Recently I’ve been asked more and more about “the zone.” Most often it’s described as being in an intense state where performance has improved exponentially for a short period of time, but what causes this state? And why can’t we just enter it any time we like and have it last beyond the typical short bursts that most people experience it in? Well, we can and I’m going to tell you how in 5 easy steps.
The zone is often said to be a state of intense focus, so focus is more of a synonym than an individual attribute, but in any case, it implies some of the other factors.
You’ll struggle to find someone falling to sleep while in the zone. In fact, the portrayed image of being in the zone is quite the opposite – someone alert and awake, passionately engaged in what they’re doing.
It’s really important to have energy. If you’re barely maintaining consciousness due to a late night of cocktails, bad chat-up lines, and a story you could never tell your mother, going into the zone is going to be difficult.
3. No Distractions
Another approach for going into the zone is to avoid all distractions. Some people are more sensitive to distraction than others, but we should always aim to minimise the kinds of distraction that pulls our mind out of what we’re currently doing. Avoiding the context switching cost is a big win.
Some people find that listening to music helps them go into the zone. I listen to music when I’m writing and I do think it can be distracting, but often much less distracting than the average office conversation. Music is a personal thing and I suspect it doesn’t affect our ability to go into the zone that much either way, although if it makes us comfortable, perhaps being comfortable does.
5. But What Matters More… Is Enjoyment!
To go into the zone you really need to actually enjoy what you’re doing. People do way better at things they enjoy, and enjoyment is much easier and far more effective than discipline. We need to be excited about our goals and feel like all we want to do is work on them right this minute.
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