Have you ever been “in the zone”? You know, that highly productive state where you can accomplish almost anything? It’s feels pretty awesome when it hits.
Finding “the zone” is a subject that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. How can I attain that unwavering focus more often? What strategies can I try to boost my efficiency?
While searching for these answers, I’ve found that the old saying, “work smarter, not harder” is absolutely key. So today I’m sharing 5 smart habits to help you get in the zone and maximize productivity.
Are you ready? Let’s do this.
5 smart habits to get in the zone and maximize productivity
Find the right location
Here’s the deal. Not everyone works well in the same location. My brother-in-law does all of his work at Starbucks. I have a friend who loves going to the library each day. And I like heading to the office every morning, though when the occasion arrises, I enjoy working from home as well.
So whether you find the constant bustle of a coffee shop inspiring, or you need complete silence to concentrate, it is important to discover which environment works best for you.
When you find that perfect location, make it a habit to work there consistently. You will soon associate the space with accomplishing work, which will inspire increased focus. Little distractions won’t slow you down, and you’ll be one step closer to reaching the zone.
Know your peak productivity time
Are you a morning person? Do you work better in the afternoon or the evening? Is there a time when your energy plummets and productivity is out of the question? (For me, that time is between 3-4 p.m.)
The simple secret here is to work with your personal rhythm. When you take time to recognize your cycle of productivity, you’ll have a clear understanding of when you should tackle those big projects.
If you’re not productive until after 12:00, for example, then make it a habit to tackle low-energy tasks in the morning. (Returning phone calls, answering emails etc.) Then, when you’re at your peak, launch into your big projects and get in the zone.
Get enough sleep, and be smart about caffeine
I know, I know. I keep harping on the importance of sleep. Maybe it’s because I need to keep reminding myself as well (ha!) But let’s think about this for a minute…
Sleep impacts everything. And when your sleep tank is empty, productivity nose dives. Then what happens? You turn to caffeine.
And yes, caffeine, in small doses, is incredibly effective for most people. But not everyone’s reactions to caffeine are the same. Some people can drink cup after cup of coffee. But others feel jittery and anxious, which has the opposite of the desired effect; it pulls you out of the zone.
So it’s important to understand your own reactions to caffeine. Think about how it impacts your productivity, and whether you might benefit from cutting back a bit.
Oh! Keeping the topic of caffeine in mind, I have to share with you this crazy thing I discovered doing some research yesterday.
It turns out that one of the ways people have been using caffeine in recent years is by adding fats to their morning cup of joe. Seriously! I came across this idea over at bulletproof coffee. Apparently the fats from butter slow the absorption of caffeine into your body, which gives lasting energy rather than the typical “spike and crash.”
Isn’t that interesting? I’d love to know if anyone has tried this. If so, please let me know in the comments below. I am so intrigued!
Kick the butts
Whenever I run from my office to the library or out to grab a cup of coffee on campus, I always see a few grad students hanging outside the door smoking. Now smoking is a trend that has drastically decreased in recent years. And this is thanks to both increased awareness of the devastating health effects, and advances in helping people quit. (Products like E-Cigarettes and vapes have been especially helpful. Check out this link for more details).
Nevertheless, the habit persists. And what’s more, it plays a big role in preventing us from reaching “the zone.” Studies have shown that people aren’t as productive when they take cigarette breaks throughout the day. And this makes sense. Those breaks add up, and having to return and refocus time and time again is a major time suck.
So if you’re thinking about quitting, let me add one more reason to support your decision. By kicking the habit you’ll get in the zone and maximize productivity much easier.
My last tip is one that you can implement today. Right now, in fact. And this the the practice of deep breathing. I came across a Tedtalk called Breathe to Heal, which looks at why anxiety, stress, and sleep dysfunction are wide spread problems around the world. The speaker, Max Strom, explains that 10-20 minutes of breathing exercises each day can combat these “debilitating challenges.”
Yes, just breathing!
Now…I can say with 100% confidence, that breathing is something we all do everyday. (Dry humor alert). And by practicing the strategy of deep breathing, we are able to reduce the anxiety that so many of us live with on a daily basis.
As we know, tension and stress are often the culprits of a racing mind, which inhibits our ability to focus. By implementing these deep breathing exercises, however, we quiet our those thoughts. This, in turn, helps us get in the zone and maximize productivity much more quickly.
So if you’re searching for new strategies to increase your productivity and focus, give these 5 smart strategies a try. From finding an ideal workspace, to knowing your peak productivity time, to regularly practicing deep breathing, there is an easy option for everyone to try today!
Have you ever been “in the zone?” What are your strategies for reaching your peak performance? Have you ever tried deep breathing exercises? What about bulletproof coffee? I’d love to hear from you. Please let me know below!