In The Zone

Approx. 5 minute read

Introduction

The pixels are falling into alignment, the mesh is coming together and your code is foolproof. You are in the zone my friend. It is the sweet spot in your mind where focus meets creativity. BOSH. The zone is a place that many designers, artists and other professionals talk about. It is somewhere we enter consciously or subconsciously to produce our best work. People thrive in the zone and it is where we strive to end up day to day, but we don’t get there every time. There are so many ways to access the zone and everyone has there own method. Below are a few of our favourite ways to stimulate our journey into the zone. See if they work for you, and let us know if you have any to add in the comments below.

Music & Silence

The most common and popular work aid has to be music. Everyone has their niche, be it Southern Gothic to Ed Sheeran. We create and follow playlists on Spotify for different times throughout our week. Sometimes it’s the Zen playlist, sometimes I need The Tron Soundtrack. And sometimes simple, controllable ambient noise is best. If music is your method, find what genre allows you to access the space you need and build on that. Let the music lead you into your creative zone, and find out what helps you stay there. CAUTION. Do not pick something that will steal your attention and make you forget what it was you had planned for the day. The Moana Soundtrack is off limits. 

And let’s not forget silence. Some people like to meditate to collect their thoughts in the morning. They think about the day, and what they need to do, so they can approach it with purpose. As I’m writing this I am in a quiet room. There is no music playing and no one talking in the background. This is how I reached the zone today, I had a hectic weekend, so the quiet is helping me focus and getting the words flowing.

Movement

Some people need the physical stimulus to lead them down the path to productivity. I had a teacher who would lock himself away on an exercise bike and train by himself for hours. He would train until the sweat was coming off him in sheets. He did it so he could engage his mind in a repetitive activity that helped him focus. But cycling and his level of fitness are one example. People who work from home often walk around the block before starting their day. It provides that physical switch that clicks brain into work mode. Find what you gravitate towards and give it a go. This could be the gym, taking the dog for an earlier walk, or going for a run. These don’t have to be solitary activities. Many people feel a confidence and energy boost from team sports or games, you can put this energy into your work.

Movies

So many artists and designers talk about their morning inspiration. They create mood boards on their desktop and comb through sites like Behance. They find the images and projects that are going to energise and inspire them for the day. This is helping them form a creative flow they can use to motivate themselves throughout the day. If I’m working on visualisation projects I often choose specific movies to watch in the evening. I take in the colours and compositions. And I let the production help me get my head into the character and style of the project.

Routine

Many people thrive in routine, others prefer to make it up as they go along. I love routine and I try to create routines and rituals that lead me into my zone. I have a simple task list of things to complete before sitting down at my desk. I try to complete it every day and the further I get down the list the more I can concentrate and visualise my day. It is a simple list of chores I can do while getting my thoughts together. At the end of the list I know work will begin and I am prepared. A popular one is to tidy and organise your workspace first thing. To think of it another way, before starting a particular type of work, you physically and mentally clean your space. The act of cleaning prepares your mind for a new beginning, concentration and focus. It is important to record these little routines. When you have a great day or productive session you need to find out what is working for you. Now you can do it again or be aware of what to avoid in the future.

Location

It is important to know how people work best. We all work in different spaces, some like deafening noise some deafening silence. Some people tap into the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop. Some need the quiet of a home studio and the smell of paint to get that focus. Each place has a different feel that can help people get into the zone. People often have different places for different types of work. This ranges from co working spaces to cafes and some can only think in outside spaces. A wise man once said; ‘I get my best ideas sat in front of my laptop, said no one… ever' Mark Shayler, 2016. Find the places that work for you and try different ones. If you sit down in a coffee shop and spends the whole time looking at what is going on around you, try the library, or at home. You can look into co working spaces, most of which have great prices for about 2 days per week.

Time

It is important to remember, it can take more than an hour to get into the rhythm with your work. But once you’re there what you can do is double or even tripled. It can make you defy the laws of work and concentration. No breaks, no food, no water, no blinking, that last one’s an exaggeration. But some types of work absorb you into this level of concentration. I’m not encouraging destructive behaviour, we are ALL more effective when hydrated. You need to build this into your routine. We don't want to disappear for days and emerge with a completed project, and a migraine. After all we don't want to have a great week and then crash. The goal is sustainable creativity and productivity.

Final Thoughts

Don't mistake this as an opportunity to procrastinate and waste your valuable time. We've all been there. Instead make this a specific time to focus and allow the gears in your mind to start turning.

So how do you do it?

You have to find out what works for you. It could be as simple as a 10-minute meditation, or clicking on your favourite playlist. It is important to think back, when did you make your best work? Or have that perfect day? What factors led up to that? How did you start that day?

Start recording your actions so you can see what patterns emerge and build up routines. Ask yourself, what did I do in the morning? What did I do before starting? Build on that until you can follow your personal routines and get your best work done LIKE A BOSS.

Thanks for reading.

Let us know if you have any tips to add in the comments below.