How To Find Some Healthy Alone Time

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 multi-day experience by themselves in a place like the photo above.

Although a retreat in the Tuscan countryside would be nice, I recommend trying to find alone time 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.

  1. Schedule your 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.
  2. 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 me more time to think about big ideas.
  3. Take up a hobby — During my master’s degree (I majored in bassoon performance), I remember getting to the end of my practice day and having the feeling that 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 any of the pressures of the day. I am also able to take a project from start to finish in a short amount of time, which gives me the energy to get back to work the next day.

Here are two resources that may be of help:

  • Calendly — This online scheduler 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 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.

Photo Credit: Luca Micheli

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Nate Zeisler is the Dean for Community Initiatives at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He envisions a world where students majoring in the arts have a clear path to a sustainable career, where creative minds are empowered and inspired to rule the workforce, and where access to the arts is not just for the privileged few, but for all.

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