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Getting in the "zone" or "flow"

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Olimac21

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How do you normally get focused to do difficult or long hours of work? Do you have any routines or mind games you use to improve performance?

I always go for a run before I need to do focused work, it helps me concentrate afterwards. A very good night sleep is also essential.
 

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Fpm9

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I wear some nice clothes, go to a quiet coffee shop or a public library, where there is no distractions and where many other people are also working. I get a large cup of good quality coffee and start working. Short breaks every 30mins, and longer break after a few hours.
 

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I have this weird little routine where I tidy my desk, tidy whatever's around me, and shutdown all programs except what I need.

Beforehand I used to go for a walk to clear my head and let my brain work out what actually needs done. Sometimes it wasn't what was on my to-do list. (I should get back into this habit... it worked wonders for me.)
 

InspireHD

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For the past couple weeks I have been keeping track of my "productivity." I track it in 20 minute blocks so that I know that 3 blocks equal 1 hour worth of productivity. When I tell myself it's time to do some work, I set a timer for 20 minutes and do only that. More often than not, I'll either want to keep going since now I'm working on it or I'll want to keep working to increase the amount of blocks I can stack for the day.

I create these blocks of time for anything that I feel is worth my time. For example, yard work, work around the house, anything business related, reading, listening to audiobooks, going to the gym, going for a run, or bike ride, and/or generally anything that I should do, but don't really want to do. If after 20 minutes I don't want to do it anymore, then I stop.

Things that don't get added on are when I'm just watching tv, hanging out, wasting time playing a video game to clear my mind, browsing the internet and researching nonsense that isn't actually productive, or just aimlessly doing nothing. I have a tendency to just want to turn my brain off.

My real-life job wears me out mentally and so this exercise has helped me get my time back. It might sound odd, but one way I get myself out of the "turn my brain off mode" is by planning out tasks or directing myself to do work. It's "living on purpose" and taking control of my time.

One drawback is that although reading books and audiobooks and maybe something that "improves me or makes me a better person" is counted, it's not entirely creating progress in my business. The main purpose of tracking my "productivity" is to reduce procrastination on doing nothing.

In 15 days that I've been doing this, I have tracked 37 hours of "productivity or improvement related tasks." I average about 2.5 hours per day, which averages 7.4 twenty minute time blocks per day. My lowest is 1 (the goal is always at least 1) after I had a super stressful day at work and I got home and just crashed on the couch. My highest day is 15 (that's 5 hours, which also included riding 31 miles on my bike).
 

Youngkody

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How do you normally get focused to do difficult or long hours of work? Do you have any routines or mind games you use to improve performance?

I always go for a run before I need to do focused work, it helps me concentrate afterwards. A very good night sleep is also essential.

@Camilo Ardiles Everyone has processes that are most efficient and most suited for them.

For me, I like to make sure all my other work is done before applying myself to something. I like to make sure I have no other worries aside from what it is I'm doing at the current moment.

Make sure your conditions are right before you start that way you are less likely to get distracted by impulse.
 

Imgal

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Brain.fm has worked really well for me for focus... that and the Hitman games soundtrack (don't ask me why it just does..).

I still haven't mastered it yet though. In sport, I can get into a zone and be uber focused in seconds and nothing can knock me out of it for hours. In business, I can get in the zone for an hour or so every now and then, but usually it's 20 min and then my mind is starting to wander. Thinking I need to try batching things better so I'm working on a particular thing (like Youtube optimisation) for a couple of hours for multiple accounts then switch to another platform. At the moment I tend to stick to doing things for a client in batches which has me jumping about all over the place.
 

Christopher777

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Focus for a long time doing something that is productive and yet mildly challenging.

You will predictably hit a wall. It's where you get tired and a bit "hurting" to go forward. It's called resistance.

Keep going through that wall, essentially forcing your way through, until you achieve a good amount of flow where you are beginning to do stuff effortlessly as well as feel this magical "buzzing" feeling.

Take a break to recover and see if the buzzing feeling remains.

This is what I do to consistently achieve it. I have a more detailed process outlined, but try this out and report back.
 

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comfy clothes + beanie + headphones with music on repeat. I track all my days. Anything less than 4 hours is "not enough work" day. Any days after that I usually pump out a good amount of work.
I need the beanie and headphones though.

If I hit a wall, I'll cut out all distractions and force myself to stare at the screen if I have to. Works really well.
If it's a "real fatigue" wall where nothing is working, I take a break.

I usually only get productive around 5pm though :/ 5pm-2am is my work time. Before that I'm at the gym. I've tried to fix it a couple days ago but slowly reverted back to my old schedule :/ I'll fix it eventually but right now it's working so whatever.

Seriously can't get anything done without the beanie and headphones though :rofl::rofl:
 

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I use the pomodoro technique. Set a timer for 25min and allow for 5min of distraction when done. Start again. The breaks are important. Getting into the zone once is not that complicated. But sustaining it over the day is.

For organising everything around that, I use some parts of the "Getting things done" book. Especially the "tickler file" is a great tool to postpone stuff into the future.

As soon as my brain knows that stuff will be handled in the right moment in the future, I can truly forget it today. So I try to have as few things on my mind as possible.
 

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Olimac21

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I use the pomodoro technique. Set a timer for 25min and allow for 5min of distraction when done. Start again. The breaks are important. Getting into the zone once is not that complicated. But sustaining it over the day is.

For organising everything around that, I use some parts of the "Getting things done" book. Especially the "tickler file" is a great tool to postpone stuff into the future.

As soon as my brain knows that stuff will be handled in the right moment in the future, I can truly forget it today. So I try to have as few things on my mind as possible.
I use pomodoro most of the times, especially when I am doing an activity with a fixed goal. Would you recommend "Getting things done" book? Have heard parts of the systems suggested by David Allen is quite complicated.
 

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Great topic. Here's what generally helps me:
1. Going to a place where other people are. Bonus points if they are also working or learning. Libraries, caffes and co working spaces raise my productivity by a great degree. First off, since there are other people in the room, I would feel ashamed to start watching silly YouTube clips or indulge myself in whatever distractions. Secondly, there is some kind of "hustle/focus" vibe in the air and it really helps. Maybe thanks to the mirror neurons. Additionally, some coworking spaces being pretty expensive can serve as good pressure.
2. Headphones. Great for cutting off any annoying music and outside noise. I can't do anything without them. I play ambient electronic music with no lyrics such as carbon based lifeforms, solar fields, aes dana, huva network, stellardrone etc. It's emotional enough to keep me entertained, but not to the point of being a distraction. Also, brainwaves and binaurals. Totally. Here's one of my favorites:
View: https://youtu.be/_5mfNxFuXos

3. Chrome plug-ins: Facebook newsfeed eradicator, stayfocused
4. Time counter/stopwatch. Every time I become distracted I stop it so by the end of the day I can know how many hours were really productive. The depth of self deception can be immense.
5. Everyday meditation, 20 minutes in the morning. I like Eckhart Tolle's approach of just sitting on the chair and staring at the wall or whatever object. No woo woo stuff. There are many scientific research papers proving its effectiveness, provided you do it every single day for at least two weeks without stopping.
6. No more than three main tasks a day, written down on a piece of paper.
7. Apps such as todoist and habitica can also be helpful. The latter helps you gamify your work and it often does the trick (dopamine brain response)
8. I usually work in 45 minute blocks. The usual Pommodoro timing could work for some tasks, but generally, it takes me too long to get into the zone with many things, especially creative, so it would be counterproductive to spend 10 minutes gaining momentum, work for 15 and stop for 5.
9. Obviously, but not obviously enough for many people, hydrate yourself regurarly with water. Vitamins, good nutrition and sports also help for sure, but I'm too far from disciplined on this topics to elaborate. I recently tried ginger and later gingko biloba, but I'm not sure if I could feel any difference.
 
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JAJT

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I've tried everything but nothing quite does it like:

1. Having a pretty important and well defined task to actually focus on.
2. Starting on literally anything related to it.

If I'm trying to 'work' but have no goal other than to 'do something' I waste a lot of time. Planning, thinking, analyzing, etc... are all time killers for me.

But if I have something super specific and I can just get even 1 email started or 1 sentence written (or whatever) then I can lose 8 hours before I know what happened.

All the other little tricks and tools and helpers are nice but I've always had a hell of a hard time with it. Now that I'm building something worth building I have more tasks than hours so all I ever have to worry about right now is getting that first step out of the way.
 

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I've tried everything but nothing quite does it like:

1. Having a pretty important and well defined task to actually focus on.
2. Starting on literally anything related to it.

This is great, and I think you posted something similar to this last week, that got me thinking.

I've tried a lot of the stuff mentioned in this thread, but doing so without your #1 in place, is like treating the symptom, but not the disease.
 

Olimac21

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Question that came to my mind a few days ago: would you change your approach depending on the level of complexity of the task?
 

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