Getting in the zone versus cranking out the easy work
Posted on June 29th, 2012
To do our absolute best work we have to be in the zone, concentrating fully on that task at hand and ignoring all other todos or distractions. We have to be immersed in the work, we have to know where we left off last time, the current problems, the ultimate goal, the current todo, our tools have to be ready, we need to be focused, alert and interested.
All that takes time and the right conditions. You can’t just rock up to your desk and get in the zone straight away. You need time to power up your tools, to forget the last thing you did, to forget the distractions and the hilarious joke you heard earlier. You can’t get focused on your best work if your email is peppering your screen with pop-ups or if co-workers/friends/family are coming over to your desk to chat all the time. You need at least 5-15 minutes to get focused and into your work and you need the time to stay there.
You absolutely need some in the zone time if you are going to create your best work. But don’t let the lack of distraction-free time stop you from getting stuff done. Everyone is busy, there’s so much social media to read, so much news to keep on top of, people to spend time with, TV to watch, etc – time in the zone can be hard to come by.
But being short of large chunks of distraction-free time shouldn’t stop you from getting stuff done, shouldn’t keep you from building your side-project, making your idea or creating your startup in your spare time. Your best work does happen when you are in the zone, but your project almost certainly requires a lot of grunt work that you can churn out without thinking about, the easy work still needs to be done.
If you are putting off working on your project because you are waiting for a large block of uninterrupted time then your are just wasting valuable time in which you could be making real progress. Lets say you are building a website, which at its core has a really tough algorithm that is going to take weeks to write – even though there’s that tough two-week nut to crack that is going to mean some serious distraction-free time there’s still so much that needs doing that is easier work: the web pages, the login form, the marketing blurbs, the coming-soon page, the e-commerce basket, the admin panel, getting hosting, the domain name, setting up the database, etc, etc. This is stuff that you’ve done many times before and you can knock this stuff off in easy short pieces of activity without even really thinking about it. It’s the bread and butter but it needs to be done. Don’t delay.
Any project that requires your best work will need some in the zone time but don’t wait for that to happen, get the bread and butter tasks done as well. It’s tempting to put off the easy stuff because you know you can crank it out in 10 minutes, well, take 10 minutes now and cross if off your todo list – your project will look closer to finished, you’ll be nearer your goal and more likely to finish and ship. ∗
Photo by: C.O.D Library