It’s been a while since I set out to create a positive routine for the month. The idea behind this is that I focus on making one small change for a month, with the goal of creating a more purpose-filled life. They say that it takes somewhere from three weeks to a couple of months to create a new habit, so the idea is that if I spend a month doing something it will become second nature to me. If you’d like to join in and take some steps to create better rhythms and routines in your own life, I’d love to hear how you’re doing it.
The Sounds of Silence
I have long told myself that I need background noise to work effectively. The truth is that in some settings I have found turning on the radio or listening to music to be very helpful. When I worked in a cubicle, for instance, putting on my headphones helped to block out the noise from people around me. It helped me to avoid being distracted by my co-workers’ conversations, typing, phone calls with their partners, and so on. When my kids are home, turning on the radio helps me to block out the sounds of them watching TV, playing, fighting, or what-have-you.
These very specific situations where background noise was helpful aren’t the source of my belief that I need background noise, however. I’ve always believed it, and I suspect that it comes from two places. The first is a justification that I used to get away with watching TV and doing homework at the same time when I was a teenager. I wasn’t distracting myself – I needed the background noise of old episodes of Degrassi Jr. High to help me focus on my work. The second was my discomfort with living alone as a young adult. When I immediately turned on the stereo or the TV upon arriving home, I didn’t feel so lonely.
Now that my kids are both in school full-time, I find myself spending most of my working day at home alone. Today, I relish the solitude. I’m no longer uncomfortable with being alone in the same way that I was as a 19-year-old. I still turn on my radio as soon as I sit down to work, though, because like I said I believe I work better with background noise. Maybe that isn’t true, though.
This morning, I forgot to turn on my radio for the first 30 minutes I was working at my computer. When I realized that it wasn’t on, I paused to turn it on, and then stopped myself. I realized that I had actually gotten quite a lot farther in those 30 minutes of quiet than I normally would have, had I been listening to CBC Radio like I usually do. In the inevitable pauses in my work I did a better job of remaining on task when I didn’t have the background noise to distract me. I decided to try leaving the radio off for the rest of the day to see how things went. I can say that, after one day, I may be a convert.
We live in a world that is very rarely quiet. Noise pollution is actually a thing. It doesn’t just impact humans, either. Animals that rely on echo-location or vocal calls can be negatively impacted by all the sounds around us. That cube farm I used to work in is one example of a place where noise pollution is very high. This month, I’m going to try to combat it by embracing the quiet whenever possible, but most especially when I’m working. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Start With Small Changes
One thing I’ve learned on my journey towards a more purpose-driven life is that change happens best in small, bite-sized pieces. That’s why I’m choosing something that isn’t going to take much time. I may be busy, but I can make small changes every day to build a better life. I invite you to take on some small changes as well. What could you do to improve your daily rhythm or overall mood? And, what’s holding you back from doing it? Create a new routine, and leave a comment so that we can cheer each other on!