There’s nothing quite like getting in your groove and jamming on a project. It feels exhilarating to be in the zone or in “flow.” But just like being awakened from a deep sleep, getting snapped out of flow by an unnecessary interruption can be jarring, and it can take up to 2 hours to get back to the same deep state of flow.
It’s time for us all to guard our flow the same way we guard our sleep.
Here are 6 ways you can Fool Proof Your Flow:
- Headphones — An oldie, but a goodie. Headphones have become the international sign for “Don’t Talk to Me.” For maximum visual impact, get a massive pair of over-the-ear headphones — which have the added benefit of keeping your ears warm in the winter.
- Do Not Disturb — It might seem too obvious, but what’s wrong with simply asking not to be disturbed? Make a small sign that protrudes over the wall of your cube, or literally stick it to your monitor or back if you don’t have a cube. People will get the point.
- Move Desks — People can’t interrupt you if they can’t find you. Moving to a dark corner that isn’t highly trafficked will give you the seclusion you crave. But avoid public spaces like lobbies, conference rooms, and cafeterias. Those areas will most likely lead to MORE interruptions, not less.
- Work From Home — The Ultimate Flow Fool Proofer! Working from home and turning off all notifications on your computer or phone is the equivalent of working in a cocoon — granted that you don’t have kids, partners, or pets that can break your flow.
- Kill All Notifications — Interruptions may come from people physically getting in your space, or from from message virtually getting in your space. But either way, they snap you out of flow and into someone else’s drama.
- Turn on your Out-of-Office Email Notifications — Nothing says “I’m not available” like an email reply that literally says, “I’m not available.”
And if all else fails, move to a cabin in the woods. It seemed to work for Thoreau!
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You might also enjoy reading, How To Write Actionable Emails At Work.