Home Alone: How I Improved My Productivity & Focus

Recently I packed up my two kids and my husband and sent them to visit grandma in Northern California. I've had a home office for years, and while that has supported both my professional goals and family flexibility, it has also narrowed my options for time alone.

Focus = Productivity

As I returned home from dropping everyone off at the airport, I walked into my house and realized, 'I'm home alone.' Suddenly everything felt different. For the next two days it would be just me and our two dogs. I had time to think and to focus. I was already feeling more productive. This led me to think about the value of things like 'mindfulness' and 'quiet time' as defined by the 'Third Path Institute-?Creating Time for Life?' things we perhaps take for granted in our daily multi-tasking lives. There is indeed value to being focused squarely on one thing at a time. Organizations looking for ways to effectively boost productivity and enhance employee well-being may well want to look at these same things. Innovation, creativity, and overall well-being of employees demand such focus. In fact, in his book "The Way We're Working Isn't Working,"  Tony Schwartz rails against the current culture, saying 'The relentless urgency that characterizes most corporate cultures undermines thoughtful deliberation, creativity, engagement and sustainable high performance.'

What Families are Saying About Work & Life

This ability to single-mindedly focus is especially tough for working parents. Findings from the Modern Family Index, a newly released survey of over 1,000 working adults, reports that working parents are almost never on vacation, most using paid time off for family responsibilities instead of taking a trip or relaxing. Over time, that kind of double dipping impacts their ability to do either 'parenting or work' especially well. I'm not suggesting employers offer programs to free up employees by sending everyone's family to grandma's. But support to help balance the responsibilities would help.

Restored Reserves and Improved Productivity

As for me' Home alone, what a feeling. As I sit on a plane on the six-hour flight to California to catch up with my family, I take time to reflect on the past two days. What energy I feel. The little break restored my reserves. I feel more useful to my employer; I had time to think and read and develop a few new ideas. I'm up on current information with a new sense of possibilities. In just two days I feel a healthy state of mind and body to offer when I get to California, and hopefully to apply to my work when we get back home. Home alone. Time to think, it's a beautiful thing.

Written by: Andrea Wicks Bowles

About the Author

Andrea Wicks Bowles at Bright Horizons

As Senior Consultant, Director Global Initiatives, Horizons Workforce Consulting, Andrea works with Bright Horizons clients to enhance the effectiveness of their employees and strengthen their position as an employer of choice. Her knowledge of global child care policies, organizational effectiveness, and work/life industry trends combined with analytical skills is used to help clients uncover their unique issues and challenges. Andrea, a frequent speaker at work/life conferences, is a key contributor to Bright Horizons' research investigations.