noise at work

Noise an Drown Success

Written by: Alan Rodway

We need space to succeed, to think clearly, to make good decisions be happy … intellectually, emotionally, personally, practically and professionally. But so much of life is cluttered by noise; not just sounds but distractions and everything that comes at us or commands our attention during everyday life. Television, the internet, social media, radio, advertising, phones, email, computers, schedules, calendars, mobile devices, people, entertainment, traffic, and just being busy … are all culprits that rob us of genuine think and being time. They cause us to just cope and to get through the day. We don’t get the space we need to make good or better decisions, plan out some of our future, change some things that aren’t working, observe and listen to key things and people.

We have to first understand the impact the noise is having on us

… the stress, distress, lack of space, removal of you, lack of time to make higher level decisions, becoming someone we don’t want to be, etc. Awareness is everything so we have to look hard at how much space we actually have in any given week that’s there for the good things. And if it’s not much, don’t recoil because of the difficulty of fixing it … we’re all time poor but that can’t be used to justify staying in a situation of just existing or coping. Stopping some of the noise requires discipline and a higher level perspective.

And it’s not about taking breaks during the year to rejuvenate

.. they are just that … breaks that allow our minds and bodies to cope with what we put them through during each year (that’s why so many people become ill when they go on holidays .. their immune systems take a break as well, having held up for so long under the pressure we keep them under). Having little or no space during the core of our lives and then taking breaks to overcome that is illogical. We should create space during every week. It has to be a consistent thing; not an intermittent remedy to a fundamentally flawed approach.

Two approaches should be taken . First, the noise has to be reduced on a daily basis.

This is actually not that difficult … quiet time, walking / exercising without noise, meditation, relaxing with loved ones / friends, not checking mobiles, turning televisions, radios and other devices off, etc.

Second, there should be periods in our lives when the noise / the distractions are reduced to a minimum

… every three months, for at least a week. (And holidays should not be confused with reducing noise … some holidays have as much noise in them as our normal lives. Reducing noise means genuinely putting ourselves in a

situation where we can think, breathe, relax, regather, imagine, problem solve, create … undisturbed by the frequent interruptions most of us are used to).

It’s also important to be present, in the moment .

How often do you notice someone (you?) who isn’t actually present in the physical situation they’re in .. their mind is elsewhere? Be conscious of being present … it’s not only important for your own relaxed and conscious state, it’s important for the current situation and those involved in it.

The power of the subconscious part of the human brain is enormous.

We know that the subconscious receives messages from the conscious part of our brain .. pieces of information, problems, questions, senses of feelings. The subconscious then sets about its work in collating information, solving problems, coming up with ideas, creating behaviours. So, if what the subconscious predominantly receives is what we let through through via our daily noise intake, then it will work less on what we need it to do for us in the productive sense. The more deliberate conscious thinking we do, the more the subconscious can weave its magic for us from that. If our conscious brain is drowning in noise, then these are the throughputs to the subconscious … not a lot it can do with those for our future benefit. Our conscious brain should be consistently asking our subconscious brain to create and solve … that’s not going to happen as often if we don’t remove ourselves from the noise (frequently).

Technology itself can be our best friend or our worst enemy, depending on how astute we are at managing its use in our lives.

Technology can dominate, pre occupy and dehumanise. When it becomes noise, it needs to be deliberately and consciously stopped or reduced. It’s like email … email is one of the most efficient forms of communication we’ve ever created, but so many struggle with it unduly influencing their (professional) lives. That only happens if it’s allowed to happen.

Noise is even worse when we are under pressure 

..when it’s coming in over the top of an already high pressure situation. Call time out when this happens, for yourself. If it’s allowed to go on too long at too high a level it can become unhealthy, stressful, unenjoyable and even worse, can cause people to leave situations they could usefully stay in if they managed to ignore, manage, reduce or eradicate the noise.

What to do about noise?
  1. Be good at reading the signs . Take notice of how you’re feeling … cluttered, stressed, finding difficulty to think clearly, becoming overwhelmed. There obviously could be more at play than just noise causing these feelings, but consider the noise issue early as a possible cause.
  2. Don’t confuse taking holidays with dealing with noise; they may not. They may just punctuate noisy lives with some (possibly) less noisy times.
  3. Start your day earlier … that’s the brain’s golden time and it’s less noisy than the bulk of the day. Surely it’s not good for us to wake up, turn on radios, televisions, computers, mobile devices, get into our cars or on transport, etc. soon after waking up each morning.
  4. Have a process to manage email effectively and efficiently , so you control it rather than the other way around.
  5. Replace the artificial noise with the natural sounds of the world .. birds, breeze, trees, oceans, silence. It’s relaxing, invigorating, re-orientating and slows us down.
  1. Physically declutter your surrounds … car, home, work. Sure, there are lots of things we want to keep but if that gets out of hand, the clutter can become noise in itself … get rid of what isn’t ‘valuable’ to you (practically or emotionally).
  2. Retreat to silence , including setting aside a place at home. Escape the noise, with some regularity, to help yourself just be you, without the distractions of the loud, fast paced, modern world.
  3. Use of white noise can help … white noise is ‘a sound that contains every frequency within the range of human hearing in equal amounts’. It’s actually anti-noise technology to make unwanted sound less distinguishable to the ears. It’s sometimes used to aid sleep, pacify children or soothe migraines. There are several Apps (not a contradiction) that supply white noise. (There is even pink noise, a variant of white noise, that can have similar effects).
  4. Concentrate on the important tasks and use your self discipline to not be affected or disturbed by internal or external distractions. There are usually three or four things in each day that, when handled well, will generate success. Don’t sweat the rest.
  5. The conscious part of our brain can only concentrate on one thing at a time (unlike our subconscious brain that can handle many). So, ensure that one thing is the most productive. Multi tasking is not something that leads to effective output.
  6. Manage your health and energy levels well, with respect to sleep, stress, diet, exercise . Be kind to your body and mind … they are your engines that need to be kept in fine working order.

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