The Sneaky Independent – Issue #2: The Zone of Focus

You know, I thought I had magic powers. Move things with my mind, conjure things from nowhere, summon powerful spirits of air and fire to rain destruction down on my enemies. As a kid you sure can imagine a lot, especially when you play video games and watch cartoons.

I don’t think I ever grew out of that phase, though. When I got older, I watched Star Wars. It went from magic to The Force. I was a jedi, noble and true, capable of wielding such great powers that I could bring down a starship with the force alone. I built makeshift lightsabers and battled evil sith lords and always saved the day.

As I got a bit older, I fancied myself a genius. I wanted to build The Enterprise from Star Trek. I tried to figure out ways to make faster than light travel a thing. It was all good fun, but there was a common pattern, I really wanted to be special. To have something special.

Of course,  I became a teenager and life began its dream crushing phase, where you learn that perhaps you aren’t as awesome as you think you might be. I discovered that I only really loved social interaction and music: band. The rest? Well, math, english and writing could all take a hike. (Except for creative writing. That I excelled at.)

What I didn’t realize at the time was I do have a special power. It’s something everyone has, but very few recognize in themselves. We tend to see it in athletes the easiest, but we sometimes notice it in master musicians and performers. We usually can’t put our finger on it because to most people, it appears to look like luck.

But it’s not luck.

Now I’m going to stop here and say that we usually think it’s just training. Training the mind and body to it’s peak condition and that’s why these athletes and performers to seemingly inhuman levels of mastery. But it’s deeper than that.

It’s not training. Really.

I mean, sure, training helps. Habits are powerful, and they can push us to do great and awesome things, especially over a longer period of time. But again, it goes deeper than training. It’s something that starts before the training begins and works hand in hand with training.

It’s the juice, the magic power, the power of the mind that drives the training, drives the productivity. It drives the business man to make his millions. It drives the athlete to win games. It drives the guitar player to be a virtuoso. It’s The Force of the mind and it can move figurative mountains.



The Force of the Mind

I’m using this force power right now as I write. I know I am, I can feel it. I feel different, motivated, energized. Focused.

You know you are in this Force of Mind when you are working. When everything else falls away and all distractions disappear as barely audible background noise. I can only see the words I’m typing on the screen; it’s like a trance. My fingers are letting the words travel freely from my brain to the keyboard and I’m doing so without thought, because I know what I’m going to type.

I hear the things going on. My daughter has some YouTube video up right now; some silly song playing. But while I’m conscious of it, it doesn’t affect me at all. My other pc monitors, while in my peripheral vision, aren’t even registering as there.

I am in my force of mind. Focused, 100%, on what is going on. And in this moment, I can’t stop doing what I’m doing. I’m being productive at 120% capacity.

Right now, I’m tracking how many words I’m writing an hour. I’m currently at a little over 2400. Seem impossible? It’s because I’ve discovered this powerful Force of Mind focus mode and I know how to tap into it. I know how to bind my mind to do my bidding and boy, is it effective.

This magic force of mind has been called all sorts of things. The Zone, Good Luck, Single-Tasking, Focused, and more. Generally, people sort of scoff at this. “Psh, focused. Yeah I can focus too.”

Except you probably haven’t really been focused much. Generally our species, modern humans, multitask way, way, WAY too much. We have a million distractions going on all at once. We have TV’s on, radio’s on, people buzzing around us, stopping at our desk and asking us questions, our phones demanding our attention and more.

We might be trying to do two things at once: cook dinner and write, perhaps. I’ve done it before, in fact I do it too much. But while you are doing two things at once, you are not working efficiently. Your mind is not in the zone because it is not committed to the task right in front of you.


The Problem with Multitasking

Don’t believe me? Track your word count when you write next and are doing something like cooking dinner, something like having to get up to stir veggies or pasta. Keep track of how fast you write.

Then, later when you are without distractions, spend an hour writing without anything else going on. Let your mind just focus 100% on getting words on a page. Don’t stop to edit, don’t stop to think, just let it flow. And be sure to give yourself the full hour of writing. No matter what, let the words flow. And do NOT let any distractions in. Tell your family to take care of themselves for once, shut your phone off, close the door, turn off the internet and write.

Even untrained, you’ll notice a few hundred words per hour difference. It happens because of The Zone. The force of mind and it’s amazing the difference it makes, especially over time.

Sure, you might not think a few hundred words an hour makes a huge difference. But imagine it over the course of 10 hours of writing this week. If you get even a modest 200 words an hour increase…that’s 2000 words more! That’s an entire chapter written that you didn’t have before!

But take that even further…over 40 hours. That’s four more chapters than before. Four.

A single change from unfocused, all over the place work to pure, delightful focused work can yield a multitude of better results. Because not only are you better focused and writing faster, you are also writing better. And you are going to feel better too.



The Natural Drug of Your Brain

I’m going to give you a drug right now. You want to forget your stresses and problems? You want to feel a natural high from being more productive than you’ve ever been? Get into this Zone and stay in it for a good hour.

I guarantee you you’ll feel better than ever before.

You will never feel so accomplished, so productive, so motivated, so energized. It’s an incredible experience. It’s a drug and if you let it, it can be addicting, especially because you become so focused, you forget about your problems.


Forget alcohol, get into The Zone!

Of course, there is the actual, real benefit of getting into the Zone. You get more done, you get more done, you’re more likely to make money. You write more, more books and products, more money you’ll ultimately make, right?

Which…will lower your stress. Lowering your stress will make you more likely to be productive. Which helps bring about the Cycle of Focus. Positivity, less stress, and high emotions.


Getting Into The Zone – The 15 Minute Hump

There are three demons, though, who seek to drain our strength and prevent us from getting into this Zen State of being. These demons are so named Procrastination, Self-doubt and Self-distraction.

They will try to steal your focus, rob you of your happiness and prevent you from making any real, serious life changes. Fuck them.

Luckily for us, they are easily defeated because we have three secret powers that can defeat them. These powers are:

  • The 15 Minute Warm Up
  • Who Cares Attitude
  • The Ability to Say No

The 15 minute warm up defeats the demon of procrastination. It takes roughly 15 minutes (sometimes less, sometimes more) to get into The Zone of Focus. Knowing this, you can force yourself to sit down and write, (free write, as a warm up exercise) which enables you to get into the Zone.

Just remember – 15 Minutes. That’s all it takes and the lazy feeling of procrastination peels away. It’s a sucky feeling, I know. But once you recognize and tell yourself “in 15 minutes, I’m going to be riding high and getting stuff done!”, well…you tend to want to do it.

The demon of self-doubt is sometimes worse than the one of procrastination because he feeds into your fears. The fears that you aren’t good enough or that people will hate what you do.

He is easy enough to defeat, however. Just remember this: just because you have stuff written doesn’t mean you have to show anyone. If it’s garbage writing, that’s fine. You’ve practiced your writing and that’s all. No one needs to see it.

So who cares.

This demon will disappear with this attitude. You are writing for yourself and no one else. Don’t be afraid, because you are still in control.

Finally, the demon of self-distraction is the worst. He’s the one that will tell you…go check Facebook. Go check your phone. Open the door and let the kids in…stop what you’re doing and go do something else.

This is the hardest demon to control because he sometimes appears in outside distractions. But you have full control over him – you simply say “no”.

Sometimes you might have to set up systems to stop him. You might have to turn your phone off, close your door, turn the internet off (or download programs that block websites) and the like. But the great thing is…once you are 15 minutes into your writing, the demon slinks away and is defeated. Because in the Zone State, you those demons cannot possibly defeat you. You are too focused on here and now!


Maximizing the Zone

A couple of things I want to briefly touch on while talking about The Zone.

It’s called “focused” or “single-tasking” for a reason. You aren’t doing thirty things at once and that includes writing related things.

You know, things like stopping and editing your work. That’s for after you are finished writing. Or planning your work. Or thinking about what you want to say. (That’s for BEFORE you start writing.)

Yes, when you’re writing…you are writing and that’s it. No formatting, no editing, no planning, no thinking. Writing.

The same thing happens when you are planning. You plan what you’re going to write about…but you don’t write (much. Most of what you are doing is thinking). When you are editing…you read and edit. You don’t write (much).

You are grouping activities together and you don’t let these activities cross boundaries. Doing so breaks focus, gets you out of the zone and means you must take another 15 minutes to get back into it!

Remember that secret. Breaking focus, including to do related (but not the same) activities will require you to take another 15 minutes to get back into the Zone and that will slow you down.



Be Excited for The Zone

This should be getting you excited. I know, it might not seem like much. Single-tasking is well known and getting focused, in-zone work has been talked about before.

But, I think we don’t let ourselves get excited over things like this anymore. We neglect the magical experiences of the mundane and we forget to reconnect with what makes us human, the experience of life. When you’re in The Zone, you feel everything melt away.

Recognize that feeling and let yourself be excited by it. Because it means you actively know what’s going on, you can actively summon it at any time, and you know it means you’re going to get a lot more done than ever before.

Of course, by letting yourself get excited by The Zone, you’re more likely to want to achieve this Zen State of high productivity. Which, again, will make you feel great about yourself. It does wonders for the self-esteem.

Then you can look back at all you’ve accomplished and realize that you’ve built Rome.


That’s right. Congrats, 10 years older you…you’ve built Rome. Perhaps you’ve built a book empire or maybe you’ve done something else. I don’t know. But your productivity was kicked off by The Zone. Focused, single-tasked work.

Cherish it. Be excited by it. And welcome to the future you.

Thanks for reading, please comment below if you have any questions!

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Owner at Sneaky Fox Publishing
Rob has been self publishing books, videos, software and courses for over 8 years. His expertise includes sales, marketing, coding and music.
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1 Comment

  1. You read my mind…This past week I keep coming back to ‘single focus’. My mind, activities, thoughts, actions, etc. wander all about when I am trying to get something done. When I “stop-drop-and focus on ONE thing” I am amazed at what I can do.

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