If you have family members across the world like I do, chances are that you will be celebrating Eid away from them due to the pandemic and travel restrictions. This will be another exceptional Eid as we abide by government rules and regulations to keep our communities safe.
When I started my entrepreneurial journey years ago, productivity to me meant a packed schedule. I attended social gatherings and networking events and my free time was spent travelling or catching up with friends over weekends. Bottom line – I rarely had time to myself.
But as my business and work responsibilities grew, I found myself getting increasingly fatigued. For a person, who is generally calm and does not like to argue with anyone, I was easily agitated and got stuck in a rut with not many creative ideas. That of course was major problem, given that I worked on creative projects all the time.
The burnout eventually got the best of me and I was bed-ridden. That is when I realised that not dedicating time to myself was the reason to blame.
I spent weeks after that episode altering my lifestyle. I researched and found out that spending some time alone was actually beneficial to both my wellbeing and my business, as scheduling time for solitude helps productivity and creativity.
Solitude and productivity
A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology by Jungsoo Kim and Richard de Dear from the University of Sydney found that people perform better when they have privacy and that interacting with others while working could negatively impact productivity.
Research by Sherrie Carter, a psychologist and author who specialises in extreme traumatic stress in women and children, has highlighted how solitude and removing distractions from a typical workday can help workers concentrate more and improve productivity.
With Eid coming up this week and many of us spending time alone, we should take this opportunity to get rid of the Zoom fatigue and shed our work routines for a few days. Managements should also help staff fully recharge, by telling them to avoid screen time and work-related activities, and come back rejuvenated to achieve their targets.
Solitude inspires creativity
There is a reason why many artists and writers seek solitude when working on big projects. Though I do not retreat to a cabin in the woods to seek solitude, I dedicate my early mornings when everybody else sleeps to seek inspiration. It helps me to solve work-related issues and find new ways and ideas to develop my business.
In his book titled 40, Saudi Arabian media personality Ahmad Alshugairy wrote about his experience of living on a remote island in complete isolation without interacting with people. He explains how no technology for 40 days helped him to write a book and inspired multiple ideas. Though not everyone can spend 40 days in isolation like Mr Alshugairy did, we can all dedicate at least some alone time during the Eid holiday, think hard and get some inspiration.
Solitude helps you strategically plan
Planning to achieve your personal goals is just as important as planning growth of your business with your colleagues. Spending some time alone can help you re-evaluate your personal goals and identify where you need to make necessary changes. Following Mr Alshugairy’s advice, I dedicated my first 24-hours of complete solitude two years ago to evaluate my personal goals and dreams, and update my life’s roadmap. It has become an annual ritual since.
Spending special occasions like Eid away from family and loved ones is challenging, but given the circumstances, we should look at this as an opportunity to switch off completely and spend time with ourselves. Your body and your business will thank you for that.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi.