“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company” - Jean-Paul Sartre
We live in a world that rewards being busy and getting things done. How guilty do you feel if you take a whole day just to relax on the couch when you have other things to do?
There’s an addictive rat race to cross off as many things from your to-do list, as fast as possible. And because of this fabricated hype, we try to achieve more than we’re capable of and become overwhelmed.
Are you comfortable with being alone?
We create unrealistic expectations, such as respond to every email, exercise, make dinner, read a book, and get to sleep by 10 p.m.
These superhuman attempts to get everything done leads to procrastination, stress, burnout, and disappointment. But worst of all, the race to extreme productivity has robbed us of the ability to enjoy our own company.
A study conducted at the University of Virginia found that participants would rather subject themselves to electric shocks than be left alone with their own thoughts.
When you sit on the couch or take time to “relax,” are you doing nothing or distracting yourself with social media, emails, online shopping, etc.? Many would say the latter. We avoid boredom and being alone with our thoughts at all costs.
Yet it is moments of solitude that open the door to ingenious solutions and the clarity to make better decisions.
Productivity isn’t about getting more things done. It’s about getting the right things done while doing less.
So, how do you figure out the right things to focus on and the best way to tackle them?
Spend more time alone with yourself and embrace solitude. Plus, studies show that people who set aside time to alone tend to be happier, report better life satisfaction, and lower levels of stress.
While we might not spend time alone as often as we should, many people recognize the benefits of solitude. A survey of 18,000 people from 134 countries found that “spending time alone” was one of the top 5 activities people listed as most restful.
According to Amy Morin, psychotherapist and international bestselling mental strength author, “the busier you are, the more likely you are to benefit from some quiet time.”
In an article Morin wrote for Forbes, she said there are multitudes of studies that tout the benefits of solitude, but here are just a few science-backed reasons for spending time alone:
- Alone time increases empathy - Spending excess time within a certain circle can create a “we vs. them” mentality.
- Solitude increases productivity - Studies show being surrounded by people kills productivity. People perform better with a bit of privacy.
- Solitude sparks creativity - Being alone with your thoughts gives your brain a chance to wander.
- Being alone can help you build mental strength - Studies show the ability to tolerate alone time has been linked to increased happiness, better life satisfaction, and improved stress management.
You don’t need to set aside huge chunks of time by yourself to benefit from solitude. Start with 10 minutes of alone time each day. Silence your electronics and allow yourself to think.
While solitude may feel uncomfortable at first, creating that quiet time could be the key to becoming the best version of yourself.
Alone time may be one key to success, but what about setting realistic goals? Check out our eBook below on key financial metrics to measure your project performance.