Let's Talk About NOISE!
You guys remember that dog character in the movie "UP" that sees a squirrel and gets completely distracted? He can't finish a thought and totally disrupts a normal conversations with friends because of something he hears/sees/smells? Yeah, I can relate on a deep personal level to good ole' Dug The Dog. If you haven't seen the movie "Up"- do yourself a favor and watch it. Like right now. Wait- don't. Don't let me distract you!
Staying on task and focus has always been a problem for me throughout my life. Some friends and family think it's a cute Katie-quirk and appreciate my Dug The Dog moments. Others find it very annoying. I struggle with focus probably due to having unrealistic dreams, coupled with the best of intentions and an attitude that things will just work themselves out, which is usually be to my determent. I often start out guns ablazin', but quickly peter out due to various distractions, (such as reality!) and end up procrastinating or just throwing in the towel completely. The opinions and energy of others creeps into my brain and I let it affect my own productivity, and use any interruption as an excuse to put things off.
Getting real about the reasons WHY I let distractions affect my inner voice so much is something I'm still figuring out and working on. However, I have realized that all the created noise is something I can majorly quiet on my own. When I say "noise", I mean literal noise and figurative noise.
Dealing with literal noise can be a challenge if you live in a busy household with kids, pets, extended family, roommates, or lots of other comings and goings. Hopefully you have your own private space you can retreat to when doing your daily meditation or prayers. Maybe you just need a quick minute to take some deep breaths and refocus your mindset. If not, asking for a "quiet hour" (or even 15 minutes!) from those that live with you is something I would encourage. Turn off the TV, the computer, and ask for no interruptions so you can quiet your mind and thoughts.
Figurative noise is it's own beast, one that I've been trying to regulate myself and I'll tell you friend, it's not easy. These types of noises are things like social media, influence of opinions, reactions and attitudes of people you've surrounded yourself with, work distractions...you get the idea!
For me, I found myself starting my day being bombarded with other people's noise, right off the bat, by my own choosing nonetheless! Right when I woke up, I'd immediately reach for my phone. I'd head to Instagram, Facebook, then wrap it up with answering as many work emails as I could before headings upstairs. I'd put the phone down and head upstairs where I would usually immediately face questions, needs, and tasks for my family. "Mom, I need pants!" "Mom, I forgot I had a test today, can you help me study real quick!" "Babe, can you make sure you email this client back today?" All while having Netflix on in the background or the music blaring while I scrambled to get everything done. Whew! I was stressed from the chaotic noise within the first hour of my day!!
I realized this routine was no longer working for me when I made it a goal to check in with my inner voice throughout the day for three days. I realized I could barely hear my inner voice mostly because of all the figurative noise I was surrounding myself with! My mind would wander to "I wonder what this person is up to?" "Oops, I forgot to email that person back!" "I can't believe he/she did/said/acted that way". I needed to "sssshhhhhhh" myself and here's what I came up with. I hope it helps you too!
- Don't start your day on your phone or laptop. You might think a quick hop on Facebook or Instagram is harmless, but I promise you the eventual feelings of comparison, FOMO, negative comments or memes, so-and-so's dramatic post, that hot news story, or whatever the topic of the day is, WILL drain your energy if your not in the right mindset to look at it. Try to away from social media until later in your day.
- Give yourself 2, 15 minute breaks to chill and calm your mind every day. My favorite break is the morning. I get up, make and pour a big cup of coffee, and look out my windows at the birds and squirrels outside (yes, I'm a big nerd who thinks all the animals are my friends). I try to control my thoughts and focus on daily gratitude and affirmations.
- Don't participate in drama. This one is a toughy because drama is EVERYWHERE is and it's inevitable. Heck, I am only human and sometimes I'm the one causing drama! The key is finding a few close family members or friends who let you rant and help you find actual solutions, bring you back down to Earth, and maybe even make you laugh, rather than just fueling the fire. I've also been working on purposely excusing myself from situations that may create toxic energy or ones that I foresee hindering productive personal growth.
- Get outside daily with no distractions. Yep, I mean leave those earbuds on the counter people! Create outdoor quiet time by going for a walk, sitting on your porch with a drink, gardening, feeding some birds at the park, riding your bike...these are all great ways to turn up the volume of your inner voice and sort out feelings of chaos or commotion, discarding negativity along the way.
- Put a screen time tracker app on your phone. I use "Moment" and it shows you not only your screen time, but how many times you pick up your phone. I was shocked and embarrassed to see how much time I spent on my phone! Set a limit for yourself and stick to it!
Noise is a tool we use to distract ourselves from our own issues. How much noise are you currently allowing in your life? You are the one that controls it, no one else! I challenge you to get real about your current noise level, make a game plan to deal with it, and limit distractions! You'll find your productivity increases, along with your positivity and inner peace.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Comment below and let's get the discussion and support going!