Have you ever found yourself losing track of time while you were working on something and when you finish you realize that you accomplished twice as much as you normally would. If you have then you have been in a state of flow.
The state of flow is a rare event for most people but that is why I am going to teach you how you can make this happen more often.
For me I have found that working while I am distracted and being interrupted produces far less productive work than when I am in a state of flow. If I know I am going to be distracted then I don’t even bother working at that time because I know that 80% of my output comes from when I am in a state of flow (one example of how I use The Pareto Principal).
I am going to explain what State of Flow is, why it is so important, and how you can use it to get more done on a regular basis. After reading this you will be able to increase your productivity and you will also see your happiness levels rise as well.
What is Flow?
Flow is a state of mind that you achieve when you are fully focused on a task, forgetting about everything else in the rest of the world. It is a concept that was created by a Hungarian psychologist named Mihály Csíkszentmihályi.
When you are in a state of flow you aren’t bored with the work you are doing but you also aren’t stressed by the amount of work you have.
When you are in a state of flow you:
- are completely focused on the task at hand;
- lost track of time;
- forget about all other distractions;
- feel like you are in control;
- become extremely productive and creative.
Why is Flow Important?
The ability to focus on one task and stick with it for a long period of time is much better than any multitasking. While it may feel nice to check 10 things off your to-do list you are really procrastinating the most important tasks you really should be doing. Switching between tasks is a huge waste of time and while you may feel like you are getting more done you are actually doing the opposite.
When you are in a state of flow you have laser sharp focus that cuts through your most important tasks. I would rather get 1 important task done every day than 20 mildly important tasks. The best way to get the big tasks done is to be in a state of flow.
How to Enter a state of Flow:
- Try to choose work you enjoy – While this might not always be possible it will definitely make this process a lot easier if you actually enjoy what you are doing.
- Use the ABCDE method – This method is a way for you to organize your tasks from most important to least important. I wrote about this method in detail in this post: The 80/20 Rule (Pareto Principle). But basically you write down all of your tasks on a peace of paper and write a letter next to them depending on their importance. “A” is your most important tasks and “E” are tasks you can completely eliminate. If you have multiple tasks with a letter A you should add numbers to them as well like A1, A2, … A10.
- Start with your most important tasks – Start with A1 and work your way down the list. You will find you get much more done every day if you start with your most important tasks first. That is because you aren’t procrastinating with the less important tasks. If you get your largest tasks out of the way first you will feel a lot better as you go on with the rest of the day because you know you already did the hardest thing.
- Find a quiet place to work – This place should be different from where you spend your leisure time. This way your brain will get used to only doing work at this location. For some people this might not be possible but you should still do something to let your brain know it is time to work. For me I listen to music that doesn’t have any lyrics to let my brain know it is time to focus. While this may sound a little crazy “telling my brain things”, it is actually proven to help get your brain get ready to perform tasks and improves your performance. In one study college students in one class were told to turn on a specific lamp when they are studying and only use the lamp when studying. Students in another class weren’t told about this. The first class had much better grades than the second and reported that they learned the information faster than normal.
- Eliminate distractions – In addition to finding a quiet place to work, you are also going to need to eliminate your distractions. That means turning off distracting music (unless you find that helps you focus, for me I find listening to music without lyrics helps me a lot), turning off phones, email and notifications or anything else that might pop up and interrupt you.
- Focus for as long as you can – This probably won’t be very long the first few times you try but once you start to lose focus take a short break then try again. You will start to realize that you will be able to focus for longer and longer the more you practice this.
- Use your state of flow to get more done – If you use these tips you will soon be able to control when you enter a state of flow. Once you do that the only thing you need to do is find important things to work on and you will be able to accomplish more than you thought you ever could.
Hopefully this post will help you achieve a state of flow and help you get more meaningful work done. If you enjoyed this post please share it and subscribe to my newsletter.