Noisy appliances, loud music and constant connectivity have become an accepted backdrop to modern living, says Monique Harrisberg, CEO of The Voice Clinic. It’s not only the constant sounds that invade our daily lives from loud domestic machinery, hooting cars and road works to the constant conversation and music drifting across our open plan offices but also the torrent of ‘noise’ that results from an ‘always on’ lifestyle.
As urban spaces become more populated, we are at a noise tipping point and need to rethink how we live our lives. As such, a new ‘quiet’ movement that stretches into every area of living, from work to travel and home, gathering momentum. It’s a trend called ‘ The New Sublimity’, a movement in lifestyle and work leaning towards escape, silence and time for contemplation. The idea is not that people are lusting after some kind of utopia, they still want technology and communications in their lives but the difference is that they are trying to manage it better, and realising that silence and time to think and let our minds wander, has real value.
In fact research has shown that too much stimulation impedes learning and productivity. Open plan offices, once thought to be efficient environments that encouraged teamwork, are quite the opposite, contributing to reduced work and impaired memory. In her book Quiet: The Power of introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking Susan Cain says these offices make people sick, unmotivated and insecure. Workers are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and elevated stress levels and get the flu.
In another blow to the urban warrior, the much lauded task of multitasking has been found by scientists to be a myth. A book by Peter Bregman called 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get The Right Things Done claims that scientists have discovered that the brain is incapable f concentrating on two things at one. We supposedly multitask; we are actually switching back and forth between tasks, which reduce productivity and increases mistakes by up to 50 percent.
With this in mind forward thinking companies are now providing spaces for silent contemplation and making a greater distinction between ‘on’ and ‘off ’time. Google insists their employees unplug from computers and phones for certain part of the day and offer bike and walking trails for informal meetings.
“The importance of nature and solitude is also a burgeoning theme in the tourist industry, with contemplation travel on the up. In a world that seemingly never stops, we’re waking up to the fact that the things we embraced so readily over the past few decades, from appliances and technology to constant connectivity, are not always necessary and as such we are finding our way through the noise and creating little pockets of peace,” says Harrisberg.
Contact The Voice Clinic in Johannesburg 011 880 2334, Cape Town 021 423 2488, Pretoria 012 342 5020, and Durban 031 303 1314 or visit our website www.thevoiceclinic.co.za for more information on our discounts.