happiness

Seeking Solitude: 17 Ways to Find Time for Yourself

Photos by Giampaolo Macorig and Jillhudgins.

In today’s world we have loneliness, but rarely solitude. Western culture tends to portray anyone who wants solitude as being anti-social or unhappy. But, as I’d like to argue, getting more time by yourself can actually increase the quality of your communication. Instead of surrounding yourself with the crowd, you can focus on having real conversations.

Why Spend More Time Alone?

Staying connected at all times seems to be the addiction of the 21st century. Instead of having real conversations and social interactions, people are just filling up their alone time with noise.

If being disconnected for a few days or even a few hours gives you shivers, it’s probably because you haven’t learned how to be comfortable with your own silence. But if you can fully appreciate just being with your own thoughts, you can fully interact when you’re with people. Here are a couple other reasons to carve out more time for yourself:

Improved productivity. It’s amazing what a few hours of uninterrupted work can accomplish.

Time to think. Your brain is your best tool, but how can you use it properly when being constantly distracted?

Lead your own life. If you’re constantly part of the group, you’ll do what the group does – even if it doesn’t reflect who you want to be.

Pick your own friends. If you’re willing to spend time alone you can be more choosy with who you spend time with. Instead of settling for people that dull you mentally and drain your energy, you can pick friends that engage you.

Inner peace. There is a reason monks spend so much time meditating alone.

Creating More Time for Yourself

Here are a few tips for how you can set aside more time to be by yourself:

Work Offline. Unplug the cables when you work to prevent the temptation to constantly stay connected. The time you save from wasteful internet usage means more time to spend having real conversations after work.

Close the Door. Have a closed-door policy when you work. Hanging up the Do Not Disturb sign will ensure that other procrastinators don’t have the chance to interrupt your flow.

Morning Ritual. Wake up early and squeeze in an extra hour to think before work. This process can also give you time to focus yourself before the day.

Park the Car. If your house is busy, park your car somewhere quiet after work. This can guarantee you some alone time to think, read or plan out your goals.

Set Aside Interaction Time. It’s better to toggle between meditative solitude and complete social engagement than to be constantly half-engaged, half-detached. Set aside time to completely focus on family or friends.

Read. Adopt the reading habit and use books as a way to enjoy your own solitude.

 

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Start a Hobby. Work on a creative activity in your spare time. With increasingly busy lives, hobbies are starting to disappear. But a creative pastime can allow you to explore all those creative ideas you can’t pursue at work.

Run. Running by yourself can be a great way to focus yourself. Whether you listen to music or follow the beat of your own footsteps, running gives you quality alone time.

Turn Off the Tube. Television can be a substitute social life. The characters and situations can seem compelling enough that you start to see them as friends, instead of moving pictures on a screen. Turning off the television when you are alone means you’ll be driven for better quality social interactions and more reflective solitude.

Meditate. Spend a few minutes just focusing on your breathing. Shift all your awareness into your breathing, the muscles in your body or the various sensations around you. Meditation can help you appreciate silence.

Chores. Focus yourself when doing chores. Cooking, cleaning, washing or errands can become activities that center you throughout the day.

Five Minute Thought Breaks. The next time you feel the urge to check your e-mail, spend five minutes just thinking instead. Focus on your current surroundings or the work you plan to do next.

Stop the Music. I love listening to music. But silence can be better for focusing your thoughts. Turning off the iPod or radio for a few minutes during your commute can give you a chance to think.

Weekly Reviews. A big part of GTD is the weekly review. Weekly reviews are a chance to check over your goals and projects, reorganizing your approach for next week. They are also a chance to get quality solitude time in your day.

Redesign Your Life. Alone time can be your chance to redesign the elements of your life. When you’re constantly connected and trying to interact, you don’t have time to evaluate those connections.

Once Per Day Online Communication. I only check online communication once each day. That means only one stop on my inbox, Facebook and feed reader. This rule not only allows me to enjoy more quiet time during my work, but it forces me to actually meet people when I’m feeling social.

If you want to combat loneliness in your own life, become a master of solitude. If you aren’t fully comfortable being by yourself, you’ll never be able to truly connect with other people. I prefer to abandon the idea of introverts and extroverts and instead focus on the person who can be completely engaged with people and also completely peaceful in solitude.

  • http://financialphilosopher.typepad.com/thefinancialphilosopher/ The Financial Philosopher

    “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” ~ Blaise Pascal

    Thanks for the post…

    • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

      Thanks for the quote. I’d never read that one before, but it makes a lot of sense. How many people do you know who can’t stand to be alone?

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com Peter

    Personally I need an article that involves “17 Ways to be More Sociable” :) . Great article though!

  • Arppis

    I found this refreshing to all the social ones in my oppinion, people should really learn to enjoy the silence.

  • http://www.upbeatbrain.com Mike

    This made me think of Anthony Storr’s “Solitude: A Return to the Self.” It’s a nice read along these lines.

  • http://www.purposepowercoaching.com Chris Edgar

    I like this piece, and I’d add that solitude and silence are also valuable in that they force you to deal with the inner critical voice that tends to be louder when there’s no distracting noise around. People use television, music and other distractions to drown out their negative thinking, but that thinking doesn’t go away just because we’re surrounded by stimulus — it continues to run our lives in more subtle ways. Only when we have a chance, in silence, to hear the negative things our minds are constantly repeating to us, can we find ways to process them and let them go.

  • http://www.varsityblah.com/about Eugene (Editor, Varsity Blah)

    It has to start with slowing down and learning to unplug. I wrote about it recently:

    “It’s about eliminating everything you don’t need and filling your life with what you do. Since then, I’ve stopped watching TV (except for my favorite shows), stopped listening to annoying DJs on the radio, stopped watching the news bulletins several times a day, cut back my online subscriptions from nine to two, and cut back my print subscriptions from five to one. It may be hard to let go of all the data, but do you honestly need to check your email and other messages several times a day? Besides, if anything that important happens, you’ll know. Why not spend some time discovering the likes of Tolstoy and Twain, something I recently decided to do? I’m up for the challenge and can’t wait to get started!”

    (Extract from Need for Speed)

  • http://www.howtowakeupearly.com Early Riser

    Waking up early is one big gift you try to give yourself. Do you accept it or not is up to you…

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  • Coleen Renaldo

    This was a great article! Sometimes silent makes people uncomfortable but you need to spend time by yourself to truly understand yourself fully!

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  • http://experiencingseattle.wordpress.com/ Harini Saladi

    Such

  • http://experiencingseattle.wordpress.com/ Harini Saladi

    Such a great article! I’ve tried so many times to find a balance between “being by myself” and “interacting with my environment” and have failed miserably at it on all accounts! But I still try and I think I’m only getting better at it :-)

  • http://www.vajinalar.org bakire vajina

    have failed miserably at it on all accounts! But I still try and I think I’m only getting better at it

  • http://www.sismebebek.org şişme bebekler

    are so many things you can do for yourself.

  • Tyler

    That was an EXCELLENT article. I have been longing for some solitude for quite sometime now. Ive been waking up early (before everyone else is up) To get some alone time in the house. I might even try to go out for a walk at the nature preserve or in the creek early in the mornings soon,to get some fresh air and enjoy the awakening of nature.
    Solitude is definitely one of those things many people take for granted…or look down upon,when actually solitude is a beautiful thing and is very healthy for the soul.Im a lonely guy,so Im looking for solitude and embracing whatever I can.
    Im going to take this advice,and hope for the best. Thank you very very much.

  • Daniel Munyi

    Scott – Well written and exellent!

    I like the waking up early bit;it is something I am trying with great success but also periods of failure. It is heroic to get up on time but equally heroic to sleep on time. The former depends to a great extent on the latter.

    Then I make use of a meditative book such as “The Way”-J. Escriva- to help focus my thoughts during this precious time.In fact one of the meditative points in this book talks about waking up on time as a sacrifice “that stengthens the will and does no harm to the body”

  • http://www.beginners-meditation.com/ meditation sound

    Thanks for a very great article. It is indeed essential to take a break for a while and make time for ourselves.

  • http://bird-houses-for-sale.org bird houses

    Good stuff you have here, I was going to mention this to a good friend of mine

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  • http://stateofsolitude.wordpress.com/ Sandeep Coolboy

    very nice article. 

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  • Neicey

    This makes sense unlike another article I read on a similar topic.

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  • Outadate88

    I like your ending comment about introverts and extroverts. Keep up the good work!

    • mumsyknups

      Actually, that comment was a dumb one in an otherwise good article. Introverts and extroverts do exist, and it’s stupid to think you can just brush off these distinctions as though they are not valid and helpful, which they are.

  • prashanth

    Its a nice article. 

  • Bendemen

    So many people do confuse solitude with loneliness. Sometimes you need to be alone to think and people of my age (21) mostly don’t understand this.

  • John

    Awesome article. Will try my best to follow. :)

  • Guest

    It is
    really true. If we aren’t fully comfortable being by ourselves, we’ll never be able to
    truly connect with other people.

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