In today’s cyber age and constantly connected world, isolation has become a lost art. In fact, Western culture tends to equate a desire for solitude with people who are lonely, sad, or have antisocial tendencies. But seeking solitude can actually be quite healthy. In fact, there are many physical and psychological benefits to spending time alone.
Imagine a situation like a complex assembly line, If you are doing a particular task and the person across from you is doing a different task, you’ll be slowed down regardless of their performance.
The reason for this is a built-in response-interpretation mechanism that is hard-wired into our central nervous systems. If we see someone performing a task we automatically imagine ourselves performing that task. This behaviour is part of our mirror neurone system.
When an individual could see their partner actually performing the task, the partner’s performance interfered with their own performance, causing them to perform more slowly. When the partner left the room and the individual could only see the results of the partner’s action – not the action itself – the interference effect was no longer observed and performance improved. We believe it’s because the individual no longer represented – or modeled — their partners’ actions, even though they could see the results of these actions.
In a situation where speed and accuracy in performing a certain task are important, an argument could be made for a work setting in which people work in isolation — or at least with people who doing very similar tasks which will remove the involuntary modelling of another’s behaviour, potentially improving speed and likely accuracy.
- Isolation will allows you to reboot your brain and unwind. Being by yourself with no distractions gives you the chance to clear your mind, focus, and think more clearly. It’s an opportunity to revitalize your mind and body at the same time.
- Isolation helps to improve concentration and increase productivity. When you remove as many distractions and interruptions as you can from your day, you are better able to concentrate, which will help you get more work done in a shorter amount of time.
- Isolation gives you an opportunity to discover yourself and find your own voice.
- Isolation provides time for you to think deeply. Day to day responsibilities and commitments can make your to-do list seem as if it has no end. This constant motion prevents you from engaging in deep thought, which inhibits creativity and lessens productivity.
- Isolation helps you work through problems more effectively. It’s hard to think of effective solutions to problems when you’re distracted by incoming information, regardless of whether that information is electronic or human.
- Isolation can enhance the quality of your relationships with others. By spending time with yourself and gaining a better understanding of who you are and what you desire in life, you’re more likely to make better choices about who you want to be around. You also may come to appreciate your relationships more after you’ve spent some time alone.
- Image Source: Abhijit Shylanath/Flickr