Think about it, how would it be if you can make yourself entirely focused on just one task for longest period of time, yeah it feels like a superpower.
This state of being entirely focused on one specific task is called ‘flow state’.
Being in flow state doesn’t even feel painful, in fact you enjoy working and feel relaxed. No need to work hard because everything is just flowing.
All of us have/will experience this state at least once in our life. But sometimes in past we might be unaware while we were flowing. And due to this we assume this smooth state was just a coincidence.
Truth is, being in flow state isn’t a coincidence, you can do the work with same flow again using few simple tricks. That we’ll discuss in this article.
What is benefit of being in flow state?
Achieving flow improves our overall productivity, which results in saving us most of our valuable time that without flow, we could have wasted on distractions.
Flow state has number of benefits;
- Boost intrinsic motivation
- Reduces stress
- Saves time
- Get work done
- Boost extrinsic motivation
- Improves creativity
Avoid this before inducing flow state
Remove all internal and external distractions
This seems like common sense, in order to get to your best working state you should not get distracted by anything. So it’s better to deal with such distraction before you get into flow state.
Deal with your thoughts and get control over them through daily journaling and practising meditation.
1. Keep your phone out of reach or on focus mode
2. Use only 1-2 tabs if working on browser or use any focus extension
3. Have a clean environment.
Fear of Failing – It’s okay to make few mistakes initially
Can you imagine starting your work with visualising it would fail? Yes, it would kill your intrinsic motivation. That’s one of the key obstacles to entering into flow state. The reason for failing thoughts is perfectionism.
If you go into a task with the belief that you absolutely must perform this task perfectly and that failure will be devastating, you’re going to be so focused on not failing that you’ll never get into a state where you can truly excel and give your 100%.
If you allow perfectionism aka fear of failing, entering into flow state will be very difficult.
So adopt this belief, you can’t be perfect initially, it’s okay to make a few mistakes and learn. Don’t think you can fail, think you will succeed.
Stress – Don’t overthink
If you have lots of external stressors in your life—deadlines, relationship issues, family problems, etc.—they’re likely to jump into moment you sit for work. I am sure you’ve had experience of thinking about something entirely different than task you were working on.
In order to enter into flow state, deal with thoughts before you get into flow. Remind yourself these thoughts will be just same ever after 4 hours.
Make your space unaffectable by outside stressors so you can focus totally on the task. You can listen to some lofi music.
Lack of Conviction
Upgraded part of fear of failing. Sounds ironic.
“If you don’t believe you’re going to accomplish anything of importance, you’ll guarantee that will be the outcome. If you go into a task doubting your ability to complete it, ask yourself these questions: Do I have the necessary skills to do this? Do I have all the information I need to do this? Do I have enough passion for this project to do this? If the answer to any of these is no, set the task aside until you can answer each of these questions in the affirmative. But if the answer to all three of these questions is yes, take this supervillain down and get into the flow,” writes Jim Kwik in his book Limitless.
These are key things you have to keep in mind before entering into flow state, these practices will help you to enter flow state more easily in future as well.
6 Steps to Enter Into Flow State
Work when you feel most energetic
All of us find ourselves more energetic at some specific quarter of day. That quarter is called BPT (Biological Peak Time).
If you try to get into flow state when you are tired and energy drained, it’ll feel like an uphill battle where getting distracted will be much easier and you will have less willpower to stay with your tasks for long enough to get into a state of flow.
Give Yourself Enough Time
Make sure you have a block of time set aside to get into flow. It’s commonly believed that, when conditions are right, it takes about 15 minutes to achieve a flow state and that you don’t really hit your peak for closer to 45 minutes. Therefore, only half an hour or so isn’t going to allow you to accomplish much. Make sure you set aside 90 minutes and two hours would be best.
Have a clear outcome
Of course, you can’t get into flow state without having a clear vision of what result you want. I would recommend you to write down or stick tasks (visible to you all the time) that you want to achieve in these two hours.
When we see tasks or work we see in front of us it boosts our excitement about achieving it and makes us deeply immersed into it (flow state).
Having a clear goal also prevents our monkey mind from wandering and allows us to stay more focused.
Make it Challenging
Book Flow: Psychology of optimal experience, explains it more briefly with a very popular chart.
If a task is too easy, you’ll be bored quickly and your mind is likely to wander, so you won’t reach flow state. However, if a task is too hard you’ll likely get overwhelmed and you won’t be able to achieve that subconscious level that is necessary for the flow state.
Flow state can only be achieved when an activity is challenging enough to keep your brain interested, while at the same time you’re skilled enough to tackle the challenge without it being too difficult.
Look at your caffeine consumption
Caffeine is an incredible source of energy. When we feel dull and unenergetic, after having coffee or tea we can notice our energy boost.
In between flow state, consume caffeine only when your energy is very low and you feel sleepy. Do not over consume it, this too would make you feel sleepy.
Drink a cup of coffee right before you enter flow state, and don’t drink more than two cups a day. And do not drink 5 hours before you sleep.
Permanent Flow State
Adopting a permanent flow state is not impossible, it has been achieved in past by great minds. Entering into permanent flow state requires immense control of mind and body. That can be achieved by deep meditation practices.
Definitely, flow state is believable superpower that all of us can get. Getting into flow state is not deligate process it can only be mastered with practice. I would encourage you to practice it as often as you can.