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