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Your Mind Zone, Minus the Cocktails

Now you’re probably wondering, what is a “mind zone?” I’m sure you didn’t know there was a name to describe this common feeling we all get.

When ones tiredness from lack of sleep, plays with his sanity until every idea, good or bad, sounds genius. The mind zone typically strikes between 4-7 and is easier induced with the aid of alcohol.

In this post, I’m here to share a couple of ways I deal with the mind zone, even without the cocktails. It’s possible, I promise!

Everyone has those incredible days when they’re in the zone. We wake up with our brains firing, focusing in on each task and completing it in record time, managing to get through all those jobs we’ve been putting off. Nothing can stop us, even important meetings or dates feel effortless. Sadly for most of us, those days are the minority. Mostly, we lose minutes or hours by staring at a screen or reading the same words over and over, putting off important but annoying tasks. In short, we waste time because we can’t get into a groove or zoom into whatever we need to be doing. Throughout my career, I try to help you become more efficient and free up some of that precious time in your day. That’s why the ability to focus is so important. If you can get your things done faster and be more efficient, you get more time in your day. So how do we do this?

Although everyone is different (you could be at school studying, taking care of a family, in an office typing memos, cooking, cleaning, or doing something totally different with your day), there is one universal thing that works for everybody— cut out distractions. Whatever you are trying to get done will go much faster and be better if you put away your phone, move to a quiet area away from people you know, and make sure you have set aside time where no one will bother you. Our brains can only handle a certain amount of stimulus, and if we have too much going on, it can’t focus on the key thing at hand. So a very simple step is to reduce the number of things that could distract you.

Now that you’ve got yourself some space and quiet, I want you to try something for me—sit up straight, close your eyes, roll back your shoulders, and take a couple of deep breaths in and out. As you do this, try to visualize what you are about to do, and see it being completed. Open your eyes and take another deep breath. This is something I do when I need to focus. I find it helps me because I’m always carrying a million different ideas and conversations in my head. I need to bring myself into the moment, to put all that background noise out of my head and just focus on what I need to achieve.

It’s easy to forget just how much we carry around with us, so let it go. Stop thinking about the next job or the task after that, you’ll get to all of them. Start with the issue at hand.

Now what if you have a big event, a job interview, important meeting, or an exam? The same rule applies. You need to bring yourself into the moment but you also need to manage those nerves. Being nervous is not fun, we’ve all made mistakes or performed worse than we should have just because we got tense. I know a lot of people who really struggle with this and it holds them back in life. There is no one-size-fits-all option here because we all  handle things differently, but I’d like to share a practice that I actually do, even if it sounds pretty strange—the power pose.” Remember how I told you earlier that when you feel yourself spiraling, you should sit up straight and breathe? The power pose is a bigger version of that (in case you think this sounds dumb, you should look up a TED talk by Professor Amy Cuddy and see the science behind it).

Go to the bathroom and get into a cubicle so no one can see you, stand up tall and proud, and put your hands on your hips with your chest out and hold that for two minutes. I’m not going to tell you that this guarantees success—but it will probably make you feel better right before you go into that meeting or exam hall. It may give you that extra boost you need to put your nerves to the side and perform at your best, it certainly works for me.

The way you perceive yourself affects how you perform and how others perceive you. If you believe that you are a strong, smart person, when you go to take on that task (whatever it may be), you will look like it and you will perform better. So find yourself some space, put away the distractions, stay in the moment, take deep breaths, and fix that posture—now you can zone in and focus.

Excerpt from the book ‘Pulling It All Together’ by Paul Wharton – available on Amazon.