It's a Sunday night. I'm typing away on my keyboard, slaving away. I'm caught in a trance, a dream like state where everything melts away and I'm only focused on one thing. The only thing. My assignment. 

That was due in about three hours.

My entire mind is focused, I somehow manage to do over half my assignment in that one sitting. At the end of it all, I was amazed, in awe of the amount of work I managed to do in such little time.

That assignment had been the bane of my existence when I first started working on it, a little over a week ago. I sat down every single day, from morning until night - trying to understand, to grok all the content.

Endless hours of scrolling through my lecture notes, the PowerPoint slides and countless tabs on my browser - all in the elusive search on how to start this assignment, how to just take that first step.

After that first step however, the second step comes closely after. Then the third step, then the fourth, and before you know it you're basically running through to the finish line.

That's what being in the zone feels like for me, a race, a marathon from start to finish.  Getting to that first step in a marathon is probably the hardest part. That first step was the result of all your training, all of your practice and all of the hard work you've done.

So to be in the zone, you need the preparation, that training and all the hard work. That first step in your assignment often means looking up concepts, Googling the formula, and fully understanding what you are being asked to do.

In reality, that assignment isn't at all about the work you're being told to produce. It's about how you produced that work - and the understanding that went into it.

How to get in the zone

Prepare, prepare, prepare. You need to actually understand what they are asking you. The stuff you really need to know. If you don't have a general clue as to what your assignment is talking about - then that's your first task. To actually fully understand every single word of what they are asking you to do.

Start. No really, just start.

That is literally the hardest part in my experience. Do the smallest, easiest part. The one that you can blast past. After that, the next steps come faster and faster. 

Before you know it, you've done half and you really wanna finish the other half. You have the compulsion, the need to be able to finish it. All the 'tips' we give you to study take a backseat, because when you're in the zone it all just goes over your head.

You're not checking Facebook every 30 seconds, or talking with your friends next to you. Your focus narrows, to that end goal. That final stretch until you're free. 

Get into that zone, you'll be amazed at how much you can achieve ;)

    - Mark
 

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