How do you get in the zone?

- January 24, 2010 2 MIN READ

Elite sports people often have a routine they go through before a game to help them get ‘in the zone’ to perform at their best. This powerful concept can apply to business professionals too.

Also referred to as being ‘in the flow’, ‘in the groove’, or simply ‘completely absorbed’, the concept has been studied by psychologists for many years.

A state of flow is commonly described by musicians, actors, gamers, spiritual practitioners, programmers, presenters, writers, stock traders and all kinds of business professionals. Young children seem naturally gifted at ‘getting lost’ in a painting, dance or imaginary game.

While to get in the zone can be a complex and hit-and-miss affair, one big part of it is in the preparation. A lot of my job involves writing. And while it’s not something I consciously created, I realised I have a routine that I follow whenever I have a big writing task to focus on.

Here’s my working ritual to get in the zone:

1. Take my mobile and office phones to the other side of the house

2. Clear all the clutter off my desk and put it on the floor out of sight

3. Pour a large glass of water and make a fresh cup of tea

4. Put on a trusty cap

5. Put on a big set of headphones

6. Play the same ancient music mix that includes New Order and Pet Shop Boys (don’t ask!)

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Even though none of these things are at all essential to the task at hand, for some reason once I’ve gone through that ritual I feel physically and mentally ready to work productively.

For other business owners it might be cues like starting a fresh notepad, wearing a favourite outfit, cleaning their tools, using a certain brand of equipment or mental visualisation. It’s different for everyone.

Do you have a routine you use to get in the zone, or is all this flow talk just management mumbo jumbo? Let us know your thoughts.