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Why Noise is Better Than Quiet

Why Noise is Better Than Quiet

    The sound of silence. It’s what many of us yearn for when working. We try to get away from all of the noise and distractions of our surroundings and get to a place – whether natural or virtual – to achieve that quiet space we long for.

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    But that’s not necessarily the best thing for you to do.

    I’m not suggesting that you attempt to do your work in a noisy coffee shop or while your co-worker is playing loud music, but what I am suggesting is that you learn to work with noise rather than try to get away from it. After all, noise can be your best friend if you let it.

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    Why Noise is Better Than Quiet

    The biggest problem with quiet is not so much that it is counter-productive to look for it (as in, it takes a lot of time just to find it), but that it can serve to be counter-productive once you do discover it. This may seem odd to you at first glance – as it was for me – but after listening to Dan Benjamin discuss the problem with quiet on an episode of his Back to Work podcast, it sunk in.

    Benjamin — and I’m paraphrasing here — discusses how we are not meant to work in a completely quiet or noise-free environment. In fact, if you’re out in the woods and you hear the crickets chirping and other sounds of nature going on around you — and then it all stops — it means that there is danger lurking somewhere. It creates a tension that actually inhibits progress (save for the source of danger, perhaps) rather than promotes it.

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    You need to learn to work with the noise. When it’s too quiet, your mind naturally wonders when the next shoe is going to drop – or when the next distraction is going to arrive. That takes your focus away from the work. To have a din of crowd noise or the hum of your heating system clearly audible while you are working away may be enough for you to keep you on task. For others, they may need the hustle and bustle of an office or coffee shop to keep them focused on what they are doing. Absolute quiet (or the removal of ambient noise) can really work against you in many circumstances.

    Benjamin’s co-host, Merlin Mann, takes it a step further by saying (again, I’m paraphrasing here) that if you can’t deal with the distraction, then you clearly don’t care enough about what you’re doing at that moment. I need to have some kind of noise going on in order to write. Whether it be some music in the background or the noise of my kids playing in the house, I need to have some form of sound happening around me so that it pushes me to get the writing done. My kids playing is a reminder that I need to push through the work so I can join them, but it’s also a reminder of why I’m writing to begin with: to provide for them.

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    When Quiet Works

    Quiet can be your best friend when you need to let your mind wander. There’s often nothing better to have around you than “quietude” when you don’t have to focus on one thing in particular. When you invite quiet into your world, you invite the possibility of noise as well. That means that the noise of your ideas, your thoughts, your plans and your goals that may not have a a chance to breathe otherwise can freely enter and leave your mind without fear of repression. That’s when quiet works for you – and when you need that time that is when you should work to find quiet.

    Conclusion

    Noise is very subjective. One person’s music is another person’s noise. But what you can accomplish while surrounded by noise of varying volumes can be very specific, because your mind (when disciplined and working on something important enough to you) can wade through the noise and get to the work. Quiet invites your own personal noise into your world, which can be the ultimate distraction unless you want all of it to be present.

    So don’t seek quiet to escape the noise – it can and will work for you. Seek to find quiet for the time to let your own personal noise come into play. That’s when counter-productivity can turn into productivity in both the short – and loing – term.

    (Photo credit: Portrait of Young Man via Shutterstock)

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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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    Published on April 25, 2019

    How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

    How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

    Have you ever felt limited in your abilities to do something you really wanted to pursue? Maybe it was an ambition you had, or an idea to start something. Perhaps it was an opportunity that came your way, but you weren’t able to take it because something held you back.

    Often, we’re unable to progress towards our goals because such obstacles stand in the way. We let our limitations stop or overshadow our abilities to see through to a goal.

    Yet, there’s one thing that we rarely think of to use when trying to overcome limitations.

    Creativity.

    What is Creativity?

    When I say creativity, I’m not talking about an innate talent. Creativity is a much needed, but often neglected, skill that everyone has! It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input.

    Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems.

    Everything, including brilliant inventions, cannot come from nothing; it all derives from some sort of inspiration. Creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.

    From this perspective, you can find creativity at play in many areas.

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    For example, Mark Zuckerburg rapidly became successful by taking the previously existing concept of social media, and combining it with an incredibly simple interface that appealed to a much wider audience. Uber and Lyft combined the idea of a traditional taxi service with an incredibly efficient smartphone app.

    Both of these examples connect different ideas, find common ground amongst the differences, and create a completely new idea out of them.

    That’s creativity in a nutshell, and anyone can improve theirs.

    Limitations are Actually Opportunities

    The advantage of using creativity, is to help you see limitations as opportunities. Take any limitation that you may find yourself facing, is there a way to look at things differently?

    Let me illustrate with an example.

    On the day of my son’s 5th birthday, my wife and I arranged a party for him at a children’s adventure park. His friends and family were all invited, and the plan was to have a long, fun day out to celebrate.

    However, the day didn’t go exactly as planned…

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    At Lifehack, we pride ourselves on a healthy work-life balance, so I wasn’t concerned about taking the day off to celebrate. But, on the big day, a call came through to my phone.

    It was a manager from Lifehack. He excitedly told me that a group of investors were quite interested in our business proposition, and were wanting to meet later that day.

    This was great news! A potential investment could be coming our way. But, I was already miles away from home and the office. Plus, it was my son’s birthday…

    I asked if I could call him back once we got settled into the park.

    To be honest, I was pretty certain I was not going to be able to make it. Asking to reschedule would be a risky request, but there was no way that I was going to miss my son’s party.

    My son could sense something was off, and he asked me what was wrong. So I let him know that I just received a call about a meeting today, but also told him not to worry as today was about celebrating his birthday.

    But like all kids, he continued questioning me…

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    “But daddy, is it important?”

    “No, of course not,” I bluffed.

    Then, with childlike intuition and creativity, he asked: “Can’t you just meet with them at the park?”

    And, then it struck me! This was the idea that I was missing.

    Even though my son didn’t quite understand that it would not be possible for the investors to meet me at the park, it made sense for me to simply do a video call!

    I could miss 25 minutes of the party to do a quick call while the rest of the party walked through the aquarium. And, in the end, that was exactly what happened.

    I called back my teammate and asked him to briefly explain to the investors why I couldn’t be there in person to meet, but would be happy to join via video. I took the call, and was able to spend the rest of the day at the park with my son.

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    Not only did my son enjoy his birthday, his simple idea led to a successful investment meeting that allowed us to get funding for a new project.

    This is where I was able to turn a limitation into an opportunity that enabled me to reach my success.

    Creativity is One Key to Success

    When you use your creative ability to turn your limitations and setbacks into opportunities, you’ll find doors opening for you in areas you may have never imagined.

    Remember, your attitude is also important when it comes to achieving a goal, and tackling a setback or problem. That’s because a positive attitude transforms not just your mental state, but your physical and emotional well being. It is the key to lasting total transformation.

    Check out this article to learn more about how you can tune your attitude towards positivity.

    So, the next time you’re feeling limited by your abilities, setbacks or challenges, don’t give up. Really look at the situation, and see how you can leverage on your creativity to find an alternative solution.

    Featured photo credit: Photo by William Iven on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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