What I’ve Learned After Two Days Alone

my workstationAs I write this, I’ve been on a solo writing retreat in Brunswick, Maine for almost 48 hours.

It is heaven.

Here’s what I love about it:

  • No interruptions
  • Don’t have to talk to anyone, much less three people at the same time
  • Any messes are my own
  • I can stay up reading as late as I want
  • I get to follow my natural rhythms

Those first four items on the list are unique to being on a trip by myself to a town where I know no one. I love those sweet questions that my kids can’t stop asking, and that my husband loves to share his thought process with me about the craziest things. I do. It’s just that sometimes, this introvert needs quiet.

But about those natural rhythms—I’ve gotten some great intel about how I work best and when. And I realize, I’ve got to incorporate into my normal daily life.

Here’s how my ideal work day goes in isolation:

I roll out of bed between 6:30 and 7 and do some light yoga and 10 minutes or so of seated meditation. Then it’s tea and some deadline-oriented work. Once I’ve crossed something pressing off the list, I am so energized that I like to do something physical around 11am. I get some great insights about the bigger-picture projects that I’m working. Then I come home, get dressed for the day, fix some lunch, and settle in for a meaty 3-hour-or-so work session. Around 4, I like a change of scenery—a coffeeshop, or taking my laptop out to the garden (and since this is also a mini-vacation, this includes a glass of wine) until dinnertime, which according to my body is about 6:30. After the evening meal, it’s some puttering or reading. Then an hour of targeted TV viewing while doing some mindless computer work—posting on social media, answering emails, administrative stuff. In bed by 10:15 or so to read until I pass out.

This is my zone, and I’m already realizing that next time I do this for myself, I need to stay a minimum of five nights. Three is way better than none, but it’s just not enough.

Back at home, with the kids and their schedules, I clearly won’t be able to replicate this—there are drop offs and pick-ups that come right in the middle of time when I like to be productive.  Cooking for four takes longer than cooking for one (I typically cook and my husband typically cleans up). There’s night-night for the kids, which actually occurs around the time when my brain likes to shut down, so that’s actually pretty compatible with my natural flow.

But I can do these things, once I’m back home (where I am probably en route to as your read this):

  • Stop feeling bad that I’m not diving in to the big-picture stuff as soon as I sit at my desk
  • Clear my afternoons for chunks of 2-3 hours
  • Aim to exercise at 11 or 11:30 most days, even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood
  • Limit that nightly hour of computer to 3 nights a week, so I have quality time with my husband once the kids are in bed—the couch on our porch beckons!

How about you? What do you know about your natural rhythms, and what little changes can you make so that you’re working with them instead of against them? I’d love to hear in the comments of the web version of this post.

Also, check out my latest posts for Acacia TV—an affordable and top-quality fitness video streaming service. They have tons of yoga practices and great strength-builders too!

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