Zone out to focus better
In the cacophony of deadlines, phone calls, emails, to-do’s, meetings, reviews and what nots, it just dawned on me last week that I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do most – WRITE! And that just can’t be fair when the whole reason I started a content solutions firm was because I love to write! “There is obviously something insanely wrong in the way I’m scheduling my days.” I thought.
Does this seem like you? You’re in a company (or your own business) performing a job description that you love – except you haven’t been paying attention to your love anymore and are instead caught up with the regular mundane stuff that surrounds it. Well I attempted to plan something and partially stuck to the plan…and it gave me the space to dig out a gasping-for-air me. I must share.
1. Schedule a day without meetings or reviews
So upon my realization last week, I planned 2 weeks in such a way that I had absolutely nothing to do today. Well, it didn’t work to the T, but at least I managed to get half a day to myself. And so I’m here. How did I do it? I advanced some of my deadlines so that I wouldn’t be worrying about them today, I refused meetings or conference calls between 12 and 6, I decided to keep low priority work for the next day and communicated any change in plans to my clients, juniors and collaborators. I called it my “Zone Out” day
In this beautifully written article, Matt Steel, a Partner and Creative Director at Grain, a full service creative firm in the US, talks about being slow and reflecting on what you’re doing or what you want to do. What hits me most in this write-up is when Matt talks about his business coach and mentor, Peleg Top, telling him that he has “never encountered a true design emergency”. When you work for most parts of the service industry, it becomes quite easy to forget that you’re NOT emergency services. You don’t run a hospital or an ambulance service or a security agency. Just remembering this fact will allow you to take time off for yourself. Reflection is necessary for anyone in the creative field. Without it, you’re never bringing out your best work. I see it with myself and my team all the time – the work that we do when we have ample time on our hands or after a few days off is far more superior than when we’re only scrambling to meet deadlines.
3. Just do your own thing
There aren’t supposed to be any targets to achieve or any tasks to complete on Zone Out day. The goal of my Zone Out day is to get inspired. That’s it! To read. To write. If I come up with something impressive, that’s great. If I don’t, I had a nice chilled out day without a tensed eyebrow.
4. But don’t facebook!
Facebooking is NOT gonna get you anywhere. It’s a distraction, and the last thing you need on a Zone Out day. Why would you want to be distracted from zoning out?
When you are in the thick of things, your focus is usually very narrow. Zoning out allows you to broaden this focus for a short while. When you do this, you are re-introduced to the bigger goals in your life. And then align your focus accordingly. Think of it like zooming out of your camera to see the complete landscape when you can’t find the object you were photographing at the distance and zooming back in when you spot it.
Today is my Zone Out day. And I may not have earned my Rupee for the day, but I created content – something that I am passionate about and something that may someday pay me back in ways I can never know now.
- How to Find Your Zone (vizziblog.com)
- Programmers: How To Get Into The Zone And Code With Flow. (elance.com)
- We Live in a World Full of Distractio… (benchmarkemail.com)