Falling out of the zone

If you are lucky enough to enjoy the work you do, it could be because you are frequently “in the zone.” The zone is a state of complete concentration, also called “flow,” where time seems to stand still, and performance is at its peak. Before I heard these terms, I often experienced deep concentration while coding and called it “being one with the computer.” Not only is the zone a great state to be in while solving problems, it feels energizing and amazing. Sceptics may think there is nothing to this, but specific brain waves can be measured in studies about flow. If you are interested in learning more about the zone, check out The Rise Of Superman by Steven Kotler (Quercus Publishing, 2015).

Moving into the zone is not something you can switch on and off; it takes time, without interruptions, to get there. That’s one reason I’ve never been a fan of the vast “sea of cubicles” in many offices. Between the harsh lighting and noise, it isn’t easy to concentrate. Back when I was a DBA, I would often go into the office on Saturdays or minor holidays when no one else would be around so I could get some work done without interruptions. (I don’t recommend this!) For a few months at that job, I shared a small office with one other person and could avoid all the distractions.

I’ve been able to work from home for almost 10 years. Working remotely with the occasional trip to an event or the office has helped me stay in the zone more often. I can do my job more efficiently and also spend time recording classes and writing books, thanks to the zone. Of course, it’s challenging to get in the zone when interrupted by meetings or childcare. For the last few months, I’ve been helping grandchildren with remote school, and my day has been disrupted much more than usual.

Lately, I’ve wondered why I haven’t felt as much joy with my work, even though I have the best job in the world. Maybe it’s because I haven’t travelled since last February, or maybe it’s because I’ve started to develop some new interests. I finally figured it out – because of  many interruptions, I have fallen out of the zone.

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