People talk about “flow state” a lot, especially in regards to work, but it’s an elusive state of being that’s touted for its benefits, less so for being easy to achieve.
Flow is the experience of being so lost in a task that you lose track of time. You are completely immersed in the present, and the outside world melts away. It’s also the rare combination of happiness, creativity, and productivity that results in doing your best work.
In our world where the stream of news, information, and stimulation doesn’t stop unless we turn it off, flow state feels nearly impossible to achieve, which is why it’s reached unicorn status in creative circles. However, it’s an important state to enter, since it’s where you tend to accomplish the most meaningful, valuable things (i.e. completing a novel versus answering 20 emails). You give critical projects the gift of your full attention long enough to complete them, which creates more joy and movement in your life than simply surviving from day to day in a state of distraction from what really matters to you.
So how do you enter the flow? The recipe is deceptively simple:
A task that’s important to you + quiet space with no people + zero distractions (no computer, phone, distracting music) + working on ONLY that task without multi-tasking = FLOW STATE
I said “deceptively simple” for a reason…out of this list, which item is the most difficult for you to achieve?
-A task that’s important to you: The antidote is finding something you love.
-A quiet space with no people: The antidote is committing to finding this space and organizing your needs with the people you live with (i.e. alternating a regular playdate with another parent who would like quiet time).
-Zero distractions: Many people suffer from social media or technology addiction. If this is you, the antidote is using an app like Freedom to block temptation for the period of time you’re working. This will be incredibly uncomfortable at first, but the more you practice, the easier it will get.
-Single-tasking: The inability to focus on a single thing at once is the consequence of technology addiction. The antidote is the same as for distractions; technology-blocking apps can help. However, the long-term solution is practice – training your brain out of the need to switch tasks. Attention is no different from any other muscle in your body. If you build it, using it will become easier over time.
Which of these 4 flow blockers is your greatest challenge, and how will you give yourself the antidote today?