As many of you know, I’ve been doing a bit of writing lately in an attempt to help all of you find balance between work and being able to take a breath and enjoy life. Yesterday, I read this amazing post by Eric Perry. The post, titled “How to have healthy alone time,” discusses the value and strategies for taking time to be by yourself, which really resonated with me.
I’m a pretty outgoing person and enjoy the company of others. Until recently, I assumed that meant I was an extrovert. Then, I took the Myers Briggs Test, and one of the questions went something like this: “Are you energized by large groups of people, or do you get your energy by being alone.” It took me less than a second to determine that I get my energy by being alone.
Perhaps this has to do with the fact that I spent decades of my life alone in a practice room pursuing an unattainable art form, but likely it’s built into my DNA. Since this realization, I’ve been working to find a bit of time for myself each day in the midst of work and family.
Many individuals I work with assume that alone time can only occur if they have a a multi-day experience by themselves in a place like the photo above. Although a retreat on the Tuscan countryside would be nice, I recommend trying to find alone times during small chunks of your day. Here are some suggestions and resources that may be helpful for you as you search for time by yourself.
- Schedule alone time–If you don’t set aside some time for yourself each day, you likely won’t get to it. Each person is different, but I get a lot of energy when I have a large block of time (usually at least 2 hours) to work on my own big ideas. No email, no meetings with others, simply time to think and get my ideas out. In our over-connected world, I don’t believe we are taking enough time to tackle big ideas.
- Quarantine meetings–This may be outright impossible for some of you, but, if possible, set a specific block of time to have meetings each week and stick to the time you’ve allotted. I generally will set one afternoon and an entire day aside for meetings. That allows me to give others a lot of options while also giving more time for me to think about big ideas.
- Take up a hobby–During my masters degree (I majored in bassoon performance), I remember getting to the end of my practice day and having the feeling like I hadn’t accomplished anything. When I would get back to my apartment, watching TV didn’t allow me to decompress. So, I took up cooking.What I love about cooking is that it takes intense concentration but it doesn’t involve my art or and of the pressures of the day. I am able to take a project from start to finish in a short amount of time, which gives me energy to get back to work the next day. I’ve found cooking and woodworking to be two areas for gaining some alone time.
Here are two resources that may be of help:
- Acuity Scheduling—This online scheduler that has been a game changer for me. Simply set your availability and place a link to your schedule in your signature. It has already saved me hours in back and forth emails with others trying to find a time to meet. Plus, it syncs with my work calendar! Click here to give it a try.
- StayFocused—I’ve used this for years and find it to be an incredible tool to help me stay focused when I’m working online. I often to start with the intent of doing a “quick search,” only to end up going down a rabbit hole for 30 minutes, effectively wasting the time I set aside to do the work. StayFocused allows you to block the sites that typically take your time for a set amount of time. It takes a little bit of time to set up but is incredibly helpful. Click here to add it to your Chrome browser.
What strategies do you use to find alone time? Let me know in the comments below.