Untitled: Quiet Moments
My eyes dart from the computer screen to my phone, to my notebook and back to the screen. In an effort to feel ‘productive’ I surround myself with ‘to-do’ lists, emails, meetings and actual work, all whilst listening to the latest podcast and catching up on instagram. After a week of feeling overwhelmed, overstimulated and overly stressed, I have come to the conclusion, I have overloaded on information.
Like many others, I am the finding the ever-increasing amount of data we process everyday exhausting and most importantly counter-productive. Having made this realisation, I am on a conscious mission to stop filling the micro moments between tasks with low quality information.
Social media is a massive part of my job role here at the studio but scrolling endlessly on Instagram has also been ritualised as part of my downtime, justified simply by the fact I am not working and enjoy seeing what others are up to. This low level information could in fact be causing more harm than good. By filling every moment of the waking day with a cacophony of likes, comments, observations and even glances, leaves virtually no time to be still, calm and thought-free. It's in these quiet moments that we are able to reflect on stimuli and create original ideas, self soothe in times of crisis and reduce anxiety.
My favourite ways to avoid sensory overload?
Avoid shouty labelling. Although not directly processed, the brain is constantly and unconsciously taking in information. Whether that is from your drinks bottle, your notepad or the ‘out of order’ sign on the printer. Inspired by a passage from Marie Kondo’s ‘Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up’, a book I recommend everyone to read.
Listen to your body. If you are feeling agitated or anxious due to sensory overload, get up and take a walk. Leave your phone on the desk and have 5 minutes to do nothing but express energy in whatever way feels most comfortable to you. I personally run a couple of laps around the studio carpark. It’s not too far away from work to feel guilty but far enough away to clear my mind even for a couple of minutes.
Avoid flicking between screens. To enter a state of deep work, all distractions must be out of reach. I either turn my phone upside down or leave it in my bag for the duration. To read more on this I recommend reading ‘Deep Work’, by Cal Newport.
Sensor the information you take in. You can only process so much information in a day without feeling overwhelmed, so make sure the information you do see is important and worthwhile.
And how do I embrace the quiet moments I consciously create?
Once a task is finished, take a moment to reflect instead of moving straight onto your phone to check emails you may have missed.
Schedule quiet time, being mindful that this means no notifications, emails, calls, or even reading a magazine or listening to a podcast. This is still sensory stimulation at a low level.
Push past the initial discomfort and know that everytime you resist temptation to check social media in these moments, is time spent improving your productivity and ability to work faster on the task ahead.