In the Zone

Are you in the zone? I was hoping to be in the zone to go hard on my study this weekend but life being the fun thing she is I have a hideously sore throat and serious snuffles. Yes, germs already from the unwashed teenage beast. Not happy…

Being in the zone is one of those phrases we toss around with gay (old meaning of the word) abandon. We use it to mean being ready, being in the right place to do something. Being in the zone is a state of mind, of preparedness and we mostly know it from sport. But being in the zone is more than that. It’s actually about being fully immersed in your activity, your work, or your sport – no it’s not about being fully immersed in the pleasure of your bath.

Being in the Zone or Flow is about being so immersed in the activity you feel energized, fully involved and find it enjoyable. Think running, think swimming – once you get over the initial pain of getting fit, you find the experience up-lifting and highly pleasurable. Flow – being in the Zone – has been explored by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (and others) and is connected to a wide range of fields. He first stumbled upon the concept through noting how artists would essentially get lost in their work, to such an extent that the need for food, water and rest was ignored.


6 factors equal the experience of flow, or being in the zone

*intense and focused concentration on the present moment

*merging of action and awareness

*loss of reflective self-consciousness

*a sense of personal control over the situation or activity

*a distortion of temporal experience – to wit, you lose all sense of time

*experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding


Do you recognize yourself in certain activities? If you are into fitness or artistic pursuits you should see yourself there. I also see something that would be most useful in a classroom – if we could get the little darlings there, into the zone of learning, how successful they would be!


But getting into the zone is the hardest thing. I need to be in the zone for a range of things:

To mark my books

To write

To work on my study

To regain fitness (oh, yes & diet)


In case you were wondering, there are agreed to conditions that need to be met to be successful in the zone, to find your flow:

1.Your activity needs clearly set goals and progress points – how many kilos off this week, how many chapters written?

2.The task needs clear & immediate feedback so we know how to adjust performance and stay in the zone – the mirror, your clothes, your readers, editor, supervisor

3.You need to have enough confidence in your ability to complete the task at hand – do you have the skills and the desire to complete your task – or when you falter can you get back on the horse?


Can I manage to get into the zone this weekend? Is there a zone you need to be in? Hopefully I can be so fully immersed in my zone that the annoyance and discomfort of my throat is magically spirited away. (Images from Private Collection)


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