I’m the type of person that likes to work in silence. I can’t concentrate with a TV on in the background, or music blaring from my laptop speakers. When I go for a run (OK, walk), I don’t take my iPod with me. I like to be able to think. In fact, I’m somewhat annoyed by the sound of the furnace when the forced air turns on and interrupts my pin-drop silence with its white noise.
But not my husband. My husband prefers to send emails from his Pandora-playing laptop while he sits in front of SportsCenter, and talks on the phone at the same time. To each his own. That’s my motto.
Typically, I just shut his door and go about my work. Downstairs. But then, I had this bright idea to make a “cozy home” and carve out “spaces” within our house. Which felt to me like maybe I needed an actual desk in an actual office, rather than my laptop balanced on top of the kids’ homework overflowing from the edge of the coffee table in the living room … just waiting to be eaten by one of our abundant animals. I thought that maybe if I could create a solid, grounded work atmosphere, I might relieve some of my daily stresses and be much more productive with my time.
I’m even waking up earlier to scurry into our now-shared office, close the door, and wade through my inbox before the chaos of finding my children’s socks begins. Grab my coffee. Light a candle (from my stockpile of pre-minimalist goods). Boot up my computer. Crack the window for some fresh air. And … Pure Zen.
Then my husband gets home from dropping off the kids. Boots up his computer(s). One for SportsCenter and IM. One for email and Pandora. Picks up the phone and starts dialing everyone in his Contact List. And then the HVAC kicks in.
Deep breath in. Deep breath out. This “shared office space” was my idea, afterall.
Then, I remember this article I read the other day about how noise can pollute your mind. Because, what we might consider “background noise” is not in the background at all. It is constantly being processed by our brains. Our ears are so highly evolved as to hear, listen, process, and determine our safety. We have to be tuned in to everything in order to keep out of harms way. It’s in our genes. Staying alert to keep away from predators. To stay alive. This is why, for example, a shopping trip at a busy mall, or a “relaxing” walk down a busy city street (with horns and sirens screeching) keeps us on high alert. It is not relaxing at all. Our brains are busy processing, processing, processing.
If you’re anything like me, you know we have enough over-processed “stuff” in our lives. So now, here’s how our days are shaking into place … I get up and work in the wee hours of the silent morning. My husband returns to the office and turns it into a Circus while I take conference calls downstairs. I go for a walk in the great outdoors. He leaves for work. I return to my Zen Zone and get more productive work done. Like clockwork. It’s what we like to call our little juggling act.
Now if I could just find that clown nose …