Have you even been so intently focused on what you’re doing that you lose track of time? This is of course what researchers refer to as “flow” or “getting in the zone.” In a recent FastCo Labs article, Leanne Butkovic explains the science of exactly what’s going on in our brains when we get in the zone:
The precuneus, the part of the brain associated with self-reflection and argued to be the most important for consciousness, is very active in these moments of creative output…[it’s] also considered to be the hub of the ‘default mode’ network of the brain–the systems which work without you intentionally thinking about it. This mode is in contrast to the ‘executive faculty,’ which [is] what psychologists call our capacities for attention and reason. During states of ‘normalcy,’ we are in control of our focuses and thought processes. When you’re in the zone, this changes: Your inner monologue, co-opted by the default mode network, runs off in manic glee while the executive network effectively deactivates.
Getting in the zone is all about being in a state where our attention and thoughts are uninhibited. The best way to get into that state? Placing yourself into situations where the work can come about without much concentration. For example: writing quickly without evaluating what you’re writing or drawing without worrying where the pen is going. In other words: to experience flow, save critiquing your work for later, focus instead on freely creating first.
Explore all of the science about your brain in the zone right here.
Previously on flow: Not Too Hard, Not Too Easy: Finding Flow In Your Work