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Finding Flow: 5 Steps to Get in the Zone and Be More Productive

Self control to trigger a state of Flow

To get into a state of flow more often, we need to be able to increase our level of control over our consciousness:

  • Find standards to determine whether any action you’re going to take is desirable towards getting into a state of flow.
  • Self-control and flow depend on immediate feedback; find ways to constantly monitor your performance and adjust as you continue.
  • Be wary of your mental energy. Define your work schedule to account for the variations in mental strength throughout the day.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Finding Flow: 5 Steps to Get in the Zone and Be More Productive

Finding Flow: 5 Steps to Get in the Zone and Be More Productive

https://zapier.com/blog/how-to-find-flow/

zapier.com

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Key Ideas

The Flow State

Flow is the mental state where we are so immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity that we lose sense of space and time.

The moment you recognize being in flow, its blissful sensation begins to dissolve and the world, complete with its distractions, comes rushing back into our heads.

Requirements To Enter Flow

To enter flow, you need appropriated self-control, environmental conditions, skills, task and rewards. Besides that, you must know what you’re doing, be able to see whether or not you’re doing it well, and be pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.

The last point is especially important, it's mastery combined with challenge that brings flow. Too much challenge and we get overcome with anxiety. Not enough, and our brain loses focus and looks for other stimuli.

Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi

Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi

"In the flow-like state, we exercise control over the contents of our consciousness rather than allowing ourselves to be passively determined by external forces."

Self control to trigger a state of Flow

To get into a state of flow more often, we need to be able to increase our level of control over our consciousness:

  • Find standards to determine whether any action you’re going to take is desirable towards getting into a state of flow.
  • Self-control and flow depend on immediate feedback; find ways to constantly monitor your performance and adjust as you continue.
  • Be wary of your mental energy. Define your work schedule to account for the variations in mental strength throughout the day.

Find a novel and exciting space

Routine is good for productivity but doesn’t help you enter in the flow state. Instead, find an environment that challenges you on a daily basis and pushes you a bit outside of your comfort zone.

Ideally those are environments and activities where your actions have real consequences to you, challenge you out of your comfort zone and require more of your attention or you to react quickly to changes. 

Steven Kotler

Steven Kotler

"Steve Jobs artificially created the environmental conditions that massively upped the amount of novelty, unpredictability, and complexity in the environment because people across departments and disciplines started running into each other and having conversations. As a result, flow, innovation, and creativity went up.”

Practice deliberately to bring on more Flow

Flow is dependent on finding that sweet spot between your skills and the challenge at hand. Having some mastery and knowing how to use it is necessary to reach flow state.

You can achieve this by not just going through the motions of an activity, but having a specific, analyzable and measurable goal for every practice session and optimizing things to challenge and increase your mastery every new session.

Robert Greene

Robert Greene

"If a subject excites us, if it stirs our deepest curiosity, or if we have to learn because the stakes are high, we pay much more attention."

Connect to a clear purpose

Imbuing your task with a clear sense of purpose greatly facilitates flow. You can do that by creating a personal mission statement and tying your values and skills to how you can make a real change in the world.

Create your mission statement, find what are your passions, values and skills, as well as the value you create, who are you creating for and the expected outcome. 

Don’t look for extrinsic motivation

Having work and tasks that we feel real have meaning behind and enjoy doing for the sake of doing is ideal to achieve flow. Money. Awards. Praise. These can be byproducts of the flow work you do, but they cannot be the core motivation behind what you’re doing.

If you can find that kind of task, not only will you find yourself slipping into flow more often, but you’ll naturally shift towards doing work that is truly meaningful to you.

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Flow is the state of mind

... where we are so immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity that we lose sense of space and time.

It is thought to be t...

Why it’s hard to achieve flow in your workplace
  • The processes, policies, and busy work gets in the way.
  • Most jobs don’t have a clear goal.
  • Feedback can be inadequate.
  • The pace of work has increased, and it’s hard for people to spend time thinking deeply.
  • Your skills aren’t well matched to the challenges you are allowed to pursue.
  • There’s a lack of control over interruptions or when and how you work.
  • The job doesn’t push you out of your comfort zone.
Take more risks

... to push your mind beyond its comfort zone. Flow happens when we get a bit out of our comfort zone. Too much, and you get anxious; Too little and you get bored.

You need to know your physical or emotional limitations and consciously push past them.

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The Flow State

Is an optimal state of consciousness where we feel and perform our best. It happens when we are completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Your whol...

Factors that often accompany the flow state
  1. Having clear goals about what you want to achieve
  2. Concentration and focus
  3. Participating in an intrinsically rewarding activity
  4. Losing feelings of self-consciousness
  5. Losing track of time passing
  6. Being able to immediately judge your own progress; instant feedback on your performance
  7. Knowing that your skills align with the goals of the task
  8. Feeling control over the situation and the outcome
  9. Lack of awareness of physical needs
  10. Complete focus on the activity itself
Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi
Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi

 “Flow also happens when a person’s skills are fully involved in overcoming a challenge that is just about manageable, so it acts as a magnet for learning new skills and increasing challenges. If challenges are too low, one gets back to flow by increasing them. If challenges are too great, one can return to the flow state by learning new skills.”

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To enter the flow state
  • An activity must have a clear set of goals and progress.
  • A task must have clear and immediate feedback.
  • There must be a good bal...
Flow = focusing on the present moment

When you are experiencing flow, it seems like the task at hand is almost performing itself.

But there's still a sense of personal control over it, and working on it feels very rewarding.

Tasks that encourage flow

These are tasks that tend to have high consequences (e.g., rock climbing or public speaking), clear feedback, and take place in a varied environment.

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Lifestyle Gamification
Lifestyle Gamification

It is when you to turn a task into a game to motivate yourself to finish it.

It motivates the "player" to chase after rewards as he gets points and achieve new levels with new challen...

What Makes Games Addictive
  • Epic meaning and calling to finish a mission.
  • Development and accomplishment inspires us to finish the game.
  • Empowerment of creativity to bring imagination to life.
  • Ownership and possession of rewards.
  • Social influence and relatedness or envy.
  • Scarcity and impatience to have things we don't have.
  • Undpredictability and curiosity of what the next challenges are.
  • Loss coins and chances and avoidance of failure.
Be a Game Master
Attach rewards to your to do list. 
  • Reward yourself for fulfilling one or several tasks

Use surprise rewards.

  • Determine a reward by chance.

Engage in time-based challenges

Make a deal with your friend.

  • Challenge and motivate each other to finish a task

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How to trigger the flow state
  1. Flow follows focus, and taking physical or social risks drives focus into the now.
  2. Change your routine and increase novelty, unpredictability, and complexity
  3. F...
Research Findings On Flow
  • When a person is in a state of flow, all five potent neurochemicals massively amplify the immune system.
  • While on flow, stress-causing hormones are flushed out of body, and the autoimmune and nervous systems go haywire.
  • A Gallup poll found that most American workers are disengaged and spends less than 5% of their day in flow.
What Flow is

Flow is an optimal state of consciousness, when you feel and perform your best. It’s the moment of total absorption.

Time speeds up or slows down like a freeze-frame effect. Mental and physical ability go through the roof, and the brain takes in more information per second, processing it more deeply.

The subconscious writer

We sometimes have to get out of our own way.
Too much conscious thinking about anything will become a source of stress; it makes us anxious and over-cautious as the fear piles up.

Get into daily rituals

Use them to support your body, your emotions, and your intellect.
For this to happen, make sure you:

  • sleep well
  • eat nutritiously and intentionally
  • exercise
  • read and find intellectual stimulation
  • connect with others
  • do things that excite you and give life meaning
  • live your values.
Get into journaling

It helps you in the process of developing the right mindset of a writer.
Journaling makes you reflect on your life, imagine future possibilities, and you get to play with words because this is also a writing exercise.

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The Flow State

Flow is characterized by complete concentration in the activity at hand, resulting in a loss in one’s sense of space and time. It’s a state of both high challenge and high skill—a place where we’re...

The Six Parts of A Flow State
  1. Intense concentration on the task at hand.
  2. A merging of action and awareness - “being and doing become one”.
  3. A loss of reflective self-consciousness.
  4. A sense of personal control over the situation.
  5. A distortion of the perception of time.
  6. Autotelic experience: the activity itself is intrinsically rewarding, rather than the expected outcome.
What Flow Is Not
  • It’s not easyFlow is not just a state where we love the work so much it just pours out. Flow is a state where hard work meets joy and meaning. 
  • It’s not for beginners. The act of learning how to do something won’t always allow us to get into the flow. Getting into the zone in a specific discipline is something that needs to be learned and practiced.

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Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“I developed a theory of optimal experience based on the concept of flow—the state in which people are so involve..."

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Defining Flow

Being in a state of flow means being immersed in the activity you are doing that you forget abut the outside world.
And you are most likely to reach this state when your skills are well-matched with your goal’s challenge.

Achieving Flow
  • Set specific goals, that are aligned to your purpose, passions and values.
  • Focus all your attention to the task in front of you.
  • Enjoy the moment, and do not worry about the result
What Deep Work Is

A process of performing “professional activities…in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve ...

Shallow work

The non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted, tend not to create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.

Recognizing our limited willpower

...is the first element of deep work.

That means you won’t have the mental discipline to stay concentrated on a single task unless you prepare your mind and environment to it.

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Albert Einstein

"Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much an..."

Albert Einstein
Daniel Coyle
Daniel Coyle

"Our brains evolved to learn by doing things, not by hearing about them. This is one of the reasons that, for a lot of skills, it’s much better to spend about two thirds of your time testing yourself on it rather than absorbing it."

Telling Others About Your Pursuit

It can keep you accountable, but it can also lead to a false sense of completeness. One way to avoid sabotaging yourself is to state your goal as a commitment rather than progress towards the finished product.

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