Flow is the state in which we are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. The state of flow is perfect for doing focused work. In this blog I will give you tips on how to get into a state of flow and do some great work!
We experience the bliss of the state of flow from time to time. You remember reading that fascinating book and completely losing track of time? By the time you were finished night had fallen and you were sitting in the dark. Or when you were working on that fun project with your colleague and you totally forgot to have dinner? Your growling tummy was reminding you to eat.
We all have those moments when we were completely immersed in what we were doing. When we lose ourselves in an activity we enjoy.
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly calls this state ‘flow’. He describes this as the pleasure, delight, creativity, and process when we are completely immersed in life. In his book: ‘The Psychology of Optimal Experience’, flow is “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”
Flow is perfect for doing focused work. So, how do we achieve that precious state?
Love your work
Flow can only be achieved if you do something you actually enjoy. Sounds a bit too simple doesn’t it? But the important part to realize here is that we can learn (or maybe ‘discover’ is a better word) to enjoy almost any kind of work. All work has interesting elements in it. Yours too! I remember reading about an elevator operator in a Japanese mall who has been operating the elevator for over 20 years. Obviously very repetitive work but he has learned to enjoy it almost like a ritual. Pleasing the customers and himself. So, if you don’t do it already: start loving your work!
Start a habit
In a way getting into a state of flow is much like getting ready for meditation and starting to meditate. Just like in meditation we must make time, get into a distraction free zone and just start. Preferably every day at the same time. Start a habit! The more often we do this, the easier it gets.
Japanese writer Haruki Murakami wrote in his memoir ‘‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” that to generate great results, focus needs to be complemented with endurance (success = talent + focus + endurance). To get into that state of flow we must also endure. Don’t let the distractions pull you back but keep on working. Hang on in there and find the flow!
Working in a state of flow can get very intense at times. It may seem like it is not costing you much energy but it can really wear you out. When we do something we enjoy we often forget recharge our batteries. That is why we must always remember to take short time outs. Maybe once every hour for five minutes. Just set a timer and walk around for a bit. Then get back to your work.