As a natural introvert/learned extravert, I was excited to find an article in the HBR entitled “In a distracted world, solitude is a competitive advantage”. At last, my preference for quiet contemplation was being recognised.
The “Disconnect” movement is growing as we struggle to cope with the sheer volume of information coming at us every day.
The author’s argument is that information overload distracts us, causing a lack of focus and productivity. One of the solutions they recommend is that having the discipline to step back from the “noise of the world” is essential to staying focused.
Here are the steps they recommend for staying focused at work:
- Build periods of solitude into your schedule. 15 minutes a day is all you need (see the earlier blog on personal development time)
- Analyse where your time is best spent – and stay there
- Starve your distractions – especially the one you use for a quick time-killer
- Don’t be too busy to learn how to be less busy
- Create a “to not do” list
In reality, here’s how a devoted solitude practitioner (me) manages his time:
- Development day on Monday always starts with planning the outcomes I want to achieve in the coming week
- Walk the dog/meditate every day – it’s not as good as sitting in a garden, but I can listen mindfully to guided meditations on my headphones while keeping an eye on the dog
- Don’t stay at the office unless I have meetings – go home and work there
- Content development, which requires a lot of concentration, is in my schedule and is always done at home
Guard your solitude. Put the world on mute so you can hear yourself think.