Tuning Out — Tuning In Raising the Barr Weekly Memo: Issue 448

Laurel and I enjoy sitting outside in our screened porch. In fact, that porch is the reason we built this home and moved in almost 30 years ago. We love gazing at the trees, listen to the birds in our peaceful surroundings, which gives us a chance to clear our heads from the daily chatter that creeps into our thoughts and cloud the mind. It is also where and when some of our best ideas originate.

Our next-door neighbors decided to improve their yard by tearing down their deck, rebuilding it with a free-standing screened hut, replete with TV and electronic screens that move up and down with the touch of a button, and a gas lit fire pit adjacent to this church like structure.

It starts every day at 7 am. The work crew arrives, analyzes the last day’s work, and begins anew with trucks, table saws, landscaping equipment and cement chutes churning out globs of concrete. There’s not a moment until 7 pm that the clanging cacophony ceases except when we pray for rain and when our prayers are being answered. The cycle will come to an end soon, but not soon enough as the summer is quickly fleeting and our opportunity for quiet time outdoors will soon be ending.

How do we drown out these extraneous noises in our lives so we can release the tension and find some space to reflect, renew and thrive?

I wear a headset and pump up the jams to the music that I love to hear, or get involved in a great book that transports me from the racket around me, or take my dog for a long walk, or escape to one of my favorite pickleball courts.  

In our daily work lives, we are often distracted by physical or digital noise such as a barrage of emails, social media or phone inquiries that demand our attention. The key for me is to fully focus on the project at hand, block out that background noise that resembles a stone in the shoe. By changing locations, moving to a new space, or increasing the volume of my headsets I am able to maintain my focus and stay on task.

I’m really looking forward to the fall days enveloped by crisp evening air and colorful leaves sitting around my neighbor’s blazing fire pit. After all, I’ve put in the time hearing them transform their yard, it’s only fair that we get to enjoy the fruits of their labors.

I hope that as we slide out of summer and into autumn, we can all screen out the noise and chatter, appreciate our surroundings and remain productive and creative.

I’d like to hear what you do to reduce distractions and noise and keep yourself focused on your tasks.

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