This article was written by Reckon Team
‘Getting in the zone’ and performing at your best should be at the centre of your business life as Reckon CEO Sam Allert describes:
“Most people can relate to the self-motivation idea of being ‘in the zone’ – that is, a flow state of heightened focus, efficiency and productivity, Whether running a café, building a house or treating patients, every business owner knows the feeling and benefit of being ‘in the zone’ or operating at their peak – they’re just held back by distractions, and worrying about things like admin, payroll and compliance that can impact work efficiency. Those that can streamline work for peak performance are not only more profitable, but they can invest more time and money in staff, marketing and innovation, to get ahead of the competition,” said Allert.
So what are some active ways you can hack your daily routine to make sure you are ‘in the zone’?
Organise your life into important pieces
Come on people, get it together. If you want to be in the zone, get quality work done and then switch off without guilt – you need a schedule. Even if you are a calendar averse person, to really achieve efficiency – not just the feeling of efficiency – you need to pay attention to your routine… even a flexible one. Routines are all about eliminating distractions and squeezing the most juice out of your day with the least amount of effort. Dead space is your enemy. It will drag your day out and make it a long, tiresome and frustrating experience full of wasted time and it never had to be like that. Efficiency is our goal, so what you need to do is block out your time to remove distractions, make sure important tasks are done first and you have room for the unexpected. After all, during our recent research of over 1000 businesses we discovered;
“Work-related distractions prevent 60% of small business leaders from getting ‘in the zone’”
Not hard to see why. We often see a lot of hours as hard work but really its just wasted time and represents poor planning. This goes for emails too – plan to check them a few short spaces through the day and ignore them outside of these slots – you will never get your stuff done if you are constantly distracted by messages.
Get it done early
Play to your strengths by understanding when you are at your best and arranging your day around this. But don’t be tempted to jump straight into work in an unready state – take time to wake up, have a nutritious breakfast and get your headspace right – you will then be in a position to smash tasks out instead of a slow unproductive trickle.
“Your morning sets up the success of your day. So many people wake up and immediately check text messages, emails, and social media. I use my first hour awake for my morning routine of breakfast and meditation to prepare myself.” Caroline Ghosn
Now you are refreshed and centered, get the most pressing task done first. Many others we interviewed agree:
“Almost half (46%) of our survey respondents were structuring their work day by tackling complex tasks in the morning or following a strict routine.”
Go to sleep!
This is the most important point here – ignore it at your peril. Good sleep is akin to a performance enhancing drug – and it needs to be a serious part of your routine. We have known for decades that good quality and good length sleep improves cognition, reduces stress, improves health, boosts creativity, wards off cancer and aids problem solving. Only recently have we discovered just how much sleep matters, and how utterly reliable and unassailable the data is. It is now seen as imperative to get over 7 hours at the very least to remain competent and healthy with 7-9 hours marking the ideal. Some of you might think you are immune and need less sleep. You are not. You are likely too sleep deprived to even make that assessment. Your subjective sense of how well you’re doing under conditions of sleep deprivation is a miserable predictor of, objectively, how you actually are doing. Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, has compiled and conducted decades of sleep research and the results are startling. A lack of sleep is destroying our brains, our health and most certainly our businesses far more than we ever suspected.
“Every key facet required for business success will fail when sleep becomes short within an organisation.”
So please don’t fall into the trap of believing sleep is laziness or a waste of time – in fact it is the single most important thing you can do with your time, if you intend to be even close to 100%. You wouldn’t run your business drunk – but you are likely doing something worse when you sleep less than 7 hours a night. If you wouldn’t drink whisky while you work, then don’t work under slept. Under sleeping renders you more useless than you realise at keeping your business together. This of course extends to your employees:
“Under-slept employees are not going to drive your business forward with productive innovation. Like a group of people riding stationary exercise bikes, everyone looks like they are pedalling, but the scenery never changes.”
As a hot tip – try to set an alarm when you should be sleeping not just when you should awake. It will work wonders.
Make time for your body or it will quit
Your routine needs to involve exercise and nutrition on some level. Hopefully a high level. Yes. You too. Your mind is an extension of your body and your body needs your help. After sleep, nutrition and exercise are the most important part of your routine to ensure you are in the zone and actually performing at peak efficiency without dead time and wasted energy.
“Diet, exercise and sleep have the potential to alter our brain health and mental function,” says Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science.
You are probably aware that good nutrition and regular exercise are favourable things. Do you view them as an integral part of your business life though? Do you rank it up there with your primary roles? Most importantly: have you scheduled it into your routine?
Plan to move
Make this a priority. Some business leader prefer to work out in the morning. Some prefer a midday jog, others enjoy evenings at the squash court or weekends spent ocean swimming. It really doesn’t matter what physical activity you choose but make it a regular scheduled feature of your working life. Exercise is one of the most important factors in mental and physical well-being. If your blood is not pumping a couple of times a week, you are not going to be truly in the zone.
“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity – John F. Kennedy”
Feed your body to feed your business
Diet is just as important. You don’t need to be a kale convert or a keto soldier, you just need to be balanced. Schedule in your lunch breaks, make it a priority to have wholesome food available to you throughout the day and plan your shopping trips. If you do not, you will find lunch times are an inexact affair and you may find yourself going without food or binging on fast food when you have not planned ahead and find your stomach making its presence audible. At the end of the day:
“I learned a few years ago that balance is the key to a happy and successful life, and a huge part of achieving that balance is to instill rituals into your everyday life – a nutritious balanced diet, daily exercise, time for yourself through meditation, reading, journaling, yoga, daily reflection, and setting goals” – Gretchen Bleiler
Interested to read the full report and learn how to get ‘In the Zone’ visit Reckon’s In the Zone Hub.