In business or in sport, you might have heard the term ‘state of flow’ being used. It most commonly refers to the mental state required for an unusual level of performance, but it’s far deeper. In fact, learning how to create a work environment that fosters flow is incredibly important.
Everything you do originates with thought. And you’ve probably experienced days where your thoughts are sharp and focused – and days where they’re not. Understanding precisely what a state of flow is, and how to access it more easily, could change your life.
What is a State of Flow?
A state of flow is most commonly described as a state of fluid focus where you’re able to perform incredibly well. And for flow to be present, you’re doing it in ways that often look and feel effortless.
You might have childhood memories of a flow state. Remember when you were so engrossed in having fun that time just seemed to vanish? You weren’t focused on outcomes or goals. You were just focused on the process of play or discovery.
Even in adulthood, this might have happened to you too. A common example is when you commute somewhere along a familiar route. You suddenly arrive at your destination and literally wonder how you got there! So, although it requires skill and focus, it’s almost as if you’re detached from the process like a fascinated observer.
Accessing Higher Consciousness
We all know about the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. But there’s a proposed third state of mind: your superconscious mind. Einstein referred to accessing the superconscious as a “mystic emotion”.
In ‘Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience’, renowned psychology professor
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes flow as a transcendent state of being. When you experience flow, it really can feel like a mystical experience. The key, though, is not to try too hard! Flow is something that happens naturally. You can’t force it. You need to invite it.
How Do You Recognize a Flow State?
There are some characteristics that are common to people experiencing a flow state. Take a look at these and see if you’ve had these kinds of experiences at work or play, you’re:
- Finding yourself intensely enjoying what you’re doing (even if it’s complex or challenging)
- Having clear goals that are attainable but often difficult
- Focusing completely and utterly on the task at hand
- Feeling a strong sense of control over the process and the outcome
- Experiencing a feeling of strange tranquility and you’re less self-conscious than usual
- Getting moment-by-moment feedback on your progress
- Confident that you can do this and that you have the necessary skill to overcome the challenge
- Concentrating intensely
- Not getting tired, and might even feel like time has slowed down or stopped
5 Simple Ways to Achieve a State of Flow
Even if you’re new to this, you can quickly learn how to achieve a flow state. Here are 5 key elements you can incorporate to enable better flow:
1 . Start With Something You Love
You might think this is obvious, but it makes sense. By starting out with something you enjoy, you’re not carrying hidden blockages that can lead to self-doubt.
2 . Use a Personal Ritual as a Trigger
You can use pretty much anything for this. A quick mantra or self-affirmation, maybe. Or simply a particular piece of music. The key here is to develop a connection between the ritual and the feeling of ease and accomplishment the flow state brings you.
3 . Work on Something Significant to Achieve A State of Flow
Make a point of working on something important. Paradoxically, it’s easier to get into flow when you’re faced with a challenge or a significantly important task.
4 . Harness Your Peak Productive Times
Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, tweak your schedule so you can coincide flow state work with your biorhythms. It’s a bit like developing a gym routine. Your body (and mind) will start anticipating and amplifying your states of peak performance.
5 . Banish any Distractions
When you’re in a state of flow, the last thing you want is an interruption. Build a space around yourself so you can stay deeply focused. Also, don’t watch the clock or think about deadlines. Just immerse yourself and let go!
The Benefits of Harnessing a State of Flow
When you’re in a state of flow, you feel good – in fact, downright blissful at times. And adapting your mental state to a challenge is one of the key attributes of the 4 A’s of stress management. But beyond just being a peak experience, flow offers you a lot more:
Better Emotional Balance
When you’re experiencing a state of flow, you’re able to handle more complex emotions. It’s as though your thinking process becomes super-attuned to dealing with multiple emotions at once. This is not just an abstract concept. It’s a tool that helps you become calmer and more insightful all the time.
Accessing flow gives you a sense of pleasure and pride about your abilities. You’re actually engaging in self-actualization, the deeper awareness of self-worth and peak existence. And if you find that rewarding, just imagine how practicing a state of flow will benefit your employees.
You know what it feels like to do things because you ‘have to’. It’s no fun. But intrinsic motivation is what happens when you experience an inner desire for something. It means you can tackle even uninspiring tasks with a sense of inspiration. Your emotional reward is internal, not external.
Very simply, a state of flow enables you to perform better and produce more. The greatest advances in most every field of human endeavor happened because of a flow state.
You’ve probably seen this most dramatically in sports, where flow state athletes smash barriers seemingly without effort.
You can learn in a step-by-step fashion, and it works, but it’s slow. Sometimes, though, you learn new skills in a giant leap of intuitive understanding. You just ‘get it’ even if you can’t explain exactly how you got it! That’s what the state of flow will do for you.
Greater Creativity in a State of Flow
When you’re in a flow state, ideas tend to manifest spontaneously. You’ll be surprised how powerful and unexpected this can be. In fact, you might want to hire a creative virtual assistant to help you keep up.
Help Your Team Flow Better, Too
It’s a great idea to have someone help you coordinate your team and increase the efficiency of your business. By hiring a professional virtual assistant, you only pay for the hours you book, with no HR headaches or extra overheads.
Book a discovery call today, claim your free trial, and see how effectively a virtual assistant can free up your valuable time.