Modern living has increased both the choices available to us and also the volume in our lives. In short, there is distraction everywhere.
Even the once safe havens (libraries, bookstores and cafes) are not immune to the incessant beeps of incoming messages on smartphones, overly loud personal stereos and personal conversations that are anything but.
We now have to be reminded to turn off our handsets before a film starts in the cinema. What next?
Days filled with escalating noise and distraction has become a default state for many of us.
How to Live Quietly in a Noisy World
How do we find tranquil calm and quiet in a world so full of potential distraction? How do we find time for a little stillness in a world of motion?
1. Seek out quiet time.
For me this involves early morning walks before the rest of world gets going. It gives me a chance to let my thinking fall into place. I think with clarity at this time without any interruption and it can often set the scene for the rest of my day.
For you, something different may work. Perhaps your quiet time comes at the end of the day, when the chores are done and the children are in bed. Or perhaps it comes in the middle of the day with a walk in the park to break up the demands of the day.
Maybe it’s a visit to your favorite bookstore of choice with coffee in hand and smartphone switched to silent. Whatever works for you make sure you prioritize this time. Make it special, look forward to it and plan for it.
2. Disconnect yourself.
More of our time than ever is spent plugged in. When we’re not online ourselves, our phones still beep away with messages and alerts. Many of us have forgotten the power of just disconnecting for a while.
We can take control of how we receive information by switching our alerts off and being selective with how we check in. We can impose online limits to ensure the internet doesn’t become one big distraction. We can switch our phones to silent more often.
3. Tune into frequency “you”.
For some this will involve structured meditation or yoga practice. For others it may just involve a few deep breaths in a quiet room and a focus on tuning into our own thoughts. Whatever feels right and fits is likely to be the best approach. This needs to be simple to implement, the gateway to entry needs to be low, to stand the best chance of becoming habit.
Focus on clearing out any cluttered thoughts. Focus on quietening your mind so your thoughts can become crystal clear. Focus on you.
4. Go off the grid.
The rest of this list focuses on habits we can incorporate into the everyday, this one is a little different. We actually take ourselves completely out of our usual environment and seek out some quiet and calm.
This could involve a spa or yoga retreat, a mindfulness camp, a hiking break or a holiday somewhere very chilled out and relaxed. The important thing is that it is a contrasting environment, one where we can find some stillness.
5. Tune out the external clutter.
The noise is here to stay and if anything, is likely to get noisier. As effective as options 1 and 2 are they are not necessarily always practical if we work in a packed office, full of noisy colleagues and have an important deadline to meet. This means we also need to become effective at shutting out the external noise and just focusing anyway.
This is part skill, part practice and part art. Many methods can work but often the most simple are effective. Just putting our heads down and getting on with the task at hand can mean others around us leave us to it.
If this doesn’t work, we can also set clearer signals to make sure it’s obvious to those around us that we’re in the middle of some industrious action, or some industrious thinking, and not to be disturbed.
Tuning out may take some practice and is always a bit of a work in progress. However, with a little focus and commitment you’ll get there.
Put these steps into your bag of tricks and you’ll soon be finding your own quiet time in even the noisiest of places.
*Note — This article was originally published at Huffington Post.