Set the conditions to make work really flow

Set the conditions to make work really flow

Most days work doesn’t flow; it moves in fits and starts between seemingly endless interruptions. You can, however, create conditions that allow you to immerse yourself in important work, to spend an hour or more “in the zone,” fully concentrating and working effectively. These four habits will make it possible:

  1. Block out time. If your calendar is typically packed, schedule an appointment with yourself. That shows your colleagues that you will be unavailable and allows you to reject other requests for your time by saying “I have an appointment.” You don’t have to reveal that it is with yourself.
  2. Eliminate interruptions. Close your door, turn off your email program and send calls directly to voice mail. If that doesn’t stop people from bothering you, schedule time alone in the conference room, work from home or find time before most people arrive or after they leave the workplace. 
  3. Prepare for action. Before you start working ensure that you have at your fingertips all the materials you will need, such as research or previous years’ budgets. Clear anything that might distract you. Remove other papers from your desk. And we’ll say it again: Turn off your email program.
  4. Develop a ritual. Train your brain to be ready to concentrate with a set of habits. Pour a certain type of tea. Play a particular type of music quietly in the background. Breathe deeply or stretch just before you begin. Doing the same thing over and over before you sit down to concentrate will allow you to reach that state of focus faster.

With a little preparation you will find your way into “the zone” and speed through your work.

What is the most frequent source of interruptions you deal with?

Respond to the poll here! 

Can you imagine a month without email? Read about one executive’s extreme email diet in the Ripped from Real Life section at

Our Readers Tell Us!
Checking Messages at Disneyland

We asked readers about the worst time someone was caught checking messages, and Pat Rainey shared a story about something that happened before people had mobile phones.

“Once when on a business trip/vacation in Disneyland my husband and his boss were on adjoining payphones voice-mailing each other about work issues,” she said. As the wives strolled through the park, “We had to check that they were still with us every time we passed a bank of phones!”

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