In the zone

Sometimes, I read things which make me want nod out loud.

“The trouble is, getting into “the zone” is not easy. When you try to measure it, it looks like it takes an average of 15 minutes to start working at maximum productivity. Sometimes, if you’re tired or have already done a lot of creative work that day, you just can’t get into the zone and you spend the rest of your work day fiddling around, reading the web, playing Tetris.

The other trouble is that it’s so easy to get knocked out of the zone. Noise, phone calls, going out for lunch, having to drive 5 minutes to Starbucks for coffee, and interruptions by coworkers — ESPECIALLY interruptions by coworkers — all knock you out of the zone. If you take a 1 minute interruption by a coworker asking you a question, and this knocks out your concentration enough that it takes you half an hour to get productive again, your overall productivity is in serious trouble.”

It’s definitely true for me – working in an open-plan lab means that I can’t help but be interrupted on a fairly regular basis. I’ll often find that in an hour of ‘good’ work, I get as much done as I do for the rest of a whole day. Of course, it can’t all be attributed to interruptions, because sometimes I just feel ‘switched on’. It’d be nice to be able to get ‘in the zone’ on demand! Too often, my mind wanders off, and I end up in a different kind of zone…

Categories: Problems, Thoughts | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “In the zone

  1. Sally

    I heard that! I think about that alot, especially comparing productivity between different kinds of tasks. It’s so much easier when you have a series of tasks that are pretty simple in comparison to a large annoying task. That’s why I am 10 times more productive doing random work eg admin than I am at writing a paper. Ahh the joys of being an admin ass….

    • Yeah, it was interesting reading why you need to be in the zone when writing a paper – you need to be able to know what you’re trying to write, keeping it in a context of what you have already written and all the little bits of short-term memory needed to ‘make sense’.

      It’s kind of depressing to think just how many hours I’ve spent over the past 18 months trying to write papers… how many hours I’ve not achieved much, even though I’m trying to work!


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