The Flow State: What Is It, And How Can You Get There?
You may have experienced a flow state at some point in your life–where you are completely and utterly immersed in a task beyond the point of distraction. You are focused only on your progress.
Everything else melts away. You're one with the task at hand, and before you know it, the time has passed you by.
Did you really just blow past lunch and dinner?
While you might have thought that a flow state only ever occurs when the stars align, the truth is, there are a few things you can do daily to increase your chances of achieving flow. Thus–bringing your productivity levels through the roof. This article explores how.
What is the flow state?
According to positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a flow state describes a feeling where, under the right conditions, you become fully immersed in whatever you are doing. If you’ve ever felt like you were ‘in the zone’ while doing something, where your work simply, well, flowed out of you without much effort, you were likely in the flow state.
Interestingly, the experience of flow is universal. It has been found to occur across all classes, genders, ages, and cultures. And can also be experienced during many types of activities.
How to get to your flow state
There's no need to wait for inspiration to strike. It is entirely possible for you to hack 'the zone' and proactively get into it. Here's how:
- Pick a single task to work on at any one time – Contrary to popular belief, multitasking doesn't make you more productive. Instead, it simply increases the chances of you switching between different tasks too quickly, resulting in a few of them actually getting done. That's why achieving a flow state is best accomplished while focusing on one major task that requires a significant portion of your brainpower. So, prioritize the most important item on your to-do list. Be very clear about what you’re working on.
- Eliminate external distractions – Research indicates that you need to eliminate external distractions to reach the flow state. It's only when you're able to focus on the task at hand with undivided attention for at least 10 to 15 minutes that you're able to get into the zone. So, as much as possible, put your phone away. Close the million and one irrelevant tabs open on Google Chrome. You know best the types of things that break your focus. If you truly want to boost your productivity, try minimizing as many of them as possible.
- Eliminate internal distractions – You may be in a quiet place, and the only active app running on your computer is Microsoft Word. But the cursor is still blinking at you on an entirely blank page–while your mind is running in all sorts of different directions. If you relate to this situation, you might want to try journaling and/or daily meditation. Both will help you declutter your mind, limit mind wandering, and control your thoughts a lot better.
Still, having difficulties getting into the flow state? The ‘The Daily Routine Journal’ might be the answer. Not only can you get a clear overview of your to-do list, but it also encourages mindfulness–both of which help achieve a flow state. Read what others are saying about the journal here!