In Oprah’s most recent interview with Lady Gaga, she asked the pop star what her creative process is when it comes to producing music. Gaga replied, in short: I cancel out the noise.
The noise in our lives can take on several different forms. It could be social distractions such as Facebook or Pinterest, or it could be everyday responsibilities such as children, cleaning or dinner. Canceling out the noise is often easier said than done–but here are some of the things that have worked for me in the past, that just might work for you as well.
1. Go to a quiet place
When I was set on going to business school, I resolved to study for the GMAT everyday until the test. I bought study guides and vocabulary cards, and I even calendared the chapters I should be working on in my daily planner. But still, days would pass without me even opening my books. Everyday, I would spend about 30-40 minutes commuting home, another hour or two unwinding once I arrived, and the rest of the night having dinner, talking to my family, and preparing for the next day. I just couldn’t seem to focus.
One day, as I sat commuting, I realized that if I found a place to study closer to my job, my chances of success would be much greater. So instead of sitting in traffic, I would drive straight to the local library (which was only about five minutes away) and begin studying immediately. The library was just the quiet place I needed to really get down to business. And because I didn’t give myself a chance to wind down, studying soon became just an extension of my work day. I was able to study for the test, find a new job and pick up an ongoing freelance writing gig all in the matter of a few months!
2. Turn everything off
I, like many other people, have fallen victim to social media addiction. But not only that, I am also a television fanatic. I spend/waste so much time texting on my phone, watching TV and browsing news feeds that it’s sometimes impossible to get anything done. My solution? Get rid of the distractions.
Since I know my vices, it really falls solely on me remove myself from those things so that I can truly focus. I’ve taken social network applications off of my phone, I’ve left my house to avoid the TV, and I’ve kept my phone in my purse to limit the number of times I check it. And you know what? I didn’t miss much by the time I’d finished whatever it is I was working on. No emergency phone calls, no breaking news, nothing. When you make the decision to focus, realize that the outside world is never more important than the goals you’ve set for yourself. Don’t be afraid to unplug.
3. Put yourself on a schedule
It’s so easy to get caught up in the everyday happenings of life. Birthdays, events, happy hours… you name it. But committing to yourself and your goals means penciling in time for you first.
You have to be willing to dedicate the time necessary to being creative or productive or fit or whatever. There was a time in my life when scheduling my day with tasks on the hour was the most effective way to get things done. At the beginning of each day, I would compile a to-do list and then choose the best times throughout my day that I could accomplish each item. By doing so, I was, surprisingly enough, able to breath a little easier knowing exactly what I needed to do.
Noise cancellation is possible for us all. But it takes discipline and self-motivation to really make it happen. When I can rid myself of constant distractions, I reduce my feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. And with a clear head, I can take better control of my life.
What do you do to cancel out the noise in your life? Tell me all about it in the comments below!