When's the last time you were working on something and lost track of time?
You were focused. The task was challenging but you had energy and drive to tackle it. You felt good.
This is being in the zone or in a state of flow. And it's where our best work happens!
So how can we get into a state of flow more regularly?
Hint: waking up at 5am or going on the Keto diet is not necessary.
It takes at least 10-15 minutes to get into a state of flow, so every buzz of your cellphone, DM, or family member asking you a question can reset that clock.
Be intentional about minimizing distractions for set periods of time, for example by:
putting your phone on airplaine mode ✈️
setting notifications to do not disturb 😴
using a timer function to put the part of your brain that's worried about the 'next thing' you need to do at ease ⌛
Focus On A Specific Task
Every time we switch task, our brains burn time and energy adjusting.
This is both because of the time it takes to get into a flow, but also the need to reassess where you were, what needs to be done, and how to do it when you return to a task.
Frequent task switching is also correlated with making more mistakes.
How can you reduce the amount of task switching you do?
But Keep Your Eye On The Process, Not The Outcome
Keeping your eye on a specific task will allow you to really dig into a task, but putting too much emphasis on the result will add unhelpful pressure.
If you are enjoying and engaged in the process, it likely means you are present, which is key to flow.
Even though it might sound backwards, focusing mindfully on the process and not just the result can actually lead to a better outcome.
Work When It Works For You
What if you find that you aren't present? That you're bashing your head against a wall or can't help but switch back and forth between the 20 things on your to-do list?
It might mean it's time to take a break.
Breaking news: most of us don't operate at peak productivity from 9 to 5. In fact, most of us are only productive for about 3 hours a day.
If you have the flexibility to:
Build your schedule around when you feel most productive
Make a routine but be flexible when things aren't flowing