Your Ultimate State of Flow Guide
Have you ever been so absorbed in your work that you lose track of time and all other distractions just drift away? If so, you may have experienced the state of flow. But what exactly is flow state?
Flow state is defined as a state of concentration so focused that it amounts to absolute absorption and inactivity. The concept was pioneered by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and has since been researched and widely recognized as a beneficial state to achieve in work or other activities.
Skiing down the face of a mountain gave me that feeling for the first time. It wasn't long before I could translate that into my work. There are times when my fingers fly across the keyboard.
The Benefits of Flow State
Hopefully, you've experienced this before and can relate, but even if not, let's go over a couple of benefits.
- Increases happiness and helps you escape your everyday routine
- Improves focus and concentration
- Ties you into intrinsic motivation and provides clarity on what you're doing
Flow State: Unraveling Physiological & Psychological Factors
- Clear Goals and Feedback on Your Work: So, let's talk about how we can improve processes and systems to increase efficiency and productivity. One way is by streamlining tasks and possibly automating repetitive tasks within your business. Investing in technology can also help. For instance, in my business, I use analytics to track the performance of my social media posts at the end of each week. I analyze which posts performed the best and try to understand what drove people to connect with them, whether it was a video or a text post. This helps me optimize my social media strategy and make better use of my time.
- Concentration: Flow state requires deep concentration, which can be achieved by silencing distractions. I've talked about this a ton. But let me give you a quick and simple example from my own experience. As I was putting together the outline for this video, I was also transcribing a presentation. I was in the zone, or you could say in "flow." But my phone kept buzzing in the other room, and it was starting to get to me. That's when I turned to the Calm app and cranked up their "Flow" music. And just like that, all the distractions were gone. The phone buzzing, the transcription, it all disappeared. So my advice to you is to create an environment that's conducive to focus. And the Calm app is just one of the tools I use to make that happen.
- Sense of Control: People in a flow state have a feeling of control and mastery over what they're doing. It is suggested that having at least 10 years of experience in a specific field is necessary to reach flow state (I feel like this is a bit much).
- Loss of Consciousness: In flow state, one's self-absorption is completely gone and one is completely absorbed in the task at hand. Data proves that getting into flow is easier the more time you spend in it. This is where flow can actually cause some problems, because it becomes addictive. We love it so much because it's like taking a drug and all of your worries go away, and then you want to reach that state again and again. I wouldn't be able to get any work done if I spent the entire day skiing. I couldn't help you.
- Intrinsic motivation: As parents, I believe we have a unique advantage when it comes to tapping into intrinsic motivation. We often do things for our children out of love and care, and this creates a strong drive to see things through. So, when it comes to any task you take on, try to find that inner connection and motivation. Discover what it is that fuels your passion and use it to drive your efforts forward. By doing so, you can harness the power of intrinsic motivation and make your work more meaningful and fulfilling.
- Increased hormones: Norepinephrine and adrenaline boost focus and decrease pain perception. So here's a funny story, so when I ski, I keep thinking about the story, and that's where I felt flow. There is a medical condition called Renaud's disease that I suffer from. My hands and feet are always cold because I have circulation issues. However, I am often in temperatures well below freezing. This is helped by heated gloves and boots. But when I reach flow state It's unbelievable that I can withstand these freezing cold temperatures.
- Decreased cortisol: Lower stress hormones result in a more relaxed state.
- Elevated heart rate: A faster heartbeat can help us stay focused and alert.
- Increased oxygen: More oxygen to the brain enhances focus.
- Changes in default mode network: The "boss" of our brain goes quiet, allowing us to be fully present.
Flow and Skill
A crucial aspect of entering flow state is the balance between challenge and skill. Optimal experiences occur when we actively strive towards a specific goal or objective. As creative and entrepreneurial individuals, we often place ourselves in demanding situations, exploring new and unfamiliar territory. However, it's essential to have a certain level of proficiency in that area to reach flow. If you're struggling to enter flow on a particular project, take a moment to evaluate the skills that are lacking and invest time in developing them. With increased mastery, you will be able to tap into flow state more frequently within your work and business.
How to achieve flow state
- Set clear and challenging goals: Identify achievable goals that push you to stretch your limits, but don't set the bar too high or too low.
- Establish a daily check-in routine: Create a habit of regularly reviewing and reassessing your goals to stay on track.
- Focus on the present moment: Eliminate distractions and create an environment that is conducive to focus and concentration.
- Find the right level of challenge: Surround yourself with others who can offer feedback and accountability, and choose activities that challenge you but are still within your reach.
- Visualize success: Imagine yourself successfully completing a task before you start, to get into the flow state.
- Practice mindfulness: Meditate, breathe deeply, or engage in other mindfulness exercises to calm your mind and improve focus.
- Get into a rhythm: Identify a routine or pattern in your day that helps you get into a flow state, whether it's a morning ritual, an evening routine, or a pre-activity ritual.
- Surround yourself with supportive people: Seek out colleagues, friends, or family members who offer constructive feedback and support your growth.
- Reward yourself: Celebrate your wins and reward yourself for getting into the flow state, to reinforce positive behavior and increase the likelihood of it happening again.
- Explore additional tips and tricks: Check out my blog post on "How to Keep Focus like a Yogi" for more ideas and inspiration.
We've covered everything about the flow state, both the mental and physical aspects of it. I've shared with you my tips and tricks on how to get into a flow state more often, and now it's your turn to give them a try. Let me know your results, what worked for you, or even what didn't work. I'm always here to help and I can't wait to hear how you've been able to improve your flow game.
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