A typical day at Milanote, a software development company, might seem strange to most of us. The first half, before lunch, is reserved for quiet time. No talking. No meetings. No Slack, Facebook, or Google. In four years of such quiet time practice, they’ve seen a 23% increase in productivity, are less stressed, and even able to take Friday afternoons off, as they get a lot done during the week.
Amidst the hustle of daily life, inserting such ‘quiet time’ or solitude seems like a mammoth task. However, a multitude of studies emphasize the importance of spending time alone, and the impact it can have on our lives, be it at work, leisure, or with relationships. Here are three compelling reasons to seek some quiet.
Having your own time and space increases productivity. Although there’s word on the street about increasing interaction among team members and building offices without walls, studies show that having your own enclosed space at work has a positive impact on productivity.
In fact, companies have been rethinking the open office approach. Some realize that “without walls, there can be a lot of interruptions and distractions, making even the most diligent employee less productive.” As a result, companies are diversifying their workspaces to include quiet areas where employees can work undisturbed.
Solitude enhances creativity. Artists and writers are known to be brooders. But are they really brooding or reaping the benefits of alone time? Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American essayist and philosopher, shed some light on solitude when he said, “Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius.” Others from the creative community, like Thoreau and Marilyn Monroe, believe solitude acts as a catalyst for creativity.
These beliefs are now backed by science. Neuroscientists say that our best ideas might come when we are not fully engaged in our environment or in a task. Letting your mind wander is good, and such wandering needs us to disconnect from the world around.
Alone time promotes positive emotions. We are social beings, true. However, spending time on our own can go a long way in helping us feel better about ourselves, as long as it’s out of free will, and not forced. Research by Reed Larson, professor of human development at the University of Illinois, indicates that spending the right amount of time away from intrusions can reinforce positive emotions and even help keep depression at bay.
It’s important to note that getting quality ‘quiet time’ is different from feeling lonely. The latter can lead to a sense of loss and depression, but quiet time can leave you feeling enriched.
While you’re at it, try unplugging and get away from all your gadgets. Seems impossible to do? Start with a 10-minute stroll every day to find time for yourself. Going the Milanote way will then be easier.