, it can be easy to become distracted with thoughts of the perfect final work product. This can actually impede the creation process. Rather than focusing on outcomes and objectives, try focusing on the act of creating. Notice the feeling of the keys under your fingertips. Hear the sound of the clacking of the keyboard as you type. Notice the words taking shape from left to right across the screen. Mindfulness in content marketing means observing, rather than judging, the experience of creating content.
Treat idea blocks with a short mindfulness exercise.
As creators, we rely on our imagination to supply us with endless ideas for articles, videos, social posts, visuals, and anything else we can get our hands on. But when we overtax our minds with negative drivel or runaway thoughts, there is less room for our raw imagination to do its job. You can clear your mental spam box with a simple technique. First, write a list of five content ideas in development that need to be fleshed out. Next, set a timer for ten minutes and find a quiet place free of distractions to get comfortable. Start with some deep breaths, and either count your breaths or repeat a desired mantra (e.g. “My mind is open”). Treat any thoughts that come into your mind during this time like clouds in the sky: acknowledge them, but let them pass. Don’t hold onto anything. When the timer sounds, look to your list and jot down (or voice record) as many ideas as you can related to each of the five areas.
Bonus tip: We tend to bring a lot of baggage and judgment to the table when we are having trouble ideating on a topic or concept. Taking ten (or more) minutes to clear the proverbial air and give our minds room to breath can unblock the channel of creation. This can be a beneficial way to practice mindfulness in content marketing every day. It may seem counterintuitive, but the more time you set aside for a mental refresh, the more efficient your mind becomes at completing the tasks. This actually saves time in the long-run.
Leave it for another time.
Sometimes being mindful simply means accepting that we’re not in a place to make progress on any given day. We may be beleaguered with unrelated anxieties or we may be too frustrated to tackle the problem head-on. That’s ok. In fact, it may be best to pick up this particular task another time. This shouldn’t be considered defeat, but rather a measured response to the realities of the day. It’s one of the wisest things content creators can do sometimes. If you’re not on a strict deadline and you have the flexibility to set it aside, move onto another task where you’ll be more effective. If you push yourself to create content in an angry, frustrated, or rushed state of mind, the final product will reflect as much. No one wants to consume that kind of negativity, and it certainly won’t do any favors so far as ROI is concerned.
Why practice mindfulness in content marketing? If your goal as a content marketer is to create authentic, meaningful, interesting content, you have to engage in those qualities as you’re creating. This requires some level of awareness around what it is you’re doing. The alternative could be a final product that is laden with the qualities that encircled you while creating it: half-heartedness, disinterest, dullness.
You don’t have to do every single thing listed in this article all at once. Ease in and try one to see how it feels. Even little things like checking your phone less or using a website/app blocker can go a long way in fine-tuning your mind to focus on what’s in front of you. The goal is not to punish or restrict you usual behaviors and routines but to unclog your creative channels so you can be a more effective content marketer—and person.