How I Entered the Productivity Zone Faster and Focus Better

Photo by Andreas Klassen on Unsplash

Last night, I created a schedule about how I will spend today. My alarm clock had been mounted, my clothing had been spread out, and my meals had been packed. My goals were set down on my schedule.

Of course, it’s unlikely if anything goes according to schedule.

I always got up on time and went about my morning routine, but I couldn’t concentrate when it was time to go to work. I’m not sure exactly, so I’m going to chalk it up to one of those days.

Previously, I must have simply shrugged my hands. I would remind myself that if I didn’t function right away, it wouldn’t be the end of the world; I’d get around to it. As a result, I will be losing my precious time.

That isn’t all negative every now and then. If it occurs too much, you risk getting late on your assignments, missing deadlines, and jeopardizing your credibility and business. Before it occurs, you could work out how to move into the productivity zone quicker.

Here are seven approaches I’ve been able to get into the zone when I need to, based on my own experience.

1. Create A Pre-work Schedule.

You don’t have to be a die-hard sports enthusiast to be conscious of athletes’ pre-game routines. Almost everybody has witnessed LeBron James’ powder toss. You may have even read about the odd and superstitious pre-game habits of players like Rafa Nadel, who takes a freezing cold shower before a match and puts his water bottles with caution.

These can seem irrational and trivial. They are, however, helpful to athletes, according to studies.

Lysann Damisch, a clinical scientist at the University of Cologne, examined the effectiveness of superstitious practices in four studies. The findings were reported in the article “Hold your Fingers Crossed!” According to the report, “How Superstition Enhances Performance,” these pre-game practices are helpful.

What is the explanation for this? Participating in a pre-game ritual increases self-assurance in one’s skills. They will also help to ease pre-game nerves. It also helps them to clear their minds and remain in the present while relying exclusively on the routine.

Still, what about you, the novice sportsperson? Anything related may be helpful to you as well. A pre-work ritual will help you get into a work schedule, retain your focus, and change your outlook in this situation.

The best part? It is not important to provide a complicated or elaborate pre-work routine. It may be as easy as flipping on your screen, sticking your phone in a desk drawer, or saying a daily affirmation.

The key argument is that you can adhere to a daily schedule before getting to work. It will assist you in moving into work mode and getting you in the best state of mind for the day.

2. Bring Together a Playlist.

In a Calendar post, Deanna Ritchie notes, “I’ve found over the last couple of years that I listen to music more while I’m living.” Although this isn’t accurate for everybody, study over the years has shown that:

• Music in the background helps you to concentrate on your job.

• It increases memory and enhances mood.

• Music will assist you in remaining focused.

• It also enhances emotional and physical skills.

• By doing routine activities, it enhances job performance.

• Art enhances one’s attitude.

When beginning a new project, Michael Lewis, author of bestsellers such as Moneyball and Liar’s Poker, makes a new playlist. This is what he said to Tim Ferriss:

“But whenever I’m writing, I have headphones on and I have a soundtrack I write to and the soundtrack changes; it changes book to book and it’s got to the point where both my wife and my kids will recommend songs for the soundtrack for whatever the next project is. And I’ll build a soundtrack out of — intentionally, and the music is, you know, it’s all over the map, it tends to be very up, but it tends to be music that I just stop hearing.”

He is right. You must be deliberate when curating the playlist. You will do this by recognizing the task’s complexity, harmonic form, and lyrics.

3. Get Rid of Emotional Clutter.

As part of my pre-work routine, I take a notepad and scribble down whatever is on my mind. What is the explanation for this? And it cleans my mind of all such stray feelings.

That’s very important. After all, it’s hard to concentrate on your job while your mind is elsewhere. I’m referring to stuff like remembering to contact a client, place your laundry in the dryer, or launch a new business plan.

Once I’ve written all down, I sort my feelings. Some were just wild thoughts that could be thrown around. I’ll apply it to my to-do list if it’s anything significant, like making the phone call. And I’ll plan less critical activities if I have a “free” period of time.

It is not necessary to use a pen and paper. A whiteboard, to-do-list software, or voice recorder may be used. You can filter this out in whatever direction you like. The theory is that if you want to get into the zone, you can start from scratch.

4. Set a Strict Deadline for Yourself.

Deadlines will send shivers down the spine for certain people. You can not, though, be worried with reaching deadlines. You should receive them with open arms.

Deadlines help you remain on track, prioritize your timetable, and accomplish your objectives. They have also been shown to reduce the risk of procrastination in research.

What if there isn’t a fixed deadline? Create your own if you want to. Only note to bear the following in mind:

• Don’t suggest anything like “I’ll finish the first draft of my book next month” or “I’ll finish the first draft of my book next month.” Reasonable deadlines should be defined, such as “full first draft by March 2 at 5 p.m.”

• Timelines must therefore be fair. The March 2 deadline isn’t going to float if it’s February 28 and you haven’t even started writing on your script.

• Make sure the deadlines are relevant. To put it another way, you’ll require either external or internal inspiration to keep moving. As a consequence, if you skipped the March 2 deadline, you won’t be eligible to take your break.

Establish proximal goal deadlines for broader, distal targets. These smaller, more manageable objectives may be achieved in a limited amount of time. They might not seem to be of any benefit, but they are more successful and add up with time.

5. Build a fortress to defend yourself from interruptions.

Christine Carter, Ph.D., a Senior Fellow at the Greater Good Science Center, suggests, “Anything that could distract or lure us away from single-tasking needs to be taken care of before we sink into ‘The Bubble.”

To counteract this, Dr. Carter takes these measures to locate flow:

• Leaves her office tidy and ordered.

• Only opens the papers or applications that she wants for her task. All other applications and browsers have been taken down.

• Flips her “smartphone to ‘do not interrupt’ mode and covers it from view.”

• “I go to the toilet and return to my desk with a bottle of water, a sandwich, and a cup of coffee,” she writes.

• When she isn’t alone, Dr. Carter also shuts her office door and puts on noise-canceling headphones.

Although disruptions are unavoidable, you can at least keep the bulk of them from disturbing your flow. Take a few seconds to reflect of what you’ll like. Also, keep track of what distracts you and when it occurs so you can schedule ahead — for example, if your kids get home at 2 p.m., you can finish your job by then.

6. Taking advantage of social facilitation.

Remember while you were in college? You had a test coming up, so you wanted to head out. Fortunately, you had a mentor who inspired you to learn.

What were the days when you didn’t feel like going to the gym? Your workout partner motivates you to join, and you inspire them when they aren’t in the mood.

It may be immensely helpful to help someone else nudge us along and keep us responsible. This pattern has been researched by cognitive scientists for over a century. For example, social facilitation was first noticed in 1898 by Norman Triplett, who realized that when cyclists rode together, they attained quicker times than when they raced alone.

Social facilitation can be successful even in digital workplaces. However, you should be mindful that there are risks, such as social loafing or annoying each other. Overall, if you collaborate for someone who is responsible, helpful, and acknowledges when it’s time to work and when it’s time to play, you’ll be able to move into a flow state of mind.

7. Stick to the Goldilocks Maxim.

Are you acquainted with the children’s tale “The Three Bears”? It’s here that Goldilocks attempts three separate porridges before she chooses the one that’s just perfect. She does the same thing while she’s hunting for a spot to nap.

Astronomy, genetics, sociology, architecture, and developmental psychology have also used this concept. It may also be used to help you back through the groove of efficiency.

Why can you do it? You want to concentrate on work that is neither too complex nor too easy. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a professor of psychology and management at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif., and author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimum Experience, states, “If there is a strong match between the difficulty and the abilities, then you start experiencing flow.” This is because tasks that are too complex can be daunting, while tasks that are too easy can bore you.

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Alex Pantin

Alex Pantin

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