How We Prioritize Alone Time In a Small Space

A few things that have worked for us in our tiny home
The benefits of alone time + how to prioritize personal time while living with a small space. Self-care tips for me time. #selfcare #smallspaces #wellness #livingsmall #smallhouse

I consider myself to be incredibly lucky right now because Sean is still considered an essential worker and therefore going to work every day. That means I generally have the house all to myself… all 640 square feet of it! One question I’m asked a lot though is how each of us gets alone time in a small space. I’m guessing this gets asked a lot for a few reasons: our bedroom door is a barn door, so it doesn’t close all the way like a traditional door. Or maybe because I don’t have an office where I can hideaway. Even though we live in such a small home, we’ve been able to put into practice a few things that helps each of us prioritize alone time.

A Few Ways to Get Alone Time In a Small Space

What’s really interesting about this topic is that Sean and I are very different. I’m much more of an introvert than he is and way more chill. He relaxes by doing lots of projects. Whether that’s washing the boat or installing a new part on our van, he is always busy. Whereas I really need my downtime. I’m a big reader and I love napping… and vegging out with a show to binge. It took some work and compromise, but we’ve achieved more of a balance between the two lately. It’s great for us!

We also spend a lot of time together. Even though Sean goes to work each day, he comes home for lunch. And most weekends we’re working on projects together or off on a mountain adventure together. But here’s the thing: alone time is hugely important for your psyche. It doesn’t matter how you use the time, just that you give it to yourself. You could journal, read a book, exercise, nap… whatever it is, you deserve that ‘me time’ and I really encourage you to prioritize it!

But first, why is alone time important??

I almost didn’t write this section of the post because I figured we all sort of knew why ‘me time’ is vital. But as I thought more and more, I felt like it was really easy to just explain away the importance of it and prioritize someone else’s needs and wants over your own. Or at least that’s what I do. Part of why I started sharing so many self-care tips here on the blog is because this is a habit I’m working incredibly hard to break (or at least manage). So because of that I wanted to break down a few reasons why alone time is crucial to your mental and physical health:

  • Feeling recharged — A big reason why I work so hard in being consistent with my alone time is because it literally recharges my batteries. Any time I’m exhausted or depleted, I know that I need time to indulge by myself. And after, I feel so much more productive!
  • Creativity — I often find that I’m way more creative and think of great ideas when I’m enjoying some me time… even when I’m not actively thinking about work.
  • Deeper thinking + better communication — I truly believe that spending time by yourself forces you to look inward and think through what’s going on in your mind. And when you’re clearer with your feelings, you’re more likely to be a better partner and able to speak your truth.
  • Anxiety relief — If you use the time to meditate, especially, the quiet time can be so great for helping you feel calmer, less depressed, and even more productive.

Here are a few things we do to get ‘me time,’ even in our small space:

Noise canceling headphones

Some of you may have seen Sean doing yardwork in his giant Bose headphones on my Instagram stories. That’s because we each have a pair and use them often. If either one of us needs to check out, the headphones go on. We also take them on van trips because it can be really hard to get that sort of mental space while traveling.

Also, I’ve heard that some people will have rules in place if the headphones are on… like no interruptions or time limits. We don’t really do that and interrupt each other as much as necessary, but try to keep it to a minimum.

Separate devices

Speaking of headphones… we also use the headphones to watch different things or play different games. I’m sort of embarrassed to admit it, but I’m gonna fess up: yes, we will be in the same room, each engaged with a different device/screen, and ignoring the other. It’s weird, but it works for us. It took a while to get used to and sometimes I am still weird about it. So if I don’t feel like it’s ok for whatever reason, I usually take mine into the bedroom. It helps to make the barn door feel more private.

This one has saved loads of arguments though! Sean and I enjoy vastly different types of movies and shows. He likes things that blow up, have intense hero stories, or anything Star Wars-related. Meanwhile, I love true crime docs, period dramas, and garbage reality tv. Sometimes we find a middle ground, but using separate devices has really helped.

Escape outdoors

I know right now it’s really hard to get away from home and feel safely doing so. Our backyard has provided a much needed reprieve from being indoors 24/7 and, again, I feel so darn lucky! If one of us needs me time, that person goes outside. That can mean lounging on the patio, gardening, or communing with the chickens. Sometimes the outdoor time means taking the dogs for a walk or having a solo walk.

I think this type of escape works for us because it involves fresh air and getting out of the house — especially for me since I work from the house all of the time now.

Talk about it

Honestly, the biggest way to carve out personal space for yourself is to communicate to your partner that you need it. Work together to figure out when and how to make it happen. For example, Sean likes a specific radio show that I don’t, so he lets me sleep in on Saturday mornings so that he can listen and I can miss it. It sounds so simple, but it’s resolved a lot of arguments.

Also part of this is treating your partner the way you’d want to be treated. If they need alone time, give it to them. I am an incredibly sensitive person, so I wrestle with those creeping feelings of not being enough if Sean wants to be alone. But it’s not about that. It’s about each person taking the time they need to recharge, get grounded, and come back to the relationship as a more balanced person.

Create a schedule

And lastly, you could always make a schedule. This isn’t really something that has worked for us, but it could for you. Back when I was taking pottery classes, I typically took Friday afternoon into evening to work on pieces and zen-out at the studio. Sean knew I most likely didn’t have my phone on me and that I’d be home in time for dinner. Even a loose understanding like that can help you carve out the time you need for yourself.

I know it’s been challenging for so many of you to share small spaces with your loved ones AND balance getting me time for yourself. I really hope these tips and my personal anecdotes help. Relationships can be so tricky, especially in a small space. What other things have worked for you and your partner so that you both get alone time?

Photography by Jojotastic.

Behind The Blog

Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest-based social media strategist, content creator, and former textile designer. Joanna is the founder and editor-in-chief of Jojotastic, a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress cabin, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style. Her work has been featured in Domino, CNBC, and Eating Well.

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