Picture this: You’re at work, sitting at your computer, and you’re in the zone, completely focused on the task at hand. The work feels effortless and you lose track of time. Nothing is distracting you, and you’re experiencing peak productivity, totally zeroed in and absorbed by the work you’re doing. You’re firing on all cylinders. Before you know it, the task is complete, and you’ve executed to the best of your ability. You’re proud of the work you’ve done. And rather than feeling drained by the work, you’re energized and ready for the next task the work day throws your way.
This scenario describes what is known as flow or flow state. Put simply, flow state is the experience of being completely immersed in the task you’re doing, causing you to lose sense of time, self-consciousness, and awareness of outside distractions. Flow is an energizing experience that tends to unlock this sense of effortless and all-encompassing attention to the current task.
If flow sounds awesome, it’s because it is. There are several benefits associated with achieving flow state including higher productivity, increased satisfaction and improved emotional regulation. So, you’re probably wondering, ‘how can I get into flow state?’ Well fortunately, it’s not that difficult. You just have to set the right conditions. Here’s a few steps that can help you find your flow:
1. Set clear goals.
Having identifiable goals in mind is helpful when trying to achieve flow. When you have a clear idea of exactly what you’re working on and why, it’s easier to achieve the right frame of mind for flow. Having clear goals will help you know if you’re successfully completing the task at hand.
2. Balance challenge and skill.
To achieve flow, you have to find the right balance between challenge and skill. This means that the activity you’re engaging in should be challenging enough for your skill level. If something is too challenging, it’s hard to get into flow because you’re worried about being able to get it done. On the other hand, if something is too easy, you’ll probably find yourself bored, which isn’t conducive to flow.
3. Eliminate distractions.
Once you’re in flow, your brain will naturally ignore distractions, but while you’re working up to flow, distractions can be a problem. Help yourself to get to flow sooner by reducing distractions as best you can. This means snoozing notifications, turning off your phone, and blocking time in your schedule for focused work. If you work in a noisy environment, consider getting noise-canceling headphones or listen to word-free music to drown out office chatter.
4. Avoid multitasking.
Hustle culture has been lying to you, telling you that multitasking is key to productivity. The truth is that your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. So when you’re “multitasking”, you’re really just shifting attention between tasks rapidly, which is really taxing on the brain and not conducive to flow. Focus on your tasks one at a time and work diligently to help foster flow.
5. Take care of yourself.
Flow is only achievable when you’re getting adequate nutrition, hydration and rest. If you’re not taking care of yourself health-wise, you’re not going to get into flow. Help foster flow by prioritizing wellness in and out of the office. Outside of work, create a self-care routine, and in the office, keep a bottle of water and a snack on hand.