When it comes to sitting down to write, action is much more important than thinking about it, so I’m going to keep this short.
The easiest way for you to actually park yourself into a seat to write your toast is to get yourself into “The Zone.” Yes, it’s one of those things that’s simple but not easy. If you’ve ever stayed up most of the night to finish a long project, you’ve been in “The Zone.” If you’ve ever defeated a video game from start to finish in one sitting, you know it. If you’ve ever successfully mapped out your family’s calendar for a busy week, you’ve been there. And if you’ve ever intended to vacuum one room, then next thing you know the entire apartment/house is squeaky clean, you’ve been in “The Zone.”
I wish I could produce a capsule called “The Zone,” which transports you there when taken orally. If I could, I would be rich enough to own my own island, and maybe a seat on the next commercial flight to the moon.
But since I can’t personally take you to “The Zone” without significantly more hypnosis training, what I can offer is how to set yourself up to get there. How to pack your bags for “The Zone” and wait by the bus stop for it to inevitably arrive.
- Prepare Yourself With Every Tool You’ll Need To Write – If you are going to type on a computer, tablet, or phone, prepare the following:
- The instrument needed, fully (or almost) fully charged
- Charger for that instrument. Even if it’s fully charged, it feels more relaxing to have the security blanket so you don’t think about it. You want to be thinking about one thing only: composing your brilliance.
- Your spot.If you’re at home, sit in the place where you focus the best. If at a coffee shop or public place, pick the table or bench that works the best for you. If you like your daydreaming, give yourself the window or a good view.
If you’re writing with the ole pen and paper, don’t forget these tools to your workspace:
- Multiple writing utensils. I know this may sound obvious and even patronizing, but it throws off my game completely to have a pen that doesn’t work or pencil that breaks. Then you have to get up (and out of The Zone) to borrow one or find another in a drawer.
- Notebook or paper that’s easy to find again. Please don’t do this on loose paper that you’ll stuff somewhere that’s hidden. Not only do you want this in a frequently used notebook/folder, you need to leave any progress you’ve made in a place that you’ll run into consistently. If you’re known to misplace things (like me), throw this in your laptop back, gym bag, in your go-to drawer or even in the bathroom at home, since there’s no doubt you’ll go in there on the regular.
- Activate Your OBS (Optimal Background Sounds) – For some, it’s silence or the serene sounds of the outdoors. For others, it’s the hustle and bustle of a public venue, like a coffee shop, restaurant, food court, or office setting. For me, it’s music, especially certain albums and playlists. In fact, here are my exact Top 3 things to listen to when I want to get in a thinking and writing Zone:
- Home, Like No Place is Thereby The Hotelier
- True North by Jillette Johnson
- Anythingby Matt Pryor (from The Get Up Kids)
I don’t know why, but when I listen to any of these albums, I am able to get in The Zone and focus intensely on what I’m trying to accomplish. They are my OBS. Find your OBS.
- Make Deals With Yourself – You may be wondering how long you can expect to stay in The Zone once you find it. We all get tired, hungry or distracted, even when we’re in The Zone. The key is to give yourself a sense of urgency through commitment milestones.
For me, personally, I work best in about 30-minute increments, which conveniently lines up with the approximate length of my OBS albums. The deal I make with myself is to be completely focused for the length of the album, and if I want a break after that, I’m allowed. However, there are some times where I am so in the zone that I don’t even realize the album ended and I keep working.
It’s as simple as promising yourself a reprieve (a break, a snack or meal after, a nap, video game time, or other) after fulfilling your commitment of focused time. Most of us like a sense of urgency when doing something we may otherwise procrastinate against.
Promise yourself a defined period of laser focus, and you might find that you get more done in that time then you would in several hours of casual tinkering.
Well, I didn’t keep this “short” at all, but you’re still reading, aren’t you?!
I’d wish you luck, but you don’t need it.
Go get in THE ZONE!