Do you even feel bombarded with information, questions, communication at work?  Maybe even to the point that it's hard to get anything done?  I've talked about the Pomodoro Time Management method and how to incorporate some of its concepts, but a company in Australia has taken quiet time to a whole new level.

Navy, a small design firm, has instituted half of each day as quiet time - no phones, email, talking, music, etc.  Remember quiet time back in kindergarten?  It was hard to settle down at first but then it was peaceful, a break to calm down and think about things. Could quiet time at work do the same?

It's hard to get any kind of quiet in most companies these days.  Collaboration is important, to the point where many companies in Silicon Valley have moved to open floor plans, but it can also be overwhelming.  Some companies even have tried 'no meeting' days to work around the down side of this collaboration - but 'no meetings' is not the same as quiet time.  Imagine putting on your headset, turning of your email and IM, turning off your phone, and working.  For three hours straight.  Saving up all your questions and comments until quiet time is over.

I think it would be frustrating at the start.  We're so used to working in interrupt mode that sitting back and consolidating our questions, comments, and discussion topics to work on at a more appropriate time is an activity that has fallen by the wayside.  But like that elusive kindergarten experience, once you get used to it you would actually have space to think.

Could this work in your company?

Maybe not three hours a day.  Navy adjusted to making one day a week 'meeting day' to try to consolidate communication even further.  But even an hour a day would be a good start.  Just imagine - a solid hour every day to work without interruption.

Will people actually adhere to it?  This company found ways to do make that happen.  The agile development pattern of a daily stand-up seems to have worked for them - asking what people plan to work on and what they need before quiet time - that would probably get any burning questions answered before you start.  And although Navy started with half a day, it seems to me that most people could manage an hour a day.

Navy found that it took quite a while for people to be able to actually settle down to quiet time - just like kindergarten!  We simply are not used to it.

Certainly there are people in every company whose jobs make this difficult, even for an hour a day.  (Customer Support comes to mind.)  I think you'd have to get those people some closed doors. 

Many companies have work at home programs, where everyone can stay at home one or more days per week.  Right now, the caveat of this is that those people need to remain connected - but what if quiet time was at the beginning of the day and no one looked at email, their phone, or IM?

I think it's worth a try - the luxury of time to think is a powerful draw.  If you're in a small company, maybe you can convince your management to try it.  If you're in a large company, maybe you can have a small group try it and see how it goes.  Or maybe you could take a shot at quiet time at home for an hour here and there and see if that makes a believer out of you.

Want more information?  Take a look at the original article or see what the folks at Navy have to say themselves.