Every once in a while it happens: we are so immersed in a task that we lose track of time. Hours fly by like seconds.
This experience is called a state of Flow, a concept first proposed by psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályian. “There’s this focus that [...] leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other,” he explains in his Ted Talk. With all your processing power immersed in a single, challenging task, productivity increases, senses heighten, and stress reduces.
Flow allows for an energized, focused, and engaged working experience where you can actually get things done faster— and anyone can achieve it, with some practice. Some key steps to achieve and benefit from Flow at work:
Set A Clear Goal
Pick a challenging work task you care about. The task itself can’t be too easy or difficult, and ideally should require you to flex a skill you are confident in. Think about the intrinsic factors motivating you as you engage in your task.
Try to find a quiet time and place to work, and clear away all distractions. That could mean setting aside your phone, turning off notifications, or even clearing your desk. Basically, remove anything that might tempt you to deter from your task or interrupt your thoughts. This makes sure that all your focus is on the task at hand, since switching between tasks reduces your productivity by 40%.
Focus on your Goal
The mind can process up to 120 bits of information per second. You can reach this full focus capacity by fully immersing yourself in your chosen task for as long as you can. Be fully engaged with your activity, not the outcome. This takes practice, and can be difficult at first, especially if you’re used to multitasking.
Studies show that working around other people while they’re in the flow increases your chances of finding your flow. Schedule a time for your team to get focused as a group, and watch what happens. Additionally, through communicating openly with your team, you are also able to receive immediate feedback on your tasks, which aligns our awareness and attention.
Each step will take some practice. Keep going! You should feel more connected to your work overall, and witness faster progress. Take a moment to appreciate these evolutions in the way you work, and continue to practice getting in the flow every day.