Some people believe that three is a crowd. When it comes to work, others think that two is just one too many. Solitude can do wonders when it comes to planning, productivity, attitude and decision making—assuming, of course, you’re of the right mind set.
Do you think Steve Jobs came up with all his brilliant ideas when Jony Ive was nagging him to go to Starbucks? Or, that the Dalai Lama’s many philosophical insights came while crammed into a meeting room with the other Lamas, and asked to think outside the box?
There are many benefits to individualism and working alone, allowing the mind to focus, free of distraction. So, for every worker pleased to be in an open plan free-for-all, from time to time, we all need some space to let our creative juices flow.
1. Reject Peer Pressure When it Comes to Decision Making
The wisdom of the crowds can go hang itself when it comes to making up your mind. How can a leader make a decision with office “yes” men or women backing them to the hilt, perennial naysayers dragging things down and those with agendas playing their own angles? It may be done for dramatic effect, but you’ll notice Donald Trump always turfs out the candidates before deciding who’s fired!
Your own confidence can take a hit in the melee of decision making. So, while it’s good to talk, that final decision, if it rests on your shoulders, should be taken alone, in isolation, without the bickering and vitriol of most heated meetings with arguments and counter arguments raging. Ensure you have all the notes and evidence on hand, but take the big plunge having considered all the information, distilling it into high-level pros and cons, without the pressure of everyone staring at you.
2. Time to Think Creatively and Deeply
Being alone also helps drive focus and creativity. Steve Wozniak basked in the monastic atmosphere of his HP cubicle over night, where he toiled after work hours on his first computer design. Even if you’re doing fairly standard work, doing it alone is likely to be more productive than with others, as highlighted by research into built-in response-interpretation mechanisms.
They suggest that even if someone else is in the room, or in sight, your mind can waver, causing you to think about what they are doing. It can be quite distracting. If you’re not sure about the benefits, try some simple time-based experiments to see how much more productive you are when working alone.
3. Artists Work Alone
The majority of great art, musical works, literature, all the way up to Alexey Pajitnov, creator of Tetris, were built alone by people trying to focus on their opus. Be it a business plan, a project or other creation, the modern world is full of advice, assistance, help forums and other sources of inspiration. However, at some point you need to lock yourself away from all that and focus on the task at hand.
Some of this might be down to personality traits or mental issues. Many geniuses have traits that appear on the autistic spectrum, but today it is more likely that the flow of interruptions is simply too great to let creative juices flow. That’s why anyone trying to solve a problem or craft a master plan should take plenty of alone time to get their head around the issues.
4. The Thrill of the Fix
Working alone means facing the challenge of solving the problems on the table without support. To some people, solving those problems is all the fun, while being alone allows anyone to thoroughly weigh up the consequences against the reward of a solution.
Setting short-term goals provides a constant fix of reward, and prevents burnout through stressing over one over-complicated boondoggle. Breaking those problems down helps the brain (which produces dopamine to manage creativity and reward), provide the necessary power to crunch through these problems and provides the great feeling that can drive people to becoming successful at working alone.
If you’ve never had the chance to try working alone, and find yourself frustrated or mired in more collaborative settings, then now is the opportunity to see if you’re off better going solo. Good luck!