Do you ever find yourself wishing you had more hours in the day? We all have the same 24 hours, as they say, but it feels like those hours just fly by. How do we slow time and get more out of it? It’s not about time-hacking, or over-caffeinating myself until I could lift a horse. Instead, it’s about something called flow.
Flow is a psychologically proven concept defined by Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, one of the co-founders of positive psychology.
We all have an individual rhythm and flow to how our energy will naturally fluctuate throughout the day. Since everyone is different, what works for one person to be productive and get tons done might not work for you. Instead, I want to talk about how to find those naturally occurring high energy periods so that you can utilize them to be more productive throughout your day.
Have you ever experience that feeling of being totally in the zone, where your work just flowed and you felt like you were able to get everything done in a small amount of time? That’s what flow is. And according to Dr. C., everyone experiences this state of flow at multiple times throughout the day.
The thing is… most people don’t realize they’re in a state of flow, and so they aren’t taking advantage of it. This is one of the reasons I don’t like the idea of a typical 9-5 work day. I’d rather plan my work around my times of flow, and if that time of flow occurs at 1 pm and not 9 am, I’m going to leverage it. You won’t always find me working at 9 am, but you WILL find me working at 1 pm, when my kids are away and I have the most ability to focus.
But how do YOU find flow?
The 8 characteristics of flow
When you understand what a state of flow looks and feels like, you can start to define when you’re in this state throughout the day. Again, everyone is going to be different, so it’s important that you learn your individual cycles.
Flow is defined as:
- Complete concentration on the task;
- Clarity of goals and reward in mind and immediate feedback;
- Transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down);
- The experience is intrinsically rewarding;
- Effortlessness and ease;
- There is a balance between challenge and skills;
- Actions and awareness are merged, losing self-conscious rumination;
- There is a feeling of control over the task.
How to cultivate flow
You want to cultivate more flow throughout your day. The more you practice flow, the more you will be in it — which will end up making you more productive overall. First things first, you can’t achieve flow if you’re constantly in a state of distraction. Your brain needs to focus and allow you to get in the zone, and that’s not going to happen if you have the T.V. blaring or you’re sitting with chatty friends at a coffee shop.
Step away from the distracting elements of modern life. And yes, I mean your phone!
Take it one step at a time, and focus on one task. Don’t think about all of the other tasks you have to do that day.
Don’t challenge yourself too hard at first. Take on tasks you know you can accomplish and focus on easily, and build up your flow state to be able to take on more and more difficult tasks.
Keep the flow going!
Now you know exactly how to find and cultivate a state of flow! Thank you Dr. C. for coming up with this way of working, and for showing us that just because other people work a certain way, doesn’t mean we have to.
In fact, if your flow is to work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays only… go do it! Remember that this is all about finding a way to work that brings you peace and balance in life.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by this process at all, I have a game plan that will help you design your week around your flow state. You can find it here.
In this solo episode, I talk about:
- What flow is, how to find it, and how to get more of it
- The 8 characteristics of a flow state
- How to cultivate more flow in your life
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- How to Adjust Your Productivity for the Summer
- The Difference Between Priorities & Productivity
- The Right Way to Drink Coffee for Productivity
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