#4 Prioritize Alone Time & Just BE
Productivity. Produce. We Americans are all about productivity, doing more, getting more done, multi-tasking, more return on equity (ROE for us business types), etc. etc. etc. Get more done. Improve productivity! (You’ll get the George Clooney reference and the connection to productivity at the end. Got your attention, thought – right?)
But being productive isn’t achieved by only DOing. By taking the time to BE, you’ll help yourself be more productive. When’s the last time you let yourself just – BE? It’s not about meditating, although it could be. Some say they aren’t into meditating because they can’t sit sit still crosslegged for long or they think the whole mantra thing is rubbish… I think, however, meditation is more about BEing with yourself than the way you sit, hold your fingers, or mantras
Have you ever been in a tense situation, lots of activity going on, shouting, people running around, noise, clanging, crashing, whatever – lots of noise –people yelling questions or directions… (those with a houseful of kids probably know what this is like) – and you hit sensory overload and have to scream “ENOUGH!! –Be quiet – I need time to think!” This is the catalyst for our 7th step to creating a more simple and fulfilling life in 2018.
Prioritize Alone Time – and Just BE
Even when your conscious mind doesn’t recognize this – deep down your subconscious knows when it’s had enough and just needs some quiet time to think. How can you tell? Your blood pressure, your skin tone/ breakouts / fever blisters, the number of colds you catch, the weight you gain (or lose), the not-so-great-decisions you make, the snappy comments you regret, the negative self-talk, and yes… the lack of productivity or creativity.
Being alone, without an objective of getting anything done, per se, is hard for most of us. Like learning any skill, taking alone time and feeling like it’s giving you any benefit can take practice. But, trust me. It’s a good practice. You can calm your mind (or at least slow it down a bit) and give yourself some mental space. The benefits of alone time are physical and real. If you don’t believe the Heels and Teva Divas, Psychology Today backs us up:
Your brain needs to rest and reboot just as your body does, which is why sleep is so important. We know many of us don’t get the amount of sleep we should, what we do get isn’t always restful, and even the restful sleep is hampered by dreaming – which doesn’t give the mind much downtime. A rested mind equals better decisions, more patience, more creativity and better productivity (and we’ve already established how important that is.).
Alone time gives you the opportunity to think, generally, and to think about yourself, specifically. When we’re “ON” all the time, going and doing we’re focused externally. Heels and Tevas is focused on fun, vibrant women who’ve spent a lifetime focused externally and we’re now at the stage where we’re more able to – and more motivated to focus on ourselves. Not only what we want – but who we ARE. Or, want to be. This kind of thinking doesn’t happen when we’re planning the dinner party or playing online solitaire – even if we are alone. Planned alone time helps you to think more deeply and hear yourself; some call that observing the observer, observing the voice in your head and recognizing it as distinct from the being doing the observing. (Getting deep here, but stay with me…)
Being alone and having the time to decompress, think and rest can also help to improve relationships. We’ve already covered how alone time will help increase our boiling point (aka: more patience). Maybe that will enable us to hold our tongue when we’ve told someone what day you were going to dinner with the neighbors and they still made other plans for the same day.
What do you DO when you’re alone? You can DO nothing, if that works for you. Just BE. Again, some of us are not about to DO nothing (aka: meditate). For those folks, how about writing with a pen and paper? “Write about WHAT?”, you ask. Nothing – Or, everything. Just write whatever comes into your mind; the Observer is writing what is observed. If you find yourself writing a grocery list – just stop it, and then start again; meditating longhand. Whatever gets you into that “flow” is good. Painting? Writing? Quilting, Knitting or Sewing?
Your alone time doesn’t have to be indoors. If it’s not -10F (-26C) go for a walk. Alone. Without your earbuds. Go for a run or a bike ride. How about yardwork, if you’re a gardener.
How to Find Time to BE
All in all, it’s a small and very simple thing you can do to improve your being (and productivity), prioritizing alone time regularly. A few things you can do if you are thinking “I’ll never be able to do this!”
Get up a bit earlier. While this one might be tough, setting the alarm a bit earlier (or setting it at all, for some of us), even 15 min earlier than normal will be a good start. It’s 15 minutes people. Come on.
Turn off the TV. Turn off the computer. Put down the phone or tablet. Sit down and just be. Giving up the episode of Forensic Files you’ve seen twice before or waiting 30 minutes to watch the next episode of The Crown won’t kill you and it certainly won’t change the storyline.
If you’re working outside the home and have a door, close it. You can leave a sign on the outside that says “NO Interruptions” – unless of course there’s a fire… or George Clooney stops by for a visit.