Productivity Hack – Flow State

Imagine for a moment you are flying an airplane. Nothing fancy, let us assume a Cassena 152 or 172. Since you have completed only 15 hours of flight, and not yet soloed, you have a flight trainer with you. You just took off from the runway and climbing steadily. Suddenly the door opens on your side!!! What will you do….? You will simply shut the door and continue to climb, watch engine rpm, throttle, and many other things taught to you and are part of flying an airplane. 

Let us assume you are flying a kite or riding a bike, truly enjoying the experience, and fully focused on it. Suddenly you hear a loud noise. You may barely turn your head and notice it. Why is that? Once an activity fully occupies your attention, is challenging and you have sufficient mastery in the task, you may get into a state of “Flow”. Once you are in this state, time flies, you are at your productive best, you may not get distracted easily and you come out of it with a sense of happiness and accomplishment.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly who is famous for his theory on flow defines flow as “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it”. He also concludes that happiness can be experienced when achieving flow in our lives. 

 “The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihaly.

Your productivity and quality of work improve immensely when you are in a Flow state. I find the below practices helpful to get into a Flow state,

  • Having a dedicated space: As most of us work from home we will have a workplace setup. You may observe whenever you are in this space, your mind may automatically wander into work-related thoughts. If you want to reflect on the past week, or practice a hobby, pick a different space. This will signal to your mind that this time and space is for the hobby and not your office work.
  • A ritual: The last couple of days, I am having a cup of green tea as I sit down to write these posts. Again, a signal to my mind.
  • Avoid distractions: The most obvious one. Put your phone on silent, close the door, inform the kids to avoid barging into the room. Whatever it takes to keep you focused.
  • Persist through the first 15 mins: It takes some time to immerse yourself in the activity. If you can sit through the first 15-20 mins you will most likely get into a Flow state.

Organizations understand that Flow state brings benefits to them and their employees with increased satisfaction, productivity, and happiness.

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