tune out the noise

How to Tune Out the Noise at Work

tune out the noise

Before we end our discussion on simplicity this month, we wanted to share with you the article Diane Paddison wrote on LinkedIn for April. She talks about how to simplify life at work and keep your time outside of work protected. Check LinkedIn each month for more original articles by Diane!


Raise your hand if you barely have time for an extra cup of coffee each day. Americans have shifted over the past couple of decades from striving to balance work and play to glorifying busyness and viewing those who leave little room for downtime as inspirational. In their article on Harvard Business Review, Silvia Bellezza, Neeru Paharia, and Anat Keinan conducted studies and found that “the more we believe that one has the opportunity for success based on hard work, the more we tend to think that people who skip leisure and work all the time are of higher standing.” (source)

On the 4word blog this month, we’ve focused on simplicity and how to invite more of it into our lives. I am a firm believer in not glorifying busyness and instead focusing on finding best practices for streamlining and leaving plenty of room each day for self-care and spending time with those you love.

We will never be able to completely avoid being busy and having hectic times in our lives. It is the world we live in, and that same world tends to expect us to operate in that kind of environment naturally, too. The workplace tends to be a major hub for busyness and “I barely have time to breathe” days. In an effort to spread my mission for more simplicity, here are some of my tips for simplifying your workday.

technology distraction noise

Tip #1: Turn off the noise of technology

I know what you’re thinking. How can I work without technology? Hear me out! I’m not talking about going back to a pen and paper, but I am saying take the few minutes to turn off your alerts and notifications. Your work day doesn’t need anymore distractions, and if someone needs to get in touch with you that bad, they should know how outside of social media.  

When I was working full-time in the corporate world, I never had “noise” from my email, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other technology tool. Even now, as I work though the day, I will only look at my email or check voicemails after I finish calls or projects. I only check Facebook once a week and jump onto LinkedIn as notifications come through via email. Setting up a firm boundary around leaving “distracting” technology off to the side of my work for the day is my best tactic for staying present with those l speak and work with and not getting pulled away from finishing projects.

responsibilities distraction noise simplify

Tip #2: Turn off the distraction of other responsibilities

To think of responsibilities being a distraction from responsibilities may make your head spin, but it is definitely a cycle we all tend to fall victim to! We have our list of “must get done today” tasks and we start our days with every intention of staying focused on getting to the end of that list…and then a client emergency pops up, or your coworker wants your opinion on an upcoming presentation deck, or you remember that PTA meeting coming up that you still need to get refreshments for. Before you know it, it’s closing time and you only got half of your responsibilities for the day crossed off.

Today, I work out of my home. I put in at least eight hours of focused work each day before I tend to household chores or any tasks or commitments that fall outside of “work.” My daughter Rose and I just talked about keeping focused on your work, as she works from her home, too, and allows chores distract her. When I was the president of Global Client Services at CBRE, Client Accounts, I would tell my assistant, Theresa, that I would be in my “other office” for two hours. She knew that I was going to my quiet thinking place at Starbucks where no one could find me, so I could focus and not be distracted in the office.

plan timing simplicity

Tip #3: Have a plan

“Fail to plan; plan to fail.” We’ve all heard some version of that, and it is absolutely true, especially for professionals! Each morning when I work out, l write down the key three things I must accomplish that day, my BIG tasks. I really encourage actually writing down or typing out your to-do list each day and having it in front of you throughout the day. Even someone with the best memory can get distracted. And isn’t it incredibly rewarding to be able to cross something off? Armed with a plan for your day, you are equipping yourself with laser-sharp focus and the ability to confidently say “yes” to other things that may pop up throughout the day.

Are you ready to invite simplicity into your life? It’s all about setting boundaries around what absolutely must get done every day, and leaving yourself room and grace to turn off your work side and enjoy life. Doesn’t that sound nice?

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