Cultivate Silence.


The Harvard Business Review recently shared some insight on the importance of making time for "quiet time", a call to get beyond the noise. I'm fascinated with this concept, because my days are full of noise of all different kinds, some I choose and some I don't. It made me stop and think: how much noise can I eliminate and when can I set aside time to cultivate silence?

Why do this? Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Recent studies are showing that taking time for silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy, and conditions our minds to be more adaptive and responsive to the complex environments in which so many of us now live, work, and lead.

  2. Real sustained silence, the kind that facilitates clear and creative thinking, quiets inner chatter as well as outer.

  3. This kind of silence is about resting the mental reflexes that habitually protect a reputation or promote a point of view. It’s about taking a temporary break from one of life’s most basic responsibilities: Having to think of what to say. When we’re constantly fixated on the verbal agenda—what to say next, what to write next, what to tweet next—it’s tough to make room for truly different perspectives or radically new ideas. It’s hard to drop into deeper modes of listening and attention. And it’s in those deeper modes of attention that truly novel ideas are found.

  4. Author JK Rowling, biographer Walter Isaacson, and psychiatrist Carl Jung have all had disciplined practices for managing the information flow and cultivating periods of deep silence.

Here are some tangible ways to make room for more silence in your days:

  1. Wake up early: Establish a morning routine with quiet time built in to start your day with silence.

  2. Limit social media + screen time: New studies are showing that too much screen time can make us cynical: too much screen time is associated with a loss of empathy and a lack of altruism. Set limits on how much TV time, social media time and computer time you're going to allow for yourself. Try putting your phone in a drawer, writing out more things instead of screen time, and reading instead of TV.

  3. Get outside mid-day: Step away from work at some point during the day and do something different away from computer screens and phones, this will recharge your brain for the rest of the day. Healthy distractions allow our brains and bodies a chance to rest from looping negative thoughts.

Read the full HBR article here.