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

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.

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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

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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.
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... 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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