Susan Meier Hamilton identifies the need for solitude and how to find it in a noisy world.
Once upon a time, I spent 8 hours a day completely alone, working from home. I am an introvert who needs solitude to recharge my batteries and focus, and I enjoyed that. These days, the vast majority of my time is spent in the company of 4 other people who are, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, also now working from home.
It’s been an adjustment.
Of course, togetherness is good. But creativity experts and academic researchers agree that some amount of solitude is one of the key prerequisites for creative productivity.
I’ve developed some quirky hacks. Sometimes I work in the bathroom, because it has a door that locks. (It’s a large bathroom, so this is not as gross as it sounds.) I use my devices to create virtual boundaries – it turns out the very presence of earbuds is enough to deter all but the most tenacious of supplicants. Never mind that I can’t concentrate if I listen to music while I work. No one but me knows there is nothing streaming into my ears.
Solitude is really about autonomy. Autonomy is a particularly important precondition for creativity, because creativity is all about being independent in one’s thoughts and actions – even when we’re collaborating.
The quest for quiet is not unique to remote work in a pandemic, nor is it limited to introverts. Businesspeople of all kinds in all work settings often lack the solitude and autonomy necessary to think creatively. Interruptions from phones, meetings, and live humans continually impede the free flow of ideas.
In one large pre-pandemic study, 60% of people said they were most creative in private environments – calling into question all those open office plans. And let’s not confuse ‘solitude’ with ‘solitary.’ 30% of those who preferred private spaces said they were highly collaborative there.
You may not want to lock yourself in a bathroom or fake an obsession with Spotify. I get it. Here are some other ideas for how to find the solitude you need:
Key points include:
- Finding privacy
- Taking time out to “hear” ideas
- The creative benefits of relaxation
Read the full article, Searching for Solitude, on susanmeierstudio.com.