Boss Lady

Want to beat guilt and stay inspired? Find time for yourself.


“Alone time is when I distance myself from the voices of the world so I can hear my own.”

-Oprah Winfrey

When was the last time you got more than a few hours to yourself? Not just going on that well-deserved PTO, not just separated from your family for a two-day work trip away. Really, truly, just you. Even better question, when was the last time you got away and didn’t feel bad about it?

If you can’t remember, the good news is you’re not alone. Nearly 90% of mothers report experiencing guilt and 67% report prioritizing care for others over their own self-care according to research by NUX and Kelton Global respectively. Considering the many hats we wear, it’s no wonder we get caught up in feelings of guilt and end up leaving ourselves in last place.

So what’s a woman to do with the precious time she has left over for herself? Turns out, one of the most productive things we can do is absolutely nothing at all.

Go inward & get quiet

Business icons Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates actually have more in common than you might think. Having built incredible empires, both credit their alone time as vital for reaching states of deep contemplation, staying inspired and cultivating growth in their careers and personal lives. If you’re looking to create a lasting legacy, making time for yourself, and only yourself, should be as important as all the other items on your to-do list.

Winfrey is a big proponent of spending at least half an hour to herself first thing in the morning. She’s a fan of the “365 Gathered Truths” box and pulls five cards while she prepares her espresso with a touch of milk and hazelnut. Talk about our kind of contemplation! The female powerhouse follows this with reading her daily “Bowl of Saki” teachings, sent straight to her inbox, and ends her “spiritual exercises” with a 20-minute meditation session. Sounds like Winfrey has mastered the practice of starting the day on the right foot.

If setting aside thirty minutes every day sounds impossible, consider following Gates’ ‘Think Week’ approach with a seasonal retreat in seclusion. Twice a year, the tech magnate escapes to a two-story cabin in the Pacific Northwest where he disconnects from all technology (yes, Wi-Fi included) and cuts communication from his entire staff, friends and even his family. With the exception of a caretaker that provides him two simple meals a day, he creates a cocoon of complete solitude for an entire week. How’s that for a perfect environment to brainstorm and dream big?

Benefit professionally and personally

Whether you want to block off thirty minutes per day or an entire week twice a year, there is an endless amount of research to demonstrate just how beneficial it is to build some alone time into your schedule. These benefits aren’t just great for our professional development, but they’re just as important for our personal well-being and self-care practice.

Phone Free Focus

When you’re free from co-workers and family members, the ability to focus and concentrate increases exponentially as you decrease the amount of distractions in your surrounding environment. No surprise there! However, you can’t achieve that without disconnecting from your phone. Whether your guilty of scanning the work inbox or checking texts to see if the family is alright, we have a tendency to become “hyper-aware” of our phones the moment we decide to step away. To really reap the benefits and feel focused, make the arrangements you need with colleagues, family and friends prior to spending that sacred time alone.

Encourage Inspiration

We all know the Zen feeling that comes with walking into a clean and tidy home. Our environment has a direct impact on our mood, but it also can prompt creativity and the ability to retain information. Aside from switching up how you spend your solitude, also consider a change of scenery from time to time. Research has shown that studying in new and multiple locations improves performance and productivity. While you don’t need to book an Airbnb across the coast like Gates, you can always try taking a different route on a walk around the neighborhood or working from a new coffee shop. Routine is great and all, but it can diminish creativity and stifle inspiration!

Natural Nourishment

The recommendation to get some “fresh air” is not one to be undermined. Whether you’re taking a lap around the office building or taking a notebook to the park to jot down goals, choosing to spend some time alone while in nature relieves stress and improves our problem-solving abilities. On a physical level, getting some sunlight optimizes energy levels and boosts our immune system.

Activities to try

At the end of the day, there is no perfect formula to overcome feeling overwhelmed. You know yourself best, including what tends to work or not work for you. No matter how you choose to spend your time in solitude, trying something new can help you get to know yourself even better. You can mix-and-match the following activities for a Winfrey-inspired morning routine, or combine a variety to recreate your very own “Think Weekend.”


There’s a reason this practice has stuck around for thousands of years – spending some time in silence and stillness each day proves to bring an enormous amount of physical and mental benefits. Don’t trip yourself up if the word “meditation” itself seems intimidating. Just try to soften your gaze, sit upright and count your breaths. A count of 4-6 for your inhales, a count of 6-10 for your exhales.


You don’t need to be a writer to have a journaling practice. One method called “stream of consciousness” involves just that – arriving to a blank page and letting your pen channel a stream of thoughts down on paper. The goal is to really not think about the next word you’re going to write down; just let it flow and reread once you’ve reached your endpoint!


We’ve heard plenty of reasons as to why it’s wise to exercise regularly. But feel free to try “intuitive movement” to break-up your usual pattern. This can mean turning your favorite song on and truly dance however you feel like moving. Or you can try to mimic your pet in the morning and go for some primal inspired stretches. There is no right or wrong way to move, simply just try to get into your body and listen to what it wants to do.

Throw them all together and have yourself a ‘Think Week’:

About Nicole Villegas'

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