What is the Zone?
The Zone. The state of being in the flow. A mysterious state that brings out the best of us. A state where you are ultra-productive, creative and just simply — powerful.
A superlative state of regular concentration and focus.
A state that you wish can last forever. Many athletes have experienced being in the zone before and some attributed their success to that state.
Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, during qualifying for the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix, explained: “I was already on pole, […] and I just kept going. Suddenly I was nearly two seconds faster than anybody else, including my teammate with the same car. And suddenly I realised that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension. It was like I was in a tunnel.”
I have also experienced being in the zone a couple of times. When I am in it, I feel super motivated, purposeful and believed that anything I do was possible. I was checking off my to-do list rapidly and when I look at the time, 5 hours passed yet I am still in focus.
Many of us also want to be in this state more frequently to bump up our daily focus and efficiency.
So, what are the conditions to enter it?
The first condition is your intrinsic motivation behind the tasks. It is about handling your tasks with a clear set of goals in mind. This is the reason why many electrifying sports performances happen when athletics have a strong purpose or motivation, like the death of someone special. For example, NBA player Isaiah Thomas’ incredible 53-point performance on his sister’s birthday after her tragic death or Brett Favre passing for 399 yards and 4 touchdowns a day after his father’s death exemplifies that death of someone close to your heart fuels motivation and purpose, enabling one to be in the zone and perform exceptionally.
One must have the potential to handle the task at hand in the first place. After all, being in the zone means unleashing 100% of your potential. However, if your maximum potential cannot handle the task at hand, you will be in a state of frustration instead.
Lastly, tasks at hand must be challenging and mentally demanding. If not you will fall into the state of boredom as the tasks are simply not engaging. Tasks need to be somewhat difficult so that they can elicit the state of flow.
Now you know the conditions to get there. But what can we do to increase our chances? Of course, it will be easy to get into the zone by having a clearer and stronger purpose. However, not all of us have such motivation and the ability to maintain that level of drive daily. Thus, there are other ways to increase the possibility.
It is all about your environment.
Our environment has a huge influence on how we feel and function, whether consciously or subconsciously.
According to Ulrich and Zimming, authors of the 2004 report, The Role of the Physical Environment in the 21st Century Hospital, there are more than 600 credible studies that show how aspects of healthcare design can influence medical outcomes. Thus, it is important to make sure that the environment you are in is supporting you to enter the zone and not doing the opposite.
Firstly, reduce your distractions like making sure that social media apps are muted and not within reach. The reason?
According to a University of California Irvine study, “it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.”
This signifies that you lose all your momentum and focus by just replying a text. Thus, this is going to reduce the chances of you entering the zone and even break you out from the state of flow. Hence, make your environment distraction-free.
Next, make sure that your environment is comfortable. The temperature of the room, and having an aesthetically pleasing workspace and a comfortable chair all play a role in contributing to the comfort of your environment. Even the type of beverage or snack also plays a part in creating the optimal environment. Thus, do what you need to ensure a comfortable working experience. If you are going to be in the zone for 4–5 hours, makes sure you are physically comfortable for that duration of time. You want to avoid a scenario where your physical discomfort breaks you out of the state of flow.
In my opinion, this is important to get into the zone as it stimulates the flow. Music helps me to focus better as its melody creates a pleasing environment by improving my mood.
And whenever you find yourself in the zone, take note of the environment at that point of time and make adjustments so that you can find the most optimal environment to get into the zone and elevate your daily focus level.
Being in the zone is awesome as you can accomplish more in a shorter period. Thus, whenever you find yourself in it, maximise it! Don’t stop after completing the agenda for that day, check if you can start on other taskings that you have for the week. It is rare to enter the zone so make good use of it when you are in it!
Previously published on medium
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