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There is a clock in the bathroom that has traveled with us to three states. It makes a beautiful, comforting ticking sound heard all over the house. Funny. I never heard it until I started to consult and work out of my home.

I am on the phone with a client and suddenly I notice that my neighbors all seem to have lawn service on Thursdays. The roar of trimmers and mowers feels deafening. Odd. I never noticed before.

Rocky, Sparkle and Chewy – a pug, a long-haired Chihuahua and a Yorkie – once owned the house in the daytime. Now, they share it with me. How did I not know that they bark to harken the mail carrier, the pool service, the neighbor’s son who is visiting? They even warn me of wind, rain and birds. They bark. A lot.

I found myself in my first week working from my home, always turning on Pandora. Thank goodness for Pandora. I didn’t know why – I never really had music on at the office. But after a couple of weeks I realized. A challenge with consulting – the quiet.

Marketing and public relations offices are not silent places. Creative types like stimulation. Some of us are very loud. Some of us are disruptors – the dropper-inners who always appear at your door as you start to concentrate. Without them, I am relearning how to work. It is amazing that I can generally focus on one thing at a time, and my products are much better than before. But I am still trying to come to a peace with the new sounds and more importantly, the sound of silence.

In thinking about sound, I stumbled over the work of Julian Treasure and his company, the Sound Agency. They work in the area of sound branding. Hmm. Who knew? They claim that their assessment of climate and introduction of particular music or sounds will increase your revenue or reduce crime or solve a host of problems. I wonder if the yapping of a Chihuahua in the background will help me increase my number of clients? I think I need the Sound Agency to offer me a better solution.

Moving from an office to a quiet space affords you much opportunity. I am working to focus on mindfulness, and silence helps a great deal. Truth is, I flunked mindfulness after trying to practice it for years. Now I give myself a C+ and am working hard to get to a B. Amazing that the quiet gives me the chance to live in the moment. There are plenty of distractions – the floor that needs vacuumed; the evil brownies you just made calling you into the kitchen; Netflix (curse you Netflix). But when I focus on the here and now and the task at hand, I am very happy- with myself and with the end product.

No book or consulting colleague ever mentioned sound. I thought I would share that it is an unexpected and noticeable aspect of consulting life. I use sound now to predict the time of day (dogs bark when: mail arrives at 12:30 p.m.; neighbors walk their giant poodle at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.; guy on next street who wears too short shorts jogs by at 1 p.m.). When I get writer’s block, I focus on the ticking of that wonderful clock. When I miss the office chaos, I tune in to Pandora ‘80s Rock. When I want to organize my projects and settle my mind, I revel in the silence. And, when I need to feel like the housework can wait, I throw a load in the washer and the hum of the machine makes me feel like a productive multitasker and relieves me of mom guilt.

I used to work very hard and it became my pattern to block out the open office conversations, the music from the marketing director’s office, the murmurs of meetings from the conference room next door. Now, I notice every sound. Every creak. Every snore from Rocky the pug. It is my new office environment, and it’s starting to grow on me.

Pug Snores, Mowers Roaring, Silence:

The Sounds of Consulting

A blog chronicling the up's and down's, trials and tribulations, fear and happiness of moving your life from the expected 9-to-5 job to a life of consulting. While it is a big and often scary decision, it is a time of discovery, rejuvenation and introspection that will help you remember who you are and who you were supposed to be. It's a wonderful journey.

Life Without Gravity