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Comfort Zone Level For Productivity

Science can help us find the right comfort zone for productivity

Stress levels and productivity

Growth and productivity only happen when you step outside your comfort zone.

Humans very much follow the same patterns.

A body in motion likes to stay in motion, and a body that’s still, will want to stay still. If you’re feeling like you’re stuck in a rut, particularly as a result of the patterns you made in the pandemic, then you might need to consider stepping out of your comfort zone?

comfort zone level for productivity

What is inertia?

The law of inertia states that it is the tendency of an object to resist change in motion. Sir Isaac Newton proposed his First Law of Motion, the law of inertia, in 1687: objects will continue in their current state, whether at rest or in motion, unless acted on by a greater outside force.

The human brain is powerful. It allows us to build robots, explore physics and overcome unimaginable fears. Yet it also craves comfort. The brain is  a creature of habit. It creates neural pathways that it refers back to whenever it needs to make a decision. These pathways become the drivers of our thoughts and behaviours. That’s why it seems like we get stuck in a rut sometimes.

What is the comfort zone?

The Oxford Dictionary describes comfort zone as ‘a situation where one feels safe or at ease’. It fulfils our need for certainty which, as Tony Robbins often describes, is one of the most powerful of the 6 core human needs. When we are in our comfort zone, we are prepared for the moment, we know what’s going to happen and what to expect. We feel like we are in control. As soon as we leave our comfort zone, uncertainty becomes more powerful than control and our brain doesn’t automatically know how to react which causes fear and stress. Despite these feelings however, it is only when we overcome them, leave our comfort zone, and learn from the experience, that we grow as humans.

Why should you leave your comfort zone?

It seems like a much easier option to stay inside your comfort zone and not experience any anxiety about the alternative options. However, as much as certainty is a human need, so is uncertainty, and the balance is a paradox that must be addressed. Too much uncertainty can also cause lack of productivity due to extreme levels of cortisol. Too much certainty leads to a lack of motivation.

Some of you may have heard of the Yerkes-Dodson law (Inverted-U model) which looks into the relationship between stress and task performance. It proposes that you reach your peak level of performance with an intermediate level of stress or arousal. Too much or too little will result in poor performance.

The Yerkes-Dodson Law

yerkes-dodson law

So how do you step out of your comfort zone for peak performance?

1. Find your baseline

Pay attention to how your body is currently reacting to your lifestyle. Are you experiencing low levels of emotion and boredom or are you constantly feeling like your heart is popping out of your chest? We need to determine our own unique  risk tolerance, as every one of us is different. Referring back to the 6 core human needs, find which driving force relates more closely to you. Those with certainty higher up the list, will need to force themselves to leave their comfort zones more than those that thrive off change.

2. Observe your feelings

Those who find it easy to leave their comfort zones, will understand their own emotions and boundaries. It’s not about supressing your emotions in order to accomplish fearful tasks, but rather, acknowledging the fear and asking yourself what your body is really trying to tell you. Fear is a completely normal reaction to change and acknowledging this will help you to overcome the sensation.

3. Ease yourself in

As you now know, too much cortisol will have a reverse effect on your productivity, so don’t go outside your comfort zone with all guns blazing. You might have something on your mind which feels so far away from overcoming, but by starting small, you can build up the courage for the bigger achievements. Ask someone out who you’ve been scared to talk to, take a completely new route to work or perform a small presentation to your team. By starting small and building new habits into your daily routine, stepping out of your comfort zone will start to feel normal, and more opportunistic as opposed to a feeling of dread.

4. Develop a growth mindset

Growth is one of the most essential human needs, and is the reason why it is essential for us to step outside our comfort zones. If you’re not growing and learning, then why are you here? Having a growth mindset is having the belief that you constantly have new things to learn and do, new people to meet and new opportunities to arrive at. It’s owning up to the fact that you don’t know everything, in fact quite the opposite. The most successful people are those who are always willing to learn from others and new experiences.

5. Assess your support circle

You may have heard the saying by Jim Rohn that ‘you become like the top 5 people you spend the most time with. Choose carefully’. This couldn’t be truer, especially for this topic but for all aspects of life too. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Those who want to learn, grow, push themselves. Those who support your every decision and encourage new challenges. Think about who inspires you and who doesn’t and be sure to bear this in mind when you’re planning social events or offering your time.

6. Accept failure

Fear of failure is the most common reason for not doing something. But without failing, you won’t achieve excellence, because you won’t have experiences to learn from. Remember from our blog last week, what we have learnt from Albert Einstein himself? That “failure is success in progress”. The most successful people don’t give up because of their failures. They pick themselves back up straight away and keep trying. In every failure there’s a new door opening, but you must step out of your comfort zone to get there.

As Michael Hutchence wrote into one of his songs ‘we all have wings but some of us don’t know why’

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