In the flow state, a person immerses himself fully into the work and at the same time becomes as efficient as possible. But how to get into a flow state on demand? Let’s figure it out.
Have you ever experienced a state of intense inspiration and passion for what you are doing? I am sure that your answer is positive. Literally, everyone has experienced this at least once in his life.
This is a state when you are completely immersed in creation and completely forget about everyday problems and fatigue. When you do not think about what is happening around you, you are absolutely passionate about what you do and capture a thrill from it. It is at such flow state of mind moments that unexpected ideas and new results arise.
This condition is called a flow state by modern positive psychology. Flow state helps us use our talents in the best possible way. And – what’s even better – it gives us a feeling of complete satisfaction with our work. As psychologist Hugo Alberts, the founder of Positivepsychology, always quotes – “A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour.”
The specialists at Welltory have written a brilliant article concerning issues like “What is a flow state of mind” – here– and flow state training moments, alas how to induce flow state and array of flow state activities. So should you have spare time, give it a thoughtful read – yet bear in mind that the article is long and comprehensive.
It would be very pertinent to quote the first modernist psychologist who began to study the state of Flow as “being fully involved in activities for his own sake“ – «To overcome the anxieties and depressions of contemporary life, individuals must become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments. To achieve such autonomy, a person has to learn to provide rewards to herself. She has to develop the ability to find enjoyment and purpose regardless of external circumstances.”
― MihalyCsikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Why is flow state so important?
Every day we devote at least half of our time and attention to work. Yet, even outside the office, we continue to swipe through work issues in our minds. Correspondingly, the way we feel about our work directly affects the quality of our life – and this is why it is essential to know how to reach a flow state in your activity.
Personal growth as a Perpetuum mobile
Being in a flow state promotes personal development. Since it always appears at the intersection of the complexity of the task and the level of our competencies, we develop new skills as we raise the bar. At such a moment, it is simple to enter the flow – and you don’t even need to have the grasp on how to achieve flow!
Considering that the flow usually begins where the task at hand creates a challenge and the need to either develop new skills or acquire new ones arises, we can assume that the need for personal growth is in-built into the nature of the flow state.
In a state of flow, our activity becomes valuable in itself, fills life with meaning, and brings great satisfaction. In addition, the ability to enter the flow state increases productivity and speeds up learning twice or even thrice! Just think – we become several times more productive in activities that simultaneously completely captivate us. It’s an incredible win-win situation.
Additionally, flow states are characterized by a sense of tremendous inner clarity of what you are doing and why. It helps you understand your goals, values, and intrinsic motivation.
How do you know the flow state?
Like every other condition, a flow state has its own characteristics. For example, when people describe their experiences, they often name some of the following:
- Total concentration and focus.
- Clear goals – you clearly understand what you want to get as a result.
- Complex task – the task you are going to overtake must be slightly above the average difficulty level.
- A perfect balance between the complexity of the task being performed and the existing skills to complete it.
- Fast feedback – you are immediately seeing the results of your work and can make corresponding adjustments. Feedback can be both external (for example, from other people) and internal.
- The feeling of time is lost, and the hours fly by in one breath.
- The consciousness is fully liberated from the worries and anxieties of everyday life.
- The feeling of complete control over what is happening in every detail.
What does it take to enter the flow?
Research has shown that you can learn to create your flow state in any activity.
Learn the concentration
For a flow state, it is crucial to learn to set goals and focus on them. Unfortunately, anxiety and an overload of tasks can prevent this.
To relieve all the stress and unnecessary fuss:
- clear your head of unnecessary information – write down on a piece of paper all the scraps of thoughts that haunt you;
- find something that relaxes you – a warm shower, tea with honey, or a walk;
- divide the task into a sequence of small and concrete steps – this will allow you to calm down and focus on them one by one.
To concentrate, try out such techniques:
- breathing exercises;
- specific flavor;
- specific memories, places, reflections.
What is important is to form a connection between using a particular technique and the state of concentration. Tricks should become a habit. Make them your rituals. Gradually, the brain will form stable neural connections and get used to reacting to these stimuli in a certain way.
Do what you really enjoy
In activities that are exciting and enjoyable, flow occurs naturally. Fill your activities with tasks that interest you. Do you enjoy your work? It is a clear sign that you are in the flow. All in all, look for joy and meaning in your usual tasks.
Raise Your Bar
You already know that flow is a balance between challenge and skill. Look at your activities. Where do you feel bored or relaxed? To develop mastery, it is necessary to raise the complexity of the tasks. Without this, we are sucked in by the routine in which the flow does not arise. To achieve a flow state, you need to increase the complexity of the tasks. Only in such conditions can you feel the need to do something differently: study new information, develop a new approach or come up with new ideas whatsoever.