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Time Alone is Time Well Spent

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[The following is a guest post from Matt Wolfe. He authors the How I Will Be Rich. I encourage you to subscribe to his RSS feed.]

Spend some time alone.
How often do you really get a chance to get away and be alone in silence? If you are like most people, in this day and age, the answer is not very often. Between work, school, and relationships, people seem hard pressed to find time to seclude themselves with their thoughts. When they do get some free time to themselves, they turn to the television or the radio for companionship. Believe it or not, just some peace and quiet, away from distractions, can be an extremely efficient use of your time.

Relax and clear your head.
After a long day at work or a rough day at school, it feels so good to just kick off your shoes and find a comfortable spot to just kick back and relax. It gives you an opportunity to reflect. Think about the day that just past and how tomorrow is going to be a great day. Allow your mind to wander and don't let yourself worry about a thing. I made a habit of doing this every single night. Usually this is when I come up with my best writing material; ideas just seem to come to me. When you're not trying to focus on anything in specific, your mind comes up with all sorts of great ideas. If you are trying to solve a problem at work, relax and let the solution come to you. Your brain is solving problems and creating ideas even when you don't know it. Your subconscious is extremely powerful but you need some time to allow those thoughts that are brewing in the back of your mind to make their way out.

You could be a genius and not even know it.
Some of the greatest minds in history attribute at least part of their success to the fact that they spent some time alone. Spending time alone allows you to really think deeply about your goals and your strategies. Albert Einstein was known to be a quiet person that spent a lot of time to himself. He was one of the greatest and most influential minds in history. Henry David Thoreau developed the reputation of a hermit because he spent so much time alone. He was a social personal and loved interaction with others but he made it a rule for himself to just spend some time alone. He's now got libraries worth of philosophies and incredible writings. Franklin D Roosevelt spent time bedridden with polio. Would he have been as successful of a leader as he was if he hadn't had all of that time to himself?

Confer with yourself and you may be smarter than you think.
Studies have shown that people who spend time conferring with themselves make better decisions and are more successful. The people who turn to the TV to avoid moments of solitude never really give themselves the chance to discover the great things that their mind has been working on. Set aside some time each week to be alone with your thoughts and let your body relax. I guarantee it will pay off, and who knows, maybe you will be the person to solve one of the world's next greatest problems.

Last updated on August 1, 2011.

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7 Responses to “Time Alone is Time Well Spent”

  1. Joseph Sangl says:

    AWESOME post!

    I actually reserve “thinking time” in my schedule to ensure that this happens for me. And my first book is at the publisher. I think the two items are absolutely linked!

    Without “thinking time”, I would not have been intentional about getting my thoughts into a book!

  2. Jacob says:

    Thinking time is probably better spent on introverts. Extroverts would be more productive socializing. The people mentioned in the article were all introverts. It would actually be an interesting study to see what personality type finance bloggers have? Anyone ever take the MBTI? I’m an INTJ.

  3. Patrick says:

    I agree with this article – at least for me. I notice that I function better if I just turn off the noise every so often. Don’t get me wrong, I love being around people… but I also don’t need an iPod plugged in my ears at all times, or need to sleep with the TV on.

  4. Matt Wolfe says:

    I wanted to say thanks to Lazy Man for posting my article. I really appreciate it.

    @Jacob – I agree that socializing is also a very productive use of time. I actually think that the people who can manage to balance the two are going to be the most successful. If you are excellent with people skills and love to socialize, you are in that much better of a position to sell the ideas that may have manifested themselves in your time alone….

    Thanks to all of you guys that posted comments! I am glad you appreciated the post!

  5. I think the point of the post is that socializing has gotten incredible easy compared to finding alone time (with family, relationships, jobs, etc.).

    What I’ve found is that, if you really want to have the time, you have to make it happen. That’s why I get up at 6am every day before work and read, work on my portfolio, blog, or whatever freelance job is on my plate for an hour 40 minutes before the rest of the world is up and I have to get ready for work. It’s tough once you start off but it quickly becomes habit.

    Don’t forget the coffee!

  6. Dr T says:

    I agree, I have recently been able to walk to work some mornings and have found that this little bit of time alone with my thoughts to be very useful and stimulating.

  7. fathersez says:

    The good Dr. T has beaten me to it.

    I have exactly the same thoughts. I have now started to get up a lot earlier in the mornings and do go for a walk sometimes.

    The cool air and quiet surroundings work wonders to clear the mind and focus on what is important.

    Thanks for the post, Matt

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