How to Get in the Zone (and be More Productive)

Think back to the last time you were watching a movie and the main character was working on an important project. Time speeds up and the camera rotates around her, while numbers and equations flash onscreen in illuminated colors. At the end of the scene, she sits back with a big, self-satisfied smile, having cracked what appeared to be an impossible task.

That period of intense focus and productivity is what it’s like to be “in the zone,” though probably without the dramatic music and visuals. Most of us have experienced this burst of intense focus at some point, and in addition to getting quality work done quickly, it gives us a feeling of great enjoyment.

So how can you get into the zone on a regular basis? The first step is to recognize the conditions necessary to bring it about. By understanding your body’s circadian rhythm, for example, you can schedule challenging projects for the time when you’re most alert. Fuel your body with snacks that are high in omega-3, which improve brain function, and you’re well on your way to creating ideal circumstances for getting in the zone.

The environment around you is also vital if you want to get in a flow. Music without lyrics has been proven to focus your mind and increase performance, while the color green also has a significant impact on how productive we are. Looking at scenes from nature, or even just the color itself, can boost your productivity significantly.

With a bit of practice and the right environment, it’s possible to get in the zone when you need to and have your own big, self-satisfied smile!

Full Productivity infographic

Sources

  1. Barnes, C.M. 2015. The Ideal Work Schedule, as Determined by Circadian Rhythms. hbr.org
  2. Martin, K.A., Hall, C. R. (1995). “Using Mental Imagery to Enhance Intrinsic Motivation.” Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 17
  3. Turkay, S. 2014. Setting Goals: Who, Why, How?. harvard.edu
  4. Lesiuk, T. 2005. The effect of music listening on work performance. sagepublications.com
  5. Gillett, R. 2015. The best music to listen to for optimal productivity, according to science. businessinsider.com
  6. Burkeman, O. 2013. This column will change your life: Nature and Nurture. guardian.co.uk
  7. Bregman, P. 2012. If you’re too busy to meditate, read this. hbr.org
  8. Foroughi, C. K. et al. 2014. Do interruptions affect quality of work? Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 56
  9. Cold Turkey. 2017. The most complete distraction blocker available for desktops. getcoldturkey.com
  10. Freedom. 2017. Stop being distracted by your laptop. freedom.to
  11. Gomez-Pinilla, F. 2008. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  12. Kaufman, S.B. 2011. Who Enters Flow? psychologytoday.com

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