Spending time alone is not just for introverts!
We’ve all heard a lot lately about how introverts and extroverts differ. One big difference is the greater need for introverts to have alone time to recharge.
That doesn’t mean that extroverts don’t need alone time too. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, work from home or at an office, or have a family or not, we all benefit from having some time to ourselves.
Why is alone time such a big deal?
In our culture, we really value the hyperactive, high energy person, the one who has too much to do and not enough time. We even call people who spend a lot of time alone ‘weird’. It’s somehow not acceptable.
With the constancy of devices that give us all kinds of ways to be distracted from ourselves, silence has even become feared. Some of us really don’t want to be alone. Ever.
The thing is, having some alone time is incredibly valuable. For you, your well-being, and your development as a person. It’s valuable for your work in the world. Your alone time is even valuable to your loved ones.
Here are 13 reasons why alone time is really good for you:
1. You’re more productive.
Let’s start with what might be the most surprising one. We are busy all the time because we think that working a lot means we’re getting a lot done. Nope.
Look at the most productive people on the planet, and you’ll see that they regularly spend time doing everything but working. They take time off. They pause during the day to rejuvenate.
That’s because alone time actually increases your productivity. When you’re surrounded by people, it’s easy to get distracted. When you’re alone, you can focus more effectively and concentrate fully. You actually get more done!
2. You have more clarity.
Filtering out all the things that come your way during the average day can be tiring. It takes energy.
When you’re alone, you can more readily decide what you want to have coming into your awareness. You can hear yourself think and sort through conflicting information.
That level of clarity is hard for most people to get when they’re in the presence of others. Finding some alone time is a quick solution to information overwhelm. You can then notice what’s most important to you.
3. Your memory is better.
According to a Harvard study, people form more enduring and accurate memories if they believe they’re experiencing something alone.
If you’re relying on your memory to do your work, absorbing the needed information alone has its perks.
4. You can do what you want to do.
If you work with people all day, or you have a family (or both!), doing your own thing is not easy. Sometimes, you even lose sight of what it is that you want to do.
Taking some alone time helps you tune in and listen to what is in you, where your wants and desires are leading you. You can even take action on it!
That freedom helps you feel lighter and more balanced. It’s nurturing.
5. You become a better problem-solver.
Albert Einstein once famously said, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
We can get stuck in thinking about a problem in a certain way, and can’t see the way out.
When you step away and spend some time alone, you break your pattern of thinking. Your perception and perspective shift, which often lead you to think about the problem in a new way. A solution may pop up, or you start on a new way of thinking that leads to a solution.
When it comes to fresh perspectives, alone time is crucial. When we are alone, we can more readily enter into meta-cognition, the process of thinking critically and reflectively about our own thoughts. Stale ideas become new and fresh.
Being alone means you stop absorbing other people’s ideas for a time. We often don’t realize how much other people influence us and our opinions.
As you step away from others, it gives you a chance to recognize how we are each special and unique. It allows you to give your own distinctive ideas more credence and weight.
7. You have more energy.
When you’re alone, you can truly relax and rest. You’re not being pulled in multiple directions by what’s going on around you. That resting time means rejuvenation, recharging your energy.
We often think of rejuvenating time as being big blocks of time like vacation or a night at home alone.
While those are certainly valuable, there’s benefit in mini-breaks throughout the day. If you work or live in a busy environment, even taking 5 or 10 minutes away from the hubbub to be alone is helpful.
8. You get to know yourself better.
When there’s a lot coming in from outside of you, it’s hard to listen to your own inner voice.
To get clear on what really makes you happy in small and big ways, spend some time alone. Then when you’re with people, you can really be you, not some version of you that’s just reacting to others.
One of the ways people can become unhappy is when they lose touch with themselves. Alone time is a great opportunity to really connect with who you are. We want the authentic you!
Whew, we can spend a lot of time trying to impress other people!
Wanting to be well thought of can cause us to hide our weaknesses and only share our strengths. That lopsided view of ourselves keeps us from connecting with people with vulnerability and sincerity. Not an easy thing to master.
Being alone gives you a break from trying to impress someone else. After getting in touch with how awesome you are, it’s a little easier go out into the world as the more rounded and real you.
10. You become more self-reliant.
When you spend a lot of time with other people, it’s easy to start acting by consensus. When you know other people’s preferences, it’s hard not to be influenced by them.
For women in particular, this can be challenging. Most of us have been brought up with the community as our focus, and to at least consider other people.
When you spend time alone, you can’t slip into seeking approval. And it keeps you away from the comparison game! You only have yourself to measure your behavior against.
11. You value the people close to you more.
After you take a break from relating, you can often return to relationships refreshed. People get the best social you!
Absence really can make the heart grow fonder, as you miss your loved ones’ company. You enjoy the time together more.
Plus, time spent on your own increases your empathy, studies have shown. You can put that to great use in the relationships that matter to you most.
12. You benefit from self-reflection.
You can choose to spend your time alone reflecting on what you value. What you value influences everything you do, whether you’re conscious about them or not.
If you become conscious about your values, you can then choose to act on them in a positive way, a way that really reflects what’s most important to you.
Self-reflection also lets you make meaning out of your experiences. Meaning making is important to your development and learning as a person.
13. You connect with your own inner wisdom.
I believe that we all have an inner wisdom, a deep knowing about what is best for us.
It is so hard to tap into that when you’re always engaging with others. Instead, taking time alone allows you to really go deep and connect with your intuition, your inner voice. Connecting with that voice is not only grounding. It’s also your best advisor.
Alone time is really valuable. Make time for it. Get up early. Close the door. Disconnect from your devices. Use your lunch time. Whatever it takes.
Many busy people even schedule alone time, because they recognize how important it is.
Now that you know the value of alone time, spend a few minutes and decide how you can build more of it into your life. It’s good for you!
Ursula Jorch mentors business owners and leaders to define their desired impact and build success on that foundation. Blending business strategy and leadership development, Ursula works with business owners and leaders to embrace their impact and empower their future. A 20-year entrepreneur, she is the founder of WorkAlchemy.com, a well-regarded speaker, and blogger.