You know those days where you sit down to work and everything just seems to go right?
You're motivated, focused, and you feel good about it. Obviously we don't have these days every single day, but what if I told you that there are ways you can make them happen?
That feeling you get when you're completely immersed within a project or task is something that psychologists referred to as flow.
This is an extremely powerful productivity tool and natural response that we can learn to channel into our daily lives.
Today, I'm going to talk to you about what flow is and what happens when you experience it.
What is flow?
Think back to a time when you felt completely dialed in.
What emotions are you feeling? What thoughts were you thinking?
The other day, I was working on my morning pages that I do every day. Normally, it's a practice that takes me about 30 minutes to complete. Sometimes I set a timer, but that day I decided just to write until I felt finished.
I ended up writing for nearly 2 hours.
Time felt like it was flying by and I was completely immersed and engaged in my writing. Creative thoughts and ideas were spilling out, and I felt completely in tune with my mind.
So, what is flow, and what does that example have to do with anything?
I wanted to give you a glimpse of what flow looks like for me, because it'll look different for everyone.
Flow is simple. It is the mental state where you are absorbed within what you are doing. Many psychologists believe that the flow experience is something that is encouraged by creative arts, such as writing or creating music as well.
What happens when you experience a flow state?
There are a number of things that happen when you experience of flow state.
Having a flow experience can increase your productivity, inspire you, improve your daily happiness, and even help you feel a greater amount of fulfillment in life.
One characteristic of flow is that it occurs during an intrinsically rewarding activity. Like I mentioned earlier, I fell into a flow state when I was writing. That is my form of creative expression, and so you can see how I would find fulfillment in it.
The key with learning to enter into a flow state is recognizing that the activity you are partaking in needs to be something you feel some sort of passion towards.
You might be asking yourself, if that's the case, how am I going to apply this to a job I don't like or schoolwork I don't want to do? Let’s chat about it.
How to enter into a flow state.
The first thing I want to mention is that you do not need to enter into a flow experience in order to achieve your goals or complete your work. It is simply something that can help you get there.
For example, I don't always feel like writing, but discipline reminds me to do it every day. On the days I don't wanna do it, I'm probably not going to enter a state of flow. But that's a topic for another time. Let's focus on how we can enter into a flow state when we truly want to.
Let's say you've had a great morning and now you're ready to sit down and start your work for the day. You know that you have a lot to do, and you immediately recognize that no matter what, you are capable of doing it.
After reminding yourself that you have what it takes, how do you feel? This is the first trick to getting yourself to enter a flow state.
Next, reassess what you need to do - look at what's on the agenda for today and how that fits in with your to do list. When you have a complete understanding of what you need to get done, it's much easier to visualize yourself actually completing it. This is the second trick to getting yourself to enter a flow state.
Like I said earlier, flow is simple. So you don't wanna over complicate it. The third and final trick to getting yourself to enter a flow state is to simply start working and release any expectation you may have.
While these tricks may help you work towards entering a flow state, the only true way to do it is by simply beginning and centering in on what you're doing. Eventually, you’ll enter a state of complete and utter focus.
It's also important to mention that I think there are different levels of being in a flow state. The same experience of flow you might have when running a mile might be completely different than the experience you have when you're working on a project you're passionate about. So, don't put any limiting beliefs on what this experience might look like for you.
This is truly how I'm able to apply it to my daily life, because I recognize it doesn’t have to look a certain way in order for it to still be beneficial to me.
This is just another tool that I use, so keep in mind that it’ll look different for everyone. I would encourage you though to sit down and truly evaluate what it will take for you to have a flow experience.
When you understand what you personally need in order to feel focused and productive, you increase your chances and actually accomplishing it.