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.

Diagram shows flow state as being high in skill and challenge level, the opposite of apathy.

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.

Block Distractions

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.

Animated GIF

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.

Quiz

How can you reduce the amount of task switching you do?

Block a period of time for a single task

Try to work a few extra hours

Only multitask in the morning

Prioritize the most important thing

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.

Patrick meditating

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

And Do The Things You Know Are Good For You!

Generally, taking care of ourselves can help set us up for getting into a state of flow successfully. Remember the basics like:

Take Action

Ready?

Elsa singing Let it flow!

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This Byte has been authored by

SZ

Sam Zimmer

Rumie Director of Learning