Getting into the zone takes time. Every interruption takes its toll; research has shown that on average people take 23 minutes to regain the level of focus they had prior to an interruption.

You can minimize the amount of time spent regaining focus by implementing a rule where you spend half your day alone. Naturally, you can host meetings or chat with co-workers and collaborators during the other half. Collaboration software company 37Signals (authors of the bestselling nonfiction book, Rework) write:

Set up a rule at work: Make half the day alone time. From 10am-2pm, no one can talk to one another (except during lunch). Or make the first or the last half of the day the alone time period. Just make sure this period is contiguous in order to avoid productivity-killing interruptions.

This type of practice isn’t necessarily restricted to the workplace; rather, this is even easier to implement (and perhaps more effective) for freelancers. By spending less time regaining focus, and you’ll have more time to build awesome things.

  • Jay - Jay

    getting focused = getting in the zone?

  • Ricardo McRae

    This is so true.. As a business owner that works from a home office with my wife. I find some of our most productive days, are when we’re “out of the office” and alone. I guess it time to top up my Starbucks card and work remotely.

  • Daniel

    Here here Richardo – I find the same thing with my wife at home too. But the flexibility and zero commute cant be beat!

  • William Peregoy

    It’s a good point. But, quite easy to do as a freelancer. On the flip side, I also think it is important to meet with people as often as possible.

    The balance between alone time working and meeting and collaborating can be a tough one to find. I think it’s important to keep searching until you find something that works for you (and/or your organization)

  • Peter Dewar-Finch

    It might be looking back a long way but even the great Brahms used to compose during his holidays.

  • Thedoorcanada

    What about team work, communication and feedback from coworkers …
    Isolation = limitation !

    • bsaunders

      I don’t understand why extroverts don’t get (or don’t want to get) introverts. It’s really not news. Some of us like team work, communication, and feedback from coworkers in smaller doses than others.

  • Eric Lamontagne

    What about the Pomodoro Method?
    One should work 25 minutes and rest 5 minutes, with this 23 minutes to regain the level of focus, that would mean only 2 minutes are effective?

    I think not!


    • Heather Parrish

      I think the point is that “interruptions” are unexpected. When you are using the Pomodoro Method, you are expecting to take a break after 25 minutes.

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