The Northern Irishman, still hurting after scrapping his planned wedding to Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, posted a one-under-par 71 in the BMW PGA Championship second round to finish in a challenging position on five-under 139.
"Once you get inside the ropes you're concentrating on your golf and it's almost like four or five hours of a release to get everything out of your head apart from doing the job at hand," McIlroy told reporters at the European Tour's flagship event.
"It's nice. It's the hours in the day when you're away from it that are probably a little more difficult - you can't let your mind wander at all when you're trying to win a golf tournament."
McIlroy did not make the best of starts, mixing two bogeys and a double bogey with a solitary birdie in the opening seven holes.
The world number 10, though, eagled the par-five 12th for the second successive day before rebounding from a dropped stroke at the 13th with a dynamic sequence of three birdies in the last four holes.
"Even the way the conditions were, three-over after seven wasn't great but it wasn't disastrous," said McIlroy.
"I knew I had some chances coming on the back nine. It's sort of been a characteristic of my game for the last few weeks and I knew that I would be okay."
Wentworth has never been a happy hunting ground for the former world number one. He has missed the cut in three out of six starts in the tournament and has a best finish of tied fifth in 2009.
"Five-under-par going into the weekend, when the conditions are pretty tricky, is a good effort," said McIlroy.
"I stood here yesterday saying I would be happy to make the cut and I'm in for the weekend which is nice. Hopefully I can make a run at it.
"I feel like I'm playing well enough to shoot something in the mid-60s, maybe not tomorrow as the weather doesn't look too good, but I'm playing well enough to get myself in the mix going into Sunday," added McIlroy.
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