At our full focus we can achieve so much. However, we rarely reach our full potential.
Understand the flow and design your tasks so you spend most of your time working at your best.
Working in the flow can explode your productivity and save you a ton of time. You’ll also feel better in the flow and after it.
4 powerful steps to reach the flow
1. Understand the flow
Flow is a mental state in which one feels completely absorbed, or “lost” to what they are doing. It can be described as being so involved with the present moment that there isn’t any awareness of time passage; this idea has been explored by psychologists who refer it as “flow.”
Positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi describes flow as a state of complete immersion in an activity. Being immersed can be defined as a state of focus in which a person is completely absorbed and engrossed in their work.
During this state, your full attention is on the task, which results into achieving great level of focus. It is commonly accepted that the flow state is the active most productive state you can reach.
2. How to reach the flow
What kind of task favor the flow?
The answer is in this graph:
In one sentence: the flow occurs when the balance between your ability and the difficulty of the task are proportionate. If the task is too easy for your skills, you’ll get bored. If the task is too demanding for your skill, you’ll collapse. We will see later how to cultivate the flow for those tasks.
How to achieve the flow?
To achieve flow, start by narrowing your attention on the task at hand and shutting out all distractions. Have a look at this article to clean your workspace and reach deep working. You may also want to try focusing on one specific aspect of the task at hand, avoiding multitasking at all costs. Multitasking is efficient only if most of the actions are managed by your subconscious.
As you focus more and more deeply, you’ll begin to enter a state of flow.
3. Reaching the flow on boring or overwhelming tasks
Reaching the flow on boring tasks
If a task is boring, it’s likely because it is too repetitive and too little challenging. One thing you can do is to make it trickier, by for example, trying to do it faster or trying to do it with less resources, or mixing it with another parallel task. The goal is stimulate to your brain enough, so he goes all in on the task and triggers the flow. Example: You have to classify a lot of folders. This task is super boring because low demanding. To enter the flow, you can put your favorite hardcore music, put a timer, and try to do it as fast as possible. This will drastically favor your flow.
Reaching the flow on overwhelming tasks
Overwhelming tasks can lead to high stress, severe anxiety, panic attacks and so on. But they can also be an incredible opportunity of massive learning and growth. To reach the flow on those kinds of tasks, try to decompose it and master each part of the task perfectly. It’s like playing a full song by learning it piece by piece. If the task is too hard for you, try to learn new materials or to ask advice to people that master it, so you have a chance to implement and conquer. Finally, if after a while you can’t master the task, there is likely something wrong that prevents you to do so. In that case, it’s better to give up, as being overwhelmed can be catastrophic for your health.