What is that illusive flow state?
That incredible feeling when you’re so in the zone with what you’re doing that everything else just melts away. You may lose track of time, or feel that time has actually slowed down. There aren’t any distractions because you can’t be distracted. Any noise you had in your mind is now replaced with clarity.
And you’ve somehow unlocked effortless attention.
What a truly energising experience.
The term ‘Flow’ state was first coined by psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Jeanne Nakamura in 1975, and describes a feeling where, provided with the right conditions, you become completely immersed in what you’re doing.
Interestingly, the flow state generally occurs during periods of challenging and engaging activity, rather than when you’re feeling relaxed.
Being in flow feels good
Additionally to feeling good, there are many benefits to the flow state.
You will feel:
- increased engagement to your work/task
- increased focus and clarity
- more creative and open to doing things differently/trying new approaches
- confident your task is achievable
- feeling aware of and in control of your emotions
The thing is, we can’t fake the flow state. (Bummer!)
We can’t force it to happen. (Grrr!)
But we can try to encourage it by creating the ideal conditions. (Hooray!)
Trying to encourage flow state
We know from the research that Csikszentmihalyi and Nakamura conducted that there are certain factors that contribute to a flow state. These include:
- clarity of goals & immediate feedback
- loss of reflective self consciousness
- balance between skills and challenge
- sense of personal control and agency over task
- time distortion or altered sense of time
- experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding
- feeling confident you can succeed
But, what does this all mean?!
It can be quite difficult to get into a flow state!
We need to fulfil most of the above factors in order to get flowing.
Some things you can do to encourage getting into flow include:
- Do what your heart desires. Do what you LOVE 😍 . This is the easiest way to get into a flow state. But alas often easier said than done. You may not love all components of your job, but there will be bits that you do. Let's focus on the good bits.
- Focus on your most important tasks. Don’t multitask. Trying to multi task will hinder your chances of getting into a flow state as you will most likely get distracted! Use tools like Llama Life to help you focus on one task at a time.
- No distractions. You know what distracts you - switch off your phone, avoid social media etc
- Identify your peak productive times. I don’t know about you but I am rubbish in the morning! Get up at 5am to be productive? Doesn’t work for me. Being a bit of a night owl, sometimes my mind is at it’s clearest later in the afternoon. Understand when your mind is functioning at full speed and try to align it with today’s main task.
- Be aware when you’re in flow! When you start feeling that adrenaline pumping, increased clarity of thought, and your creativity peaking - be aware of it. And know that the activity you’re doing has resulted in these feel good vibes. And do it again!
I reflect on the times when I've been in a flow state
It happened most naturally and without any planning. It’s as if I accidentally discovered something new that I was good at, really enjoyed, felt it was a challenge but one I could achieve.
Afterwards I would try to do more of it to encourage the flow state. At times, this has worked really well. Other times, not so much.
When did you last feel in the zone? And how have you tried to get back there? A tool that may help you focus on priorities, one at a time is Llama Life. Give it a go and let us know how you go.
Good luck getting into flow!