“Flow state is the mental state you enter when you are so focused on the task at hand that the rest of the world fades away”. In other words, you find yourself ‘in the zone’. It can be, for some of us, a rare, almost mythical discovery, the feeling of being in flow. It can be hard to describe or replicate, but when you are there it is an incredible feeling.
When we are in a flow state, or simply ‘in flow’, we are deeply engrossed in a single task, and seemingly nothing can distract you from it. It’s an incredible mix of feeling pushed, motivated and engaged to the max, coupled with an unparalleled feeling of enjoyment and satisfaction. Hours can pass by in what feels like minutes and the amount of work, or deep thinking, you can get done can be staggering. Productivity has been shown to skyrocket when we get into a flow state.
Often we can fall into this state, sometimes by accident. So, what are some of the characteristics of the tasks and things we can do to get ourselves into this state, more frequently?
- Remove distractions − This is such an important one for giving yourself the mental time and space to get into deep, single-task focused work. Shut the emails down, pop your phone on aeroplane mode, say ‘BRB’ to your MSN pals (if you are not a 90’s/00’s kid this will likely mean nothing to you). It’s also favourable if your work doesn’t require the internet, to shut the laptop down completely and go old school − pen and paper.
- Afford yourself the time − A state of flow can take a little while to get into. It’s not something you can necessarily squeeze 5 − 10 minutes of, in between meetings. And probably not something you want to do either. Instead block out some time in your calendar, ideally at least an hour, and a time where you know you’re mentally at your freshest. Then get into it.
- The work needs to be a tantalising mix of fun and pleasurable, mixed in with pushing your boundaries of capabilities. Research has shown it doesn’t need to be a big stretch of your current capabilities, merely 4% above where you’re currently at will do the trick. This can be hard to quantify, but regularly pushing yourself in both your work and private ventures, will ensure you’ll find the sweet spot eventually. Besides, getting out of our comfort zones is so key to growing as individuals.