When was the last time you were so focused that time stood still?
Athletes call this mental state being in “The Zone”; psychologists call it “flow” or peak experience, and they have linked it to leading a life of happiness and purpose. Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher who authored theTao Te Ching, called it “doing without doing” or “trying without trying.”
I think of this mental state as our “sweet spot,” where we have both great strength and great ease; it’s the mental state when our best work emerges without strain or anxiety. Instead of making our most powerful effort, we get to experience our own effortless power.
Although we usually assume that a state of deep concentration is hard to achieve (and getting harder these days, as the interruptions from our smartphone/email/texts mount) the truth is that we can access this wonderful state much more easily than we often realize. Here’s how.
1. Clear mental clutter.
What is going on in your mind that will keep you from your sweet spot?
Take a quick look at your task list, and decide what you will do today and when you will do it. When our subconscious mind doesn’t know when we will complete a task, it will often interrupt our flow state with intrusive reminders about what else we need to do. Research shows that our unconscious isn’t actually nagging us to do the task at hand but rather to make a plan to get it done. So scheduling a task can make a huge difference in our ability to focus on something else.
Another precursor to getting into The Zone is knowing where you are in your workflow. “That constant awareness of what is next is what keeps you focused,” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, toldEntrepreneur magazine. “That’s where the engagement comes from.”
So note what you’ve just accomplished, what you hope to accomplish next, and what you’ll work on after that.
As I approach my tasks, I also find it helpful to take a quick peek at my calendar and email to clear mental clutter. Is there anything urgent? The idea isn’t to respond to emails; it’s a check that keeps me from worrying while I work that I should have checked my email, and keeps me from wondering if there is anything on my calendar that I should be preparing for.
2. Build yourself a fortress against interruption.
If you can’t concentrate, you can’t be in your sweet spot. Period.
That’s because if you keep getting interrupted, you can’t achieve the state of deep concentration that you need for flow. Even if you like the interruptions (as when you get funny texts from a friend). Even if the interruptions are good for your work (as when a colleague stops by to answer a question). If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this:
No focus, no flow.
Anything that might distract or tempt you away from your work needs to be taken care of before you drop into The Zone. Think of yourself like a toddler going on a road trip: What will make you pull over before you reach your destination? Will you need to plug your computer in? Get a kleenex? Adjust the thermostat? Something as small as an itchy tag on the back of your shirt can weaken your focus if you are tempted to go to the bathroom to cut it out.
Read full article at : Three Tricks to Help Find Your Sweet Spot