The concept of flow is hardly a new one, but finding flow and knowing how to stay there might seem like a daunting task. Flow is being described as the state of total immersion in the task at hand – being in the zone. It is a mind state where you can focus without distraction, where time and space and body falls away and you are simply and happily working on the task at hand.
Follow these tips to find your flow:
What are you passionate about?
This might seem like a simple question, but many people struggle with this. See, we instantly know what we DON’T like to do – and that is a good starting point. But to know what you LOVE to do, you have to ask yourself: what really makes you jump out of bed in the morning? What are the things that you are passionate about? What are your strengths? Finding your true self is the first step on the path to flow. The Passion Test is a wonderful tool to help you narrow down the possibilities – click here to do the free test.
Hone your skills
Once you know what you truly love to do, start working at it and build up your skills and experience. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell claims that in order to reach success, 10,000 hours of deliberate practice is necessary. While this theory has been debunked, the principle still rings true: practice makes perfect. And if you love what you do, it won’t feel like work anyway.
Get the perfect balance
According to positive psychologist Dr Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, one of the foremost researchers of Flow and best-selling author of Finding Flow, flow is “finding the perfect balance between challenge and skill on one axis and anxiety versus boredom on the other.”
If the task at hand is not challenging enough, you are bored and not in flow. If the task is so challenging that it possibly exceeds your skill set and causes you anxiety, you are not in flow either. Finding that golden balance then is key.
Watch the full TED talk here.
Multitasking is the enemy of a concentrated flow-state and something that we tend to do all too easily. Finish the one task at hand, immerse yourself in it without distraction, and you will be able to achieve flow much more easily than if you try to do 5 things at the same time. Fewer interruptions allow you to focus on what you’re doing, so switch off your phone and email while you’re completing a task – you will find that it increases productivity and reduces mistakes.
Now that I’ve got it, how do I keep it?
Dr Csikszentmihalyi claims that one of the biggest influencer on the happiness of people is whether they are in flow or not. Here are his 7 key components of a flow state. When you can attribute these to the task at hand, you have achieved flow!
- Completely involved in what you are doing – focused, concentrated
- A sense of ecstasy – of being outside everyday reality
- Great inner clarity – knowing what needs to be done and how well we are doing
- Knowing that the activity is doable – that our skills are adequate to the task
- A sense of serenity – no worries about oneself, and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego.
- Timelessness – thoroughly focused on the present, hours seem to pass by in minutes
- Intrinsic motivation – whatever produces flow becomes its own reward
For more information on finding flow and how to achieve it in the workplace, click here!