The most difficult part of practicing mindfulness and meditation isn’t the practice itself, but finding the time. If you’re reading this, you probably have a billion things to do every day. Maybe you have a family to run or kids to take care of or a job to tend to or a startup that’s calling your attention at all times (I can certainly related to that last one). How do you find ANY time to yourself? You don’t have time to breathe, so how can you possibly have time to enjoy the practices of mindfulness? I’ve written about meditation before, and the most common response I got was “Sydney, that’s well and good, but I can’t meditate. I don’t have time.”

I gave that exact excuse to a mentor at USC 3 years ago and he gave me the best possible reply: “The people who say they don’t have time are the ones who need it the most.”

So true.

I found a few ways to integrate mindfulness into my life. These are 3 simple things I do to practice mindfulness. What’s important is that you build it into your regular routine. If you don’t build the habit, you won’t do it. If you lose the habit, you likely have to rebuild it. Stick to it and reward yourself if you do. That’s how you build habits. Here are my habits:

Meditate 10 Minutes After Waking Up

I like to meditate immediately after waking up. I get up 10 minutes earlier than I would otherwise and jump right into it. No excuses. It’s only 10 minutes and it sets the tone for the rest of my day. Because I do it first thing in the morning, I never forget. I set my alarm. I wake up. And then I meditate immediately.

Write for 15 Minutes

Immediately after meditating, I do some very quick writing. It’s hard to keep the daily practice of writing because it’s easy to run out of ideas. I try to write about things that are happening to me in life and when I have to, I’ll turn to writing prompts and writing contests for ideas. Consistency is key. If you have no ideas, just write. Get through it. It’s worth it.

Short Jog In the Evening

Another routine. After work or after my last meeting, I always go for a run. I don’t eat dinner without going for a run first. During this run, I keep things light. Nothing stressful. Just light running. I alternate routes and entertainment. Every once in awhile, I like to run with no headphones and just enjoy the surroundings. Study everything around me. Enjoy the breeze and the sound of nature (or the cars around me if I’m near a street). Other times, I’ll enjoy a nice audiobook or podcast. Keep it light.

Reading Before Bed

I read several Commaful stories before sleeping at night. It’s a way to relax my mind and put myself into different worlds, emotional states, and more. I tend to look for scary stories, fanfiction, and jokes. I’ll read different things depending on my mood. The key is to not think too hard and to enjoy the stories. And then sleep time!

If done correctly, in total this routine takes just over an hour a day. It helps me a lot through my life. I found that I’ve been a lot more productive using this routine than I have been working from when I wake up to when I go to sleep.