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Why you're not finding Flow at work (and what to do about it)

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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Why you're not finding Flow at work (and what to do about it)

Why you're not finding Flow at work (and what to do about it)

https://blog.rescuetime.com/finding-flow-at-work/

blog.rescuetime.com

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Key Ideas

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 triggered by a clear set of goals and having your skills pushed just beyond their breaking point while receiving and reacting to continuous feedback. Through Flow, we can work more and be happier, feel more accomplished, and get better at our jobs. 

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.

Steven Kotler - Rise of the Superman

Steven Kotler - Rise of the Superman

“In Silicon Valley, the idea is to fail fast or fail forward. If you’re not giving employees space to fail, you’re not giving them space to risk. Move fast and break things. Engage in rapid experimentation. High consequences will drive Flow and you get further faster.”

Practice deliberately

Flow depends on having at least enough mastery over your skills to understand when things are going well and be able to adjust on the fly when they’re not. But repeating the same task gets monotonous and make us more prone to small errors, leaving us unable to push and develop our skills and find Flow in the process.

To counter that, take an activity you do regularly, break it down into segments and go through each segment systematically, always looking for ways to get better.

Use job crafting

... to connect your work to a clear purpose or intention. The main reason we can’t find Flow at work is because our goals aren’t clear. Job crafting consists of looking at your job at multiple levels—task, relationships, identity—and adjusting each one to find more purpose.

For example, you could adjust your daily tasks to include more challenging ones. Deepen your relationships with people inside or outside your department. Or change your job title to be more aligned with what you see as your most important work.

Block flow-killing distractions

Flow depends on being able to do focused work for long periods of time without interruption. You need to be able to exercise control over your focus and attention, rather than let them be passively determined by external forces.

To do that you need to train your focus. Be aware of where your mind is going, bring it back to the task you want to focus on, and try to limit your vulnerability to distraction. 

Learn new skills and get feedback

To find Flow you need to actively push and search for opportunities for growth and challenge.

Actively seek out feedback on the work you’re doing and track your time spent on challenging tasks to make sure you’re putting in the kind of difficult work that triggers states of Flow.

Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi

Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi

"The best moments occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile … in the long run optimal experiences add up to a sense of mastery—or perhaps better, a sense of participation in determining the content of life—that comes as close to what is usually meant by happiness as anything else we can conceivably imagine."

Leo Babauta - Zen Habits

Leo Babauta - Zen Habits

“This takes practice. You need to start on your chosen task and keep your focus on it for as long as you can. At first, many people will have difficulty, if they’re used to constantly switching between tasks. But keep trying, and keep bringing your focus back to your task. You’ll get better. And if you can keep your focus on that task, with no distractions, and if your task has been chosen well (something you love, something important, and something challenging), you should lose yourself in Flow.”

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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...

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."

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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.

To-Do Lists

Your to-do list can be a tool that guides you through your work, or it can be a big fat pillar of undone time bombs taunting you and your unproductive inadequacy.

If the instructions are c...

The two modes
At any point during the workday, you are in one of these modes:
  • When a project or task comes up, the steps you need to take start to form in your mind. Now you're in thinking/Boss mode. 
  • Your to-do list is a collection of those orders, which your Assistant personality will later pick up and do.
Write down the instructions in such a way that your Assistant self can just do them without having to think - or stress. 
Put Items That You're Definitely Doing

Instead of letting tasks you're not quite committed to loiter on your to-do list until you're sick of looking at them, move them off to a separate list, a holding area for Someday/Maybe items. 

Only concrete actions you're committed to completing should live on your to-do list.

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