I remember the first time I hit “the zone.” It was my first time swimming with the Varsity team after about two months with the Junior Varsity. I was a freshman not knowing how to swim when I joined the team. The only reason I decided to join was because a soccer teammate said it was going to be fun. I literally thought all we’d do was splash around like one would do at a public pool. Boy, was I wrong.
I was one of three chosen to swim with the Varsity team one Saturday afternoon. My nervous excitement quickly turned into wondering why I would subject myself to the torture. It was the hardest workout I had ever done. No exaggeration, I thought I was going to die. I remember taking a stroke during freestyle and seeing my coach out of the corner of my eye with mixed looks of concern and wonder.
I thought, “This is it. This is how it’s going to end.”
And then BAM!
I touched the wall to do yet another lap and I felt.. like I was just flowing. It’s very difficult to describe, but let me take a shot at it. The zone feels like everything slows down and you are in this state of energized focus. Everything falls away–the pain, the exhaustion, the hesitation–and you become invincible. You have an intense amount of focus and attention and you’re right where you need to be.
Untouchable. Undefeatable. Unparalleled. It’s the zone. (Ha, I feel like I’m doing a slogan here but seriously though. The zone is awesome.)
Okay, now that we all know how great the zone is, let’s talk about ways to get into the zone.
Ways To Get Into The Zone
In order to accomplish big things, you have to get your brain right. Music always helps me get on a focused wavelength. It’s non-distracting enough that the background noise zones me into the task at hand. When I need to get pumped up, I listen to some beats to help get my brain going.
I’ve always been a fan of classical and instrumental music and this one does the job for me.
My first experience with visualization was the practice right before an important swim meet. Our coach had us in the weight room and he turned off the lights and asked us to close our eyes. He, then, told us to think about our perfect race from start to finish. He said envision getting up on the starting block, diving into the water, swimming our event, and winning the race. Imagine the cheers of the crowd, our team congratulating us and just the feeling of having won.
This helps you clarify your objective. It gets you remembering why you’re doing what you’re doing to begin with.
Get In The Right Environment
Nothing kills your flow more–or prevents it from happening–than an environment that isn’t conducive to getting your work done. I used to not be able to work at home because there were just too many distractions. I had to step out and get myself in multiple cafés throughout the day to be able to finish work. (You can find that particular productivity hack here.)
Breathe and Saddle Up
Our body gets into a flight or fight response when under stress. Regulating your breathing gets you in a state that’s optimal for performance.
Then, saddle up. There comes a time where you really just have to put the blinders on and put your mind on the task at hand even if you have to force yourself. As Nike says, just do it. Also, be aware that it takes at least a half hour to get into the zone. It takes me around 30-45 minutes, but when I hit it, I’m in my most productive state.
Let me know how the aforementioned suggestions work out for you! Leave a comment if there’s anything I need to add. If you liked this post, please like, share or subscribe!