How to build tailor-made habits

Focus, on automatic

The benefits of being in the zone

  • To better focus and operate. Just like any skill, the more you practice, the more naturally efficient you become. It allows you to perform automatically, more frequently, even though all the parameters aren’t in perfect conditions;
  • To control our time and environment. The only way to find yourself in the zone is to find the time for it. Therefore, you are invited to take better control over your agenda. That’s when we realise that we are a lot more in control of our time and environment than believed;
  • To develop habits and routines. As you manage to navigate through your agenda to block various slots dedicated to certain tasks or activities, you learn about the power of building habits and routines. As you discover their benefits, you enjoy developing them.

Picture a zone

  • To be more efficient at doing this one thing;
  • To build zones for new things you’d like to focus on.
  • What: A zone means that you will do only one thing, with minimal distraction from outside elements: Practicing sport, emptying your inbox, working on a presentation, reviewing something, reading a piece.
    The what is a function of matter (which activity) and objectives (defined by how much time you want to pass on it or what you want to achieve before you move on)
  • Where: A Feng shui set-up, a closed area, silence, nature… With a coffee, a bottle of water, a bowl of grains… In the morning, late during the night, after a productive time… We have our preferred time to act upon certain things. Define your ideal set-up, then try your best to define your minimal set-up as well. For me, the minimal set-up whenever I must do things with my computer is a comfortable seat, a table and my ear plugs.
    The where is a function of location (where does it take place) and frame (when is a good time for you, what are the elements around you, how much time do you have in a given area)
  • Why: I love this parameter as it allows us to define whether what we are doing is meaningful or not. I am now writing because it has been a while and I have been thinking about this principle of being in the zone for two weeks now. I am emptying my inbox to clear my duties. I am taking an hour to climb because it makes me feel good and clear my mind. Find the reasons why you’re doing something. It always feels better to do something as we understand its reason or purpose.
    The why is a function of origin (the reason or purpose underlying what we are doing) and meaning (what does it make us feel, what is the goal of such action)
  • Who: Team sport, meetings… some activities require or are better with multiple participants. It’s important to define the reasons why each participant must be present, their contribution to the action, and how to interact with them. Don’t let anyone in your zone without making sure you define the interactions between the participants. In a meeting for instance, what is the agenda/objective of this get together, what is the role of each person and what is expected from everyone post gathering.
    The who is a function of people (who must be present) and responsibility (why are they here for)
  • How: To perform within your zone, you might need a computer to work, a mat to exercice, a pre-action to perform the next one, all your notifications off. It’s hard to find yourself in a zone without the elements that are absolutely necessary to act upon. However, be careful not to make excuses as your set is incomplete, sometimes it’s possible to work around missing pieces in order to achieve something, partially or totally.
    The how is a function of elements (what do you need) and role (what do you need those elements for, can you replace them or progress without them)

Use parameters as triggers

  • What: work-out.
  • Where: mostly at home, I don’t like to be surrounded by other people. When the kids aren’t around so preferably during the evening when they are asleep.
  • Why: to stretch by body, to feel better (reason why I start with active workout and finish with yoga).
  • Who: with my wife.
  • How: usually with a motivational video on screen to give the pace.

Now build one zone

  • Do not set the bar too high at first, there are incredible compounded effects into building one zone after another, it’s unnecessary to put yourself under ridiculous pressure during those early days;
  • Being in the zone means that you avoid distractions. Put your phone and computer in “do not disturb” mode, let people know that you don’t want to be distracted, work on your abilities to focus despite noise and distraction.



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