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#250: Try Managed Solitude To Solve Problems

Saturday, March 06, 2010

How often are you by yourself every day? Not with the TV or radio on in the background or the children playing in the next room or your spouse hovering nearby. But, alone, by yourself in total silence?

For most of us, we get precious little time alone to simply think about our problems and opportunities.

It's sad, because research has shown that managed solitude works.

In his book, "The Magic of Thinking Big," author David J. Schwartz tells of a professional development program he conducted with 13 trainees where they were asked to close themselves off alone for one hour every day for two weeks with no distractions. They were to think constructively about anything that came to mind.

The results? Each trainee reported the experiment to be practical and worthwhile. One man discovered a way to resolve a problem with another company executive. Others solved problems about changing jobs, marital difficulties, buying a home and choosing a college for a child.

Each participant also reported gaining a much better understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses than ever before.

But the most important discovery they made after two weeks of managed solitude?

Their decisions and observations made alone during their solitude had an uncanny way of being 100 percent correct. They learned that when the fog of distractions is lifted, the right choice becomes crystal clear.

Managed solitude pays great dividends.

Try to set aside at least 30 minutes every day to be completely by yourself, perhaps before the family awakes or when everyone is off to school and work or at night after they have all gone to bed. Even while soaking in a tub of hot water.

Then do two types of thinking: directed and undirected.

Directed thinking is focusing on a major problem you're facing.

Undirected thinking allows your mind to choose what it wants to think about. Undirected thinking is helpful in self-evaluation, to answer a question of how you can do better or what your next move about something should be.

As Schwartz concluded: "Spend some time in managed solitude every day and think yourself to success."

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I very rarely get that alone time. It is something I believe is necessary. Thanks for the insight. I'm going to work on this.
    4054 days ago
    "They learned that when the fog of distractions is lifted, the right choice becomes crystal clear."

    I love having this knowledge now! Thanks so much for sharing!
    4055 days ago
    When dh is doing something on his own, I am doing something on my own. I could be at the computer writing, or answering mail, or doing my exercise, always thinking of something, maybe what I have to do during the day, or where I have to go, or how to add to my newest story. At night, I usually go to another room, as we have more than one tv, and sometimes, when nothing good is on I lie there and think of different things. Could be memories of the past where life was so different from today. Where you wondered if you would get butter after standing in a long line, so early in the morning, or if you would have enough stamps to get gas for your car, or if the milk would go stale outside in the cold, because you had no frig. These thoughts could all add up to a story line. Then maybe the thoughs would go to the grandkids who have more than enough, while others don't have anything, another story line. Sometimes, I might have a song come into my head bring back memories, or maybe a song I made up. It is so wonderful to just lie there and think and then the door will open and dh will tell me he can't find something and I have to come back to reality. LOL
    4056 days ago
  • TEDYBEAR2838
    Phew! That was a lot to absorb, but I think it might be a worthwhile challenge.

    4056 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4114015
    Thanks for sharing this, Lou. I used to be one that had tv or radio going all the time. DH taught me when we were forst gpomg together the value of solitude. I never turn tv or noise on until late in the evening and only for about 1-2 hours if that. It is true you can think much more clearly without the distractions.
    4056 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5411411
    This theory is absolutely correct. I always get my best thinking and problem solving done by myself with no distractions. Today while I was walking through the orchard with my dogs I wrote my latest blog in my head. Thanks for writing about this.
    4056 days ago
  • no profile photo CD2702433
    The past couple of weeks I have spent a lot of time driving back and forth between my mothers and my home where my husband is. I wish I could say that all of my thinking, in those ten hours of solitude are productive.
    As usual... love your blog Lou.
    4057 days ago
    I engage regularly in both type's of thinking: directed and undirected. I call the daily undirected "My Morning Pages". The directed thinking I call problem solving, but don't engage in it daily - mostly when a problem pops up or when I want to review my goals .

    Thanks for sharing this with us. "The Magic of Thinking Big," author David J. Schwartz sounds like a interesting book.
    TY Joy
    4057 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5375531
    I have found that Solitude along with meditation to be very relaxing. It helps me look at the big picture not just the little stuff that can bog us all down.

    Treasure Your Privacy
    4057 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/6/2010 10:05:02 PM
    Love this concept and the blog. Thanks for sharing with us. Love, Dawn
    4057 days ago
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