Finding Flow in Your Work
You’ve probably heard of the phrase “in the zone” when referring to an athlete performing at an incredibly high level for a period of time (think Michael Jordan NBA finals). They appear to be locked into the moment and are playing almost outside of themselves. The technical term for being “in the zone” is often called being a state of “flow”, and is not something just athletes can achieve – you too can find Flow in your daily work to better help reach your goals.
What is Flow?
Flow, a concept proposed by psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, can be thought of as that state of mind where you are wholly immersed inside of a task – completely outside of the rest of the world.
Signs of being in a state of Flow:
- No concept of time;
- Feeling of creativity;
- State of happiness or bliss;
- Forget about everything except the task at hand;
How to find Flow in your work
1. Identify an important task
It’s hard to reach a state of Flow when you’re not excited about your task at hand. If you choose something that you’re excited about and has meaning then you’ll be more inclined to focus and achieve your task.
2. Find the right time
You know when your brain is primed to do great work. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, right after your cup of coffee, or late afternoon – only you know when you’re “feeling it”.
3. Remove distractions
The biggest culprit of distraction here is likely your cell phone. I like to put my phone on silent and put it in another room when it comes time to reach that state of flow and do meaningful work. Also, if you’re working on a computer, close out all of your other browser tabs except for the one with the task at hand.
4. Enjoy it
Michael Jordan would have never reached the state of Flow in his games if he didn’t actually love the game. If you can find a task that you truly enjoy, you’ll be amazed at your ability to focus for longer periods of time – and ultimately reaching Flow.
Multi-tasking is the antithesis of being in Flow. The brain must be focused on a single task at hand in order to reach this higher level of focus. Avoid the temptation to multi-task if you want to operate in Flow.
After you reach a state of Flow, you’ll certainly want to get back there again (and again, and again…). Everybody is different and only you can identify the element that led you to this amazing state. Once you’ve identified the attributes that got you there, you’ll find yourself jumping back in more efficiently.