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How many of us understand the phrase’s true meaning despite how frequently we’ve heard it? If you’ve ever experienced an unwavering focus on a subject, losing track of time and were wholly engrossed by it, you’ve definitely experienced the state of flow. Flow is also known as “being in the zone” or even more commonly, “transient hypofrontality.”
In this post, we will look more closely at the flow state, including its characteristics and advantages, as well as steps you may take to increase your chances of experiencing flow.
What is a flow state?
According to positive psychology, in a flow state, one is completely immersed in the experience of energized attention, full involvement, and delight in the action. Fundamentally, flow is characterized by total immersion in one’s work and a subsequent alteration in the sense of time.
The concept was named by psychologist Mihály Cskszentmihályi in 1975 and has been widely used in many professions (most notably occupational therapy); however, it has been claimed to have existed for thousands of years under several names.
How to Get Into a Flow State
First, it’s essential to realize that achieving a flow state is not always possible. Instead, the focus should be on providing the ideal conditions for flow. One can start by reflecting on times in the past when they were in a flow state and any things that may have contributed.
So, what steps can you take to improve your chances of experiencing flow? The following tactics will increase your chances of entering this hyperproducitve state.
#1 Clear Goals
To achieve a flow state, we must set aside the occasionally competing demands of a task and concentrate on the following action. Clear, well-defined objectives help people to comprehend what steps must be followed to complete the current task.
#2 Challenging Tasks
If we wish to enter a flow state, we should first set the stage for the states of mind. Flow, for example, cannot occur when we are doing things that are too easy or too hard. So we might think about the complexity of the things we’re doing, making sure they’re hard but not too demanding.
#3 Get Rid of Distractions
If distractions in your environment are fighting for your attention, the flow state will be more challenging to experience. Reduce your exposure to distractions to improve your ability to concentrate. Going somewhere private, disabling notifications on your devices, letting others know you’ll be busy, or blocking time on your calendar are ways to ensure you have uninterrupted time to work on something.
#4 Positive Emotion
The importance of positive emotion is critical to remember if you want to reach a flow state. Positive emotions may accompany or be a crucial prelude to flow. We know a flow state is pleasurable, yet many of the sensations that emerge from it can be obtained just by feeling good.
Steven Kotler demonstrates how to enter the flow state in this YouTube video.
Examples of Flow in Action
Flow can be triggered by almost any activity with clearly defined goals and a balance between the complexity of the challenge and the individual’s skills.
Example 1: Flow in the Workplace
In the workplace, flow has several advantages; it fosters inventive thinking and encourages creativity. It may seem unlikely that most workplaces have goals, provide rapid feedback, and ideally give employees the skills they need to execute a task.
Example 2: Flow in the Education
According to Csikszentmihalyi, overlearning a skill or notion might aid in the sensation of flow. The idea of gradually pushing oneself beyond one’s existing degree of competence is another crucial element in his approach. The individual experience may flow more smoothly if one’s current skills are slightly stretched.
Example 3: Flow in the Sport
Compared to many other situations, reports of flow state in sports are more widespread. This is because athletes typically feel more confident because of a sense of control and less self-conscious due to their immersion in the activity (Hanin, 2000).
Example 4: Flow in the Music
We’ve all probably felt wholly absorbed in a musical activity at some point; listening to or playing music is a hobby that many people find intrinsically enjoyable.
You can improve your chances of achieving a state of flow by having a clear objective, selecting a somewhat difficult task, working on a fun activity, and reducing outside distractions.