On Being “Wired In” & Respecting “The Zone”
“He’s Wired In”
If you ever visit the Skyhook office and poke your head into the coding room you’ll probably see three programmers with telltale white headphones plugged into their ears. They’ll likely have a focused look that makes them seem oblivious to the world around them. In fact, they might not even know that you’re looking at them. If that is the case, then they are wired in. This state of mind can be seen in the following clip from the movie The Social Network (required viewing for Skyhook employees):
Being wired in is a state of intense focus and involvement during any type of activity or work. There’s even a Wikipedia article about it. I know that for myself there are times when being wired in can make me feel twice as productive than when I’m not. And it’s not just for programmers. Everyone can find that level of productivity no matter what they’re working on. There are many other terms synonymous with wired in including in the moment, head in the game, or in the zone.
In The Zone
The Zone is a sacred place for us at Skyhook. We try hard to respect others when they are in the zone. Interrupting them could derail their progress towards a breakthrough. Or it could simply make them waste time finding their spot in what they were working on before the interruption. Of course that is if they haven’t already left the zone and can’t get back in right away.
When I’m wired in, I’m usually coding a part of a website and checking tasks off my checklists at breakneck speeds. And I usually have my headphones turned up loud to drown everything else out. How do you get in the zone?
There’s a lot of research on this topic, done by positive psychologists. They call it “Flow”, and associate it with any task that gives you a single focus, especially if doing the task makes you feel happy or joyful.
Great wikipedia article on it here. Csikszentmihalyi is the incredible last name of the guy who coined the term.
I just had an interviewer last week ask me what things generally caused me to “flow.” Since I am not really a fluid, I was a little confused, so I asked him “is that like being ‘wired-in?'” I guess it pretty much is. “Wired-in” or “in the zone” sound better than “flow” to me, though. Either way, I’m going to conjure up that state between the hours of 11:00PM and 6:00AM as I work on my last paper for this semester.