We live in a world of constant contact—a place that’s losing sight of the importance of being alone. Offices are abandoning cubicles in favor of shared desks and wide-open common spaces, and rather than sitting at their desks working independently, school children are placed in groups. It seems that a never-ending “ping” has become our culture’s omnipresent background noise, instantly informing us of every text, tweet, and notification. Even something as mundane as cooking dinner has become worthy of social sharing.
One result of all this social connection is that many of us rarely have any time alone. While we’re told that this connectivity is a good thing and that being around other people is necessary for a fulfilled life, you can certainly have too much of a good thing.
A study of 600 computer programmers at 92 companies found that while productivity levels were relatively stable within each company, they varied greatly from one company to the next. The more productive companies had one thing in common: they ditched the ultra-hip open office in favor of private workspaces that granted freedom from interruptions. Of the top performers, 62% said they had adequate privacy at work, while only 19% of the worst performers shared that opinion. And, among the low performers, 76% said they were often unnecessarily interrupted.
Solitude isn’t just a professional plus; it’s also good for your mental and emotional well-being. To get the most out of life, you must learn to enjoy spending time alone. The benefits of solitude are too numerous to catalog, but here are some of the best.
1. You recuperate and recharge. All of us—even the hopeless extroverts among us—need time to recuperate and recharge. There’s nothing like spending time alone to make this happen. The peace, quiet, and mental solitude you experience when you’re by yourself are essential to recovering from the stresses of daily living.