What I learnt from a weekend home alone

A little about me, General ramblings, Thoughts

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(Pug purely because he’s adorable) This weekend just past I decided to decline all social invitations and all outside commitments and have a full weekend (Friday 6:30pm – Monday 7:30am) completely by myself. I was tempted by the immense line up at Yestival (and as a long term sufferer of FOMO, this week has been especially tough hearing about what sounded like a magical weekend), asked to see family, have friends who I’ve neglected to spend time with in weeks, but I said no. I’m not sure why exactly but a part of me was really craving some alone time.

When I do the tests they tell me I’m an extrovert, if you meet me, you’d probably guess the same, but if what determines if you are or not, is where you get your energy from, this past weekend makes me question where on the scale I fall.

I used to hate being alone. If I had to be home alone, I’d eat away the time curled up in bed numbed by various box sets which looking back doesn’t really count as time well spent.  I’m certain now, deep down I was afraid of being alone. It’s only since my first Vipassana 10 day silent meditation retreat at the beginning of this year that I realised that my own company wasn’t so bad after all, I had nothing to fear and everything to gain.

I’m going to begin by listing everything that I did this weekend.

  • Woke up and meditated for 20 mins both Saturday and Sunday
  • Did a meal plan for the coming week, created a shopping list and did my big shop
  • Got a haircut
  • Went to the gym both days for approx. 45 mins
  • Cooked 3 delicious meals from scratch; my dad’s famous spiced scrambled eggs (so simple but incredible, will happily share the recipe), an asian chicken and noodle dish and a tray of coconut oil brownies, that went down a treat at work on Monday
  • Wrote a 1500 word blog post about my recent Escape to Umbria
  • Wrote up action plans from said trip
  • Tidied my flat
  • Watched an incredible documentary on Netflix; Alive Inside, a real tear jerker I warn you now, about the power of music to transform the lives of people suffering from dementia
  • Listened to 2 Tim Ferriss podcasts (Jimmy Chin & Lisa Randall)
  • Finished reading my Rebel Book Club read of the month Wild Courage by Elle Harrison
  • Got through a quarter of the Influence by Robert Caildini audiobook (3 hours)
  • Listened through my entire weekly Spotify Discover playlist and saved my favs
  • Gave myself a facial
  • Went shopping and got myself a sizeable winter wardrobe haul and did a personal fashion show to myself when I got home to remind my self of what I bought (please tell me I’m not the only one who does this?!)
  • Watched 5 episodes of Friends (towards the end of S4.. Ross & Emily are about to get married)
  • Got a full 10 hours sleep Friday and Saturday night
  • Did my full 20,000 steps over the weekend according to my phone

I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging here, though just thinking back I’m amazed at how much I feel got done. I write the list to illustrate what I learnt:

There is so, so much time

There are 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week.

I had 61 hours alone over the weekend, of which I spent 28 sleeping.

That still left me with 33 hours of time awake to fill with whatever I wanted. 33 hours is a seriously long time, in which you can do a hell of a lot. Time is a precious, non-renewable resource that I consider to be my most valuable possession, but I don’t think I have a shortage of it. I have the same number of hours in my weekend as everyone I love or admire out in the world. So ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I’m too busy’ are just confessions of what my priorities are at any given time. This weekend I prioritised rest, fitness, life planning and admin, myself. If I look at my life as a whole right now, I can’t say that I always prioritise the things that are important to me, this weekend was an exception rather than the rule, which worries and saddens me. This I need to change. Have you thought recently about how you spend you time? And what this implies about your priorities? Intentions, maybes, somedays are imaginary. All that is real is what we do.

How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives‘ – Annie Dillard

1 hour of planning saves 10 hours of doing

I have to confess… I have no idea where the above statement came from or if its accurate, but I read it on the interwebs last week and its stuck with me. So much so that first thing Saturday morning, I wrote out my master plan for the weekend to test it.

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I’d say I stuck to about 85% of it and it astonished me. It surprised me how many times I forgot what I was planning to do and had to check back to the plan, I’m clearly a slow learner! There is definite value in writing down your plans, goals, dreams, whether that be micro daily ones or the big lifetime ones. Coincidentally, Robert Cialdini confirmed this with the research in Influence, the audiobook I’m listening to. The research says that both writing down your commitments and then going one step further and making them public make you far more likely to follow through.

The above 2 points highlight to me that clearly theres a lot to say for effective time management and goal setting. I attended a mini course on time management at Escape the City by the lovely Alejandro Kaufmann a few months ago and picked up the art of time blocking which I have to say has changed my life. Time blocking encourages you think about the important stuff you want to achieve in the coming days and block time out in advance to do it. I now try to do this each week for work, blocking huge chunks of time where I can focus on specific tasks. It reminded me of a brilliant post by Paul Graham, co-founder of Y-Combinator who writes brilliantly about the difference between the Makers Schedule and the Managers Schedule. All to often in a corporate where I find myself currently is heavily skewed towards a ‘Managers Schedule’.

Time alone is time well spent

I mentioned in my last post that you are the average of the people you surround yourself with. I strongly believe that one of those people should be yourself. I want to be mostly me, honestly. I don’t know who that is yet, and I’m sure it will evolve over time, but spending time alone is one catalyst to figuring it out. Just 2 and a half days helped me reconnect with a few things about myself.

  1. I’m deeply in love with music. On some some level I was probably aware of this already, and sometimes I think but surely everyone is right? Who doesn’t love music? But I feel like I take it to another level in my head… The documentary I watched, Alive Inside, all about the power of music resonated so deeply. Actually if you look at my Netflix wishlist, my audible wish list, my book wishlist (outside of the genre of self-development!), its full of music history, musical autobiographies. I’d say one of my favourite books ever is John Peel’s autobiography, Margrave of the Marshes. I love new music… Spotify Discover brings me endless joy and excitement at the moment. I hadn’t noticed it really before but on the tube, bus, walking down the street, I’m the one trying to keep head and feet from tapping uncontrollably to the beats pouring into my ears. Whilst cooking I had my speakers turned up high as I danced around my kitchen as I cooked. If you’ve ever seen me on a night out on the dance floor… it speaks for itself! I’m in my own little world. I’ve always been this way, thinking back, but only now I’m paying attention and connecting those dots.

2. My second love is space and time and all the wonders of the universe. Also heavily featured in the books and documentary wish lists. I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. I read Simon Singh’s Big Bang when I was 12. Cosmos: A space time odyssey is probably one of my fav TV shows ever.

3. I love to cook. For myself, for others, savoury, sweet. It excites me.

4. I love to write! The post I wrote on Saturday was the first time I felt like I’d spoken in my own voice for a really long time and here I am again.

5. I currently don’t invest my time in the above 4 things as much as I’d like.

We spend so much time doing what we should do for some goal outside of ourselves, I think we bury our natural passions and the things that excite us just because they excite us. I’m never going to be an astronaut (fingers crossed for a trip to space though!), but that doesn’t mean that following that excitement is a waste of time. I can’t play an instrument (yet), music probably won’t ever make me money, but it makes me fundamentally happier and more my whole self. Elle Luna a wildly incredible artist and author wrote a beautiful book which comes to mind whenever I think about this, The Crossroads of Should and Must. If you haven’t read her blog post, it’s an absolute must.

Time and how I’m spending it, is clearly on my mind a lot right now, reading back this post!

I’m also enjoying trying to breakdown my experiences in to what I’m learning as it’s helping me focus and have a purpose to what I’m writing. Any feedback is greatly appreciated. 🙂 Coming up in the next couple of weeks or so… I’ll be sharing what I’m learning at work in my role in corporate learning and development, at Rebel Book Club, at the first ever Escape Mondays, perhaps my experiences as a property guardian and TEDx Brixton…

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