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In The Zone Expand / Collapse
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Posted Thursday, June 19, 2008 7:39 AM


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I frequent the "Zone"! However, for me it can be a problem as I am usually not fully into it until late in the afternoon and early evening (after the days distractions have leveled-out), only then it is time to quit and go home. Therefore, I wind up working late hours, even when I know I have other things that have to get done around the house after work.

I have fallen into a habit of wasting my mornings (sort-of) by reviewing emails, running down threads on the net, and responding to blogs such as this one, before getting to the task-at-hand.

It sure would be nice to increase my productivity by getting in the Zone earlier in the day, but not at the expense of my SQLServerCentral.com newsletters and blogs!


Ron K.

"Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand." -- Martin Fowler
Post #519860
Posted Thursday, June 19, 2008 8:20 AM
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I think you bring up a good point, Ron, about "when" the zone can happen. While I occasionally hit the zone during work hours (if the difficultly level of a problem is sufficiently engaging), I'm really much, much more able to "hit the zone" in the evenings. It is one reason why I don't think the 8-5 workday is as optimal as it is prevalent.
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Posted Thursday, June 19, 2008 8:20 AM
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Steve, you got the essence of the Zone exactly! At least, what it is to me.

I also have a time problem with it. My best productivity doesn't start until about 3 pm. If not interrupted, I could easily stay in the Zone until 9 pm. However, as the mother of a small child, this is never possible and I have to stop and go home at 5 pm. In truth, my work post-child has suffered because of this.
Post #519898
Posted Thursday, June 19, 2008 8:35 AM
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Coming from a support programmer role, the "Zone" is something a bit different, I believe. Often there are multiple fires - to a developer working on a single project, these are the distractions. But to a support programmer, being in the zone requires managing multiple tasks at once, filtering out the unnecessary or less urgent, and concentrating on each according to its priority. I describe that as "In the Zone" as well - a series of bang-out, knock-down fixes that come one after the other...

That said, there are times where I have to quiet the distractions around me and concentrate on a single issue - and I also think of movies. "The Legend of Bagger Vance" comes to mind. It's a golf movie, but Will Smith narrates to Matt Damon, and while he's in "In the Field" (I think that's the term used), the specators disappear, and the green - a good 200 yards away - seemingly moves closer to Damon's character. It's the only thing in focus. In IT, I think that singlemindedness can be both an asset and a liability.
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Posted Thursday, June 19, 2008 8:41 AM
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Like everyone else, the most difficult part to accomplish to get into a peaceful and focused mental state of mind is related to distractions from colleagues, emails, phone calls,... and poor management. It is quite difficult in the first place to get into it but so easy to fall out of it. I am wondering what everyone else is using, in terms of practical tips, to block those distractions besides the typical "I will stay a couple of hours after work when no one is around."
Cheers.


"Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write
code that humans can understand." -Martin Fowler et al, Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code, 1999
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Posted Thursday, June 19, 2008 8:46 AM
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I agree with Steve's definition. I think one aspect of the Zone is that you are making progress on a problem, which is almost like bio-feedback and gains momentum. I think that's why it is so satisfying when you "come out of the Zone" and realize how much progress you've made.

Working in cubicles does make it hard to get/stay in the Zone. I'll put on headphones and listen to music - in my case, classical/instrumental to get back into the Zone, but once I'm there, I don't need white noise. Also, I am definitely a morning person. I used to get up at 4:15 am, and get 2 solid hours of Zone before I got the kids up, off to school and left for the office! (Now, I get up at 5:30 and out the door to beat the morning rush hour, and get settled in my cubicle before other people start to show up.)
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Posted Thursday, June 19, 2008 8:55 AM


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In my thinking Brandon has it spot on. I think a lot has been mentioned here about being able to concentrate, but not being in the zone. I also work better when there are no distractions and I can concentrate. But being in the zone is when the distractions aren't distracting. Some would call that being able to concentrate, but I think it is more than that. I think focusing is a lost art. We, myself include think the interrupts are more important than the task at hand. How many of us ignore the cell and talk with the person in front of us? How many of us are texting someone else while talking with our friends? We live in an ADHD world but most of us do not have ADHD.

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Posted Thursday, June 19, 2008 9:22 AM
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I have quite a bit of experience being "in the zone". For me, it's more like yoga. When someone is deep in yoga, minor distractions do not affect the concentration. The zone is like I am in an opaque, sound-proofed bubble. I can work right through people talking next to me or telephones ringing. It's more than concentration. It's kind of a Zen thing.

I don't really remember what has happened while I was in the zone. I have to think about it to recall what I accomplished. I get into the zone more easily with headphones playing music (anything from Arthur Fiedler to the Zombies) and if my calendar is clear of meetings. If I know a meeting is coming, I can't get into the zone or I will miss the meeting.

I never know when I will go into the zone. I don't plan for it. It just seems to happen. I realize when I come out of it that I was in it. Maybe it's more like self-hypnosis than yoga. I tend to feel very relaxed afterwards.

The longest I was in the zone was 5 hours. It started about 1:00PM after lunch and I didn't get out of it until 6:00PM. I was writing code that needed to be completed by the next day.

There are times when I could stay longer if I didn't have to use the rest room. My family says I'm a freak but I will be showing them this thread to show them that I'm not alone. :D
Post #519955
Posted Thursday, June 19, 2008 9:22 AM
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"In the Zone": when I realize that I have a headache because lunch time was several hours ago - but I accomplished more than usual in the hours that slipped by.


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Posted Thursday, June 19, 2008 10:02 AM
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How does one get to the zone? Peter told us it is
"Second to the right, and straight on till morning"

:):):):):)



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