Some call it “in the zone.” Others refer to “getting in the groove.” In a recent post for the HubSpot blog, contributor Lindsay Kolowich labels it the “flow.”
We workers have many names for an intense state of mind that enables us to, as Kolowich writes, get a “whole lot done in not a lot of time.” This mental mode of high concentration and greater productivity is considered the pinnacle of effectiveness and peak of efficiency by those of us ceaselessly seeking to refine the way we organize our time.
Why? Because today, as author and researcher Melissa Gregg stresses in a column for The Atlantic “…the burden of efficiency now falls, more often than in the past, on the individual.”
“The responsibility workers feel to self-manage has created a new kind of anxiety,” Gregg writes, which books like Smarter, Better, Faster by journalist Charles Duhigg seek to address by focusing on “strategies that cut across industries and scenarios.” As evidence of this emphasis on transcendent techniques, Gregg offers the fact that, in Duhigg’s work, “Chapters on motivation, teamwork, focus, and goal-setting precede tips on managing, decision making, innovation, and absorbing data.
This observation struck us as a philosophy of mindset over method, a theme woven through many of our posts, especially our six-part series “Winning the Collaboration Game.”
Organizing Your Day: Finding the Work “Flow” Is Vital
As we shared in a past post, IDC predicts the mobile workforce will grow to more than 105 million remote employees – nearly three quarters of the total U.S. workforce – by 2020. As digital technology enables more and more of us to operate in “work-from-anywhere arrangements,” more and more of us will find ourselves working as pivotal parts of geographically diverse teams, with colleagues spread across coasts, countries and continents.
And in the perpetual quest for better ways to organize our work days amidst this dispersed dynamic, each of us would be wise to keep in mind that it’s our thinking that makes us most productive. As developers and providers of Unified Communications solutions, we’ve advocated for years that it’s not the tools that make collaboration successful. Rather, it’s how you use them.
A 2-Step Process for Organizing Your Day by Getting into the “Zone”
“If you combine self-discipline, good habits, and a productive work space, you can retrain yourself to get into a deep state of focus when you really need to.”
– Lindsay Kolowich
In this spirit, we reviewed recent articles by productivity pundits and devised a two-step process for guiding the day-to-day pursuit of the “zone”:
1. Break One Bad Habit the First Week
A recent infographic from Online Course Report (OCR) is chock full of statistics decrying behaviors that diminish concentration and stifle productivity, such as multi-tasking and interrupting workflow to answer emails. In a recent column for LinkedIn, Emotional Intelligence guru Travis Bradberry identifies “9 Bad Habits You Must Break to be More Productive.” Absorbing all the counsel in these two articles alone is a daunting challenge to organizing your work day, not to mention making time to implement all of it.
So, we invoke our mantra of mindset over method. Don’t wholly disrupt yourself by disrupting all your hindering habits all at once. Be strategic. First, review the OCR and Bradberry pieces linked here. Identify the three behaviors you believe hamper your productivity the most, and then rank them according to impact. Next Monday, start by addressing the worst of them and go in order from there.
2. Substitute One Good Habit the Following Week
Rather than spending a lot of time breaking one bad habit and establishing a good one in the same week, we suggest you spread the work across two weeks. Concentrate on breaking a bad habit first during five work days, and the following week devote the same time and effort to creating a more productive routine. For ideas, check out the Fast Company article “10 Productivity Resolutions to Simplify Your Workday All Year Long.”
The final tip proffered on the Fast Company list is “Link Your Productivity Hacks Together.” In short, the author suggests creating connections in your mind between new productive habits and well-worn methods that already work for you. This may take a little work, but before long a “beautiful routine” will be born.