Want to be more productive, focused and creative? Learning to be alone could be the answer – but ditch the cell phone first.
There is no doubt that technology can be a useful thing. However, there are drawbacks to constant connectivity, one of which is that we are never really alone anymore. A recent study has shown that 85% of us own a cell phone and 37% of cell owners say that they “couldn’t live without it”. But could there be some negative consequences to this constant connection? And would it be good for us to try learning to be alone once more?
Solitude has traditionally meant being physically alone. However, when we are alone now, we often turn to our technology to relieve any sense of loneliness and boredom. This could mean that many of us are never really alone at all. However, if solitude has so many benefits, it could be worth spending some time learning to be alone once more.
Here are five good reasons to spend more time alone:
1. Solitude allows us to unwind
Our brains are constantly on high alert and responding to input from phones. This means they don’t get enough downtime. The brain needs quiet time to consolidate information and to rest and replenish. Being alone with no distractions provides an opportunity to revitalize your mind and body.
2. Solitude helps to improve focus
Being constantly interrupted by technology means, you never get a chance to focus. Every time we are distracted from something important, it takes the brain a few minutes to get back on task. If we are frequently distracted, this means a lot of wasted time.
3. Solitude gives you an opportunity to find out about yourself
When you are constantly receiving information, it is difficult to have any quiet time to digest what is going on. When you spend time alone, you have an opportunity to get to know yourself and study your own thoughts, desires values and dreams rather than just following the crowd.
4. Solitude provides time for you to think creatively
Constant interruptions give you less time to think about things more deeply. It is only by thinking deeply that we can come up with innovative and creative ideas. If we all we ever do is receive information, we never have time to create something new. We become passive consumers of ideas and information rather than creators.
5. Solitude can enhance the quality of your relationships with others
By learning to be alone, you gain a better understanding of yourself. This helps you become more balanced and thoughtful in your relationships. You also go back to spending time with others refreshed and more appreciative of your relationships.
While there are many good reasons to spend time alone, it isn’t always easy in a world of constant connection. We are often expected to respond to calls, messages and emails almost instantly and we may feel we are missing some vital information if we switch off all our gadgets. However, to spend more time alone doesn’t necessitate abandoning our technology, but simply putting some boundaries around its use.
To craft some time for solitude, you may find the following suggestions useful:
1. When you have the opportunity to be alone, don’t resort to distracting yourself with your phone or other technology. Spend the time thinking, being mindful or creating something instead.
2. Don’t look at your phone when you are bored. If you are stuck waiting in line or on a bus or train, resist the temptation to jump to technology to relieve the boredom. Sometimes, we have to move through boredom to reach a place where we can be more creative.
3. Your lunch break can be the perfect opportunity to spend time learning to be alone. Instead of eating lunch at your desk while browsing social media, spend some time doing something else, alone. Take a walk, go to the park, visit a gallery, read a book, or even just sit on a bench and people watch.
4. Consciously set aside some time to spend alone each day. Turn off your phone, TV and computer. You may need to spend some time learning to be alone happily, so start with a few minutes if you find it difficult. It doesn’t have to be for long. Any time that you can spend alone with yourself to think, focus, relax, create or produce, is better than no time.
5. Find out your most compelling distractions and disable them. Use apps such as Freedom or Self control if you need help.
6. Schedule an extended break when you go a day, week or even a month without unnecessary technology. This can seem scary at first, but technology can become an addiction if we rely on it every single day.
Using Technology Wisely
Relying on technology to prevent feelings of loneliness or boredom is a new thing for us humans. So we don’t know what effect it might have on us in the long run. If you want to make sure you stay creative, focused and productive, as well as having more meaningful relationships, then commit to spending a little time alone, without your technology, each week.
How do you feel technology has changed how much time you spend alone? Share your thought with us in the comments section.