Office Hours

"University professors post office hours. Mine were recently Tuesdays 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. and Fridays 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Students know I am available during these hours. If they cannot make one of these times, they must make an appointment. Faculty do not make themselves available all of the time; often the door is closed so that other work may get done.

"When it comes to your mind, however, do you give thoughts 24/7 access? Do you worry all throughout the day and even in the middle of the night? Are you constantly on call to your mind?

"A benefit of mindfulness practice is developing cognitive boundaries akin to office hours. We don't have to give noisome thoughts unlimited free access to attention and consciousness.

"One tool that I teach people is scheduled worrying. Like office hours, a dedicated time is given to worry and kvetching. During this time you mindfully allow yourself to project into the future, mull over the past, write things down, problem-solve, and dwell on fears and worry about outcomes. And then, when thoughts present themselves with urgency outside of this dedicated time, you can remind them with gentle firmness that office hours are at 3 p.m. and they'll be dealt with then.

"Mindfulness practice develops the skills required to set up 'inner office hours.' "