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

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.

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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

10

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.”

SIMILAR ARTICLES & 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...

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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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-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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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.

Breaks keep us from getting bored

The human brain just wasn’t built for the extended focus we ask of it these days.

The fix for this unfocused condition is simple—all we need is a brief interruption (aka a break) to ge...

Breaks and brain connections

Our brains have two modes:

  • focused mode, which we use when we’re doing things like learning something new, writing or working) and 
  • diffuse mode, which is our more relaxed, daydreamy mode when we’re not thinking so hard.

The mind solves its stickiest problems while daydreaming—something you may have experienced while driving or taking a shower.

Breaks help us reevaluate our goals

When you work on a task continuously, it’s easy to lose focus and get lost in the weeds. In contrast, following a brief intermission, picking up where you left off forces you to take a few seconds to think globally about what you’re ultimately trying to achieve. 

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Happiness

Happiness and satisfaction are subjective concepts – while for some of us monetary benefits can be equated with job satisfaction, some might strive for recognition of their hard-work and los...

Workplace Happiness defined

In a fundamental sense, workplace happiness comes when:

  • We enjoy doing the tasks assigned to us
  • We feel right about the people we are working with
  • We are happy with the financial benefits we get from the job
  • We have the scope of improving our existing skills
  • We feel respected and acknowledged at work
Importance Of Happiness At Work

Happy employees are compulsory for a growing business.

A study on organizational success revealed that employees who feel happy in the workplace are 65% more energetic than employees who don’t. They are two times more productive and are more likely to sustain their jobs over a long period of time.

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Mindfulness at work
Mindfulness at work

Means being consciously present in what you’re doing, while you’re doing it, as well as managing your mental and emotional state. 

If you’re writing a report, mindfulness requires...

1 min/session

That’s the minimum required for a mini-mediation.

Just focus on your sense. You don’t need to close your eyes. You don’t even need to be sitting down.

Use Mindful Reminders

You can use interruptions as hooks to make you more mindful.

Every time your phone rings, take a mindful breath. Every time you hear the ping of a text message, pause to be mindful of your surroundings rather than immediately reacting by checking the message. 

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Negativity bias and feedback
Receiving criticism will always have a greater impact than receiving praise.

And we remember criticism strongly but inaccurately. But although criticism is more lik...

Criteria for effective feedback
  • The feedback provider is credible in the eyes of the feedback recipient;
  • The feedback provider is trusted by the feedback recipient;
  • The feedback is conveyed with good intentions;
  • The timing and circumstances of giving the feedback are appropriate;
  • The feedback is given in an interactive manner;
  • The feedback message is clear;
  • The feedback is helpful to recipient.
Meaning in Life
  • Many of us struggle with finding meaning, as we are busy with our daily work and distractions.
  • Meaning in life provides us with the purpose of getting up daily, energized and pepped up...
Meaningful Work

21–35% of our life is spent at work, making it a crucial part of our lives to spend at something we find meaning in.

Meaningful work should be:

  • Motivating and purposeful.
  • Should be coherent and make some sense.
  • Should be significant.
Connected with a Purpose

Meaningful work is when we feel a genuine connection with what we do for a living and our larger spectrum of life.

It is motivating, creates deep relationships and helps others.

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