Posts in Nature
You Need Alone Time

In this episode of Praying Well, I talk about the serious need that each of us has for alone time. Call it thinking time, time with God, or interior time- breaking from the everyday pace of life has never been more important.

The Why of Alone Time

Rather than filling all of your time with others or with the noise of technology, each of us needs alone time. Here are just a few of the “why’s” behind alone time:

  • Because our world is increasingly noisy due to social media and technology

  • Because solitude is elusive, scary and looked down upon (i.e. it’s not seen as “fun”)

  • Because Jesus himself took time alone to pray (see Mark 1:35)

The When of Alone Time

If you’re not sure when you can actually get some alone time, try the following:

  • Early in the morning

  • During your commute to work

  • When you are running errands

  • Late at night

  • When you are working out

  • When you are outside in nature

I know, some of you may be saying, “Mike, you don’t understand. My days start early and end late. There is literally no down time!” This is a lie we often tell ourselves. You have 15 minutes that you can carve out for God. I do too.

Is Alone Time Prayer Time?

This is an important question. Just spending time in solitude is not necessarily prayer time. For example, you could be out and about, running errands and listening to sports talk radio all the while. That’s time by yourself but probably wouldn’t constitute true alone time. 

Rather, quality alone time with God integrates prayer with time. For example, you need to weed your garden and you say a prayer at the start of it, thanking God for nature and the beauty of the outdoors. Then, while you are working, you are thinking of spiritual things and talking to God. This might be out loud on interiorly. The key is that you’ve “located” your time within God’s providence. It’s His time. You are participating in it. A quiet atmosphere helps. Things don’t have to be totally quiet but less noise is always a good thing.

Following Up

You’ve read this post and you’re already thinking of the busy details of your day. Still, you want to incorporate more alone time in your schedule. What to do? I suggest scheduling your alone time with God right now. Is there a 15 minute block that you can pencil in and just “be” with God? Even a small window of time can be helpful.

Go to the Place That Grounds You

What do you do when you absolutely must get something out of your head or off your chest?  Where do you go when you are frustrated and need to release nervous energy? 

For some, it's out for a run. 

For others, it's to the kitchen to make something delicious. 

For me, it's writing. 

When I'm writing, everything makes sense.  My mind is literally unfolding on the page, or often through a keyboard and into Squarespace for my blog.  It's an energy that grounds me.   

The mystic Meister Eckart said, "A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart. We know so many things, but we don't know ourselves! Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox's or bear's, cover the soul. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there."

Cary and I had dinner the other night with some folks who happened to be former professional dancers.  They described dancing with broad smiles on their faces as if talking about "their happy place".   

My neighbor's place of grounding is out on a boat, fishing.  Everything makes sense when he's casting and looking out over the water. 

The problem is, many of us, as life goes on, ignore the places that ground us.  We instead fill our schedules with the things we "have to do" and lose the joy of the things that ground us.   

Problem #2 is that we often think that if we cannot do that thing we love "full time", we shouldn't do it at all.  Imagine if the Pope used this as an excuse before being elected, "Well, I'll take the job but only I if I get to preach all day every day."  Just because we aren't doing the thing we love full time, doesn't mean it's not worth doing some of the time.   

Go to the place that grounds you.  It's probably either physical or artistic (and sometimes both).   The key is to go there and savor every moment of it.


New Podcast with David Allen

What do you ask someone who has been interviewed hundreds of times? 

That was the question I asked as Nancy (my cohost) and I prepared to interview David Allen, author of Getting Things Done.  I didn't want it to be just another interview with the same old questions being asked and the same result- a predictable interview.

The result: something different.

I think you'll enjoy this podcast interview we did with David.  We talked about parenting, school, information overload and of course, productivity.  David was down to earth, direct and inspiring.  We also got a sneak-peak at the new edition of Getting Things Done which debuts in March of 2015.

It was so much fun and I can't wait to share it with you so sit back and have a listen.  Jump below the podcast button for some of my past blog posts on GTD.

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One Way to Combat Too Much Screen Time

Here's the latest video (no film crew used here as you can tell!) in our series about screen time.  As a parent, I worry about how much time my kids spend in front of iPhones and the computer.  When I would come home years ago, I was the hero I would be greeted by four running kids who wanted to see how my day went.

Today it's different. 

The kids are happy as ever and perfectly "normal" but they're more interested in the latest YouTube video or video game.  

Here's one easy way to combat too much screen time... see what you think and let me know what's working for you and your digital life.