My family will be the first to tell you that I cannot work in silence. I cannot eat dinner in silence. I cannot read a book in silence. The voices in my head need to be kept at bay and background noise does that for me. I have the radio or television on constantly. If you asked me what I was watching or listening to I would be hard pressed to name it because I truly don’t pay attention to it, but just that droning on of a background noise allows me to concentrate on the task at hand. Why and how it works, I do not know. I just know it works for me.
Even in the midst of all of the background noise, there are still times I need to shut it all down and have quiet. The quiet I can deal with is outdoor noise. When I walk Henrietta I can relax and simply listen to the leaves in the trees, the birds in the woods, the cracking of brush which lets me know the deer are close by. Being outdoors with her is my “down time.”
I find that when I am out of doors or even in the shower (water is a soothing sound for me) I have the most incredible ideas. I can get out of the shower with an almost fully formed blog post or newspaper article. When I am outside I can come up with myriad blog post ideas. Those ideas may not come to me if I was sitting in front of the computer, though. I do always have an idea notebook with me. If I am driving or cannot write I will hit the “voice” function on my phone and dictate the message. I don’t want to run the risk of that idea being lost so I know I need to capture it.
If you have a hard time finding down time, here are some tips for carving out your own down time:
Yes, put it in your calendar. Write down, “Down time from 8 am to 9 am (or whatever time works), get away from the computer and smart phone and their distractions and let yourself unwind. If it works for you, you can go into a quiet, dark room and meditate as your down time.
Do you commute?
Traveling to and from work may find you stuck in traffic, and if that’s the case, turn off the radio and use that down time to your advantage. Be sure you’re still paying attention to the road, though.
Schedule downtime around your colleague’s schedules if necessary.
If you can only grab minute amounts of down time at work without interruptions you may need to let your colleagues know this is your time to work without interruption. You don’t need to tell them, “Hey, I’m trying to grab some down time here.” You can just tell them you need to focus on a project for the next hour.
Carve out a space at home for your down time.
Let the kids and significant other know that when the door is closed for X amount of minutes, it’s your down time and you’d appreciate not being interrupted. Go into a room that doesn’t make you feel as though you need to run the vacuum or otherwise clean it. Make your quiet space a place of relaxation. My downtime is being outside. If the weather isn’t cooperating I may go and sit in my car and take a drive to the water and watch the waves roll in. You need to know what relaxes you so you can incorporate that into your down time.
How can you take steps to have quiet time? Is it something to which you can commit?