8 tips for getting in the flow wherever you are
There’s nothing more satisfying than getting into flow state and getting sh*t done. Whether you’re working, creating, playing, or grooving, flow state is bound to enhance your experience. I do my best work when I achieve flow state with my writing.
The trouble comes when you just can’t seem to get in the zone. Perhaps you’re distracted, bored, anxious, overwhelmed, or any number of negative emotions…and it feels like your typical flow is out of reach.
In times like these, the smartest thing to do is try out some strategies for how to induce flow state. It’s not as elusive as you might think.
What is flow state?
Flow state is a powerful state of mind when you’re so concentrated on something that your notion of time fades away. After spending a period of time in flow state, you’ll probably feel like only a few minutes passed…and you’ll have accomplished something worthwhile.
There are six main indicators of flow state:
- Intense concentration
- Merging of action and awareness
- Loss of self-reflection
- Sense of personal control
- Distortion of time
- Focus on the activity rather than the outcome
In order to reach flow state, you need to find a task that’s challenging (but not too challenging) and that you have the skills to tackle. If you find your mind wandering often during a task, it probably means that task is too simple for your skill set. Pay attention to whether you notice your mind wandering often at work. If so, you might need to find a job that better utilizes your unique skills.
On the other hand, if you are under qualified for an extremely challenging task, you’re unlikely to get into flow state. That’s because you will probably feel worried and anxious about your capacity to accomplish the task.
If you look back on the work you achieved while in a flow state, you might notice that having a slight challenge improved your output. This is useful information for determining which job allows you to fulfill your potential.
Flow wherever you go
There are all kinds of different situations where you can achieve a flow state. While it may feel slightly different in each of these scenarios, flow state tends to make activities more enjoyable and productive.
Whether you’re playing music alone or in a group (or just in the audience listening), you may have experienced the feeling of being completely absorbed in the music and losing track of time. Musicians with the most daily practice hours and the least performance anxiety tend to have the highest flow.
If you’ve ever become wholly committed to a sport, I’m guessing you’ve experienced flow state at some point. Runners, rock climbers, basketball players, skiers, and other athletes often describe a loss of self-awareness that results from being totally lost in their sport.
People have long thought that flow state mainly applies to creatives, and you can see why. Artists, writers, and designers are known for getting absorbed in their work for hours and then producing something magnificent.
While this may not be the most glamorous type of flow state, it often results in a huge productivity boost. People who achieve flow state at work tend to be more creative and innovative in the way they approach tasks.
Negative flow state
Unfortunately, flow state works for negative activities as well as positive activities. It’s possible to become totally engrossed in Netflix, YouTube, video games, or “doomscrolling”…and you’ll waste hours without even realizing it!
Of course, none of these activities are inherently bad, as long as they’re done in moderation. How do you keep from entering flow state when you’re doing something that could easily turn into a timesuck?
The best way to get yourself out of flow state when you don’t want to be there is to set some sort of timer that will bring you back to reality. Whether it’s a limit on how many episodes you watch on Netflix, an app that stops you from spending more than 30 minutes on Instagram, or an old-fashioned alarm clock that signifies a need to get back to work, find something that allows you to partake in an activity you enjoy without letting it take over your entire day.
8 steps to induce flow state
Before you focus on reaching flow state, consider your health. Are you getting enough mental, social, spiritual, and physical rest? If you’re lacking rest in any of these areas, you probably won’t be able to get into the zone.
Once you’re well-rested and ready to induce flow state, here are the steps you should follow.
1. Select a task
It’s important to choose a task that meets these three criteria: challenging, suited to your skillset, and enjoyable. You’re probably not going to get into flow state while you’re responding to emails or preparing invoices. Once you find an ideal task, you’re ready to get started.
2. Find the right space
You’re looking for a place that’s quiet and tucked away. Not everyone has the luxury of a home office, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a chaotic environment. If you work at a busy office, try to have your desk in a space where you don’t have many people walking by. Use noise-cancelling headphones if necessary.
3. Eliminate distractions
You probably won’t get very far if you have your phone out on your desk. Every time you receive a notification, you’ll be snapped out of your flow. Pay attention to internal distractions as well. If you struggle with racing thoughts, consider adopting a meditation practice to keep your mind from wandering.
4. Remember past successes
Once you sit down with your chosen task, spend a minute reflecting on past successes. Think about how you felt after you accomplished something significant. This will remind you to be confident in the face of challenges. You can do it!
5. Make a clear goal
There’s nothing more detrimental to flow state than not knowing the end goal. You need to have a specific objective in order to move towards it. Don’t dive into your chosen task until you’ve set a feasible goal for yourself. Examples of goals: write 3,000 words, brainstorm product ideas for 30 minutes, finish coding one webpage.
6. Turn on some music
Sometimes it can be helpful to have calm music playing in the background, especially if your environment tends to get noisy. Most people focus better when they listen to music without lyrics. If you listen to music often while you work, it can become a flow state trigger that automatically tells your mind it’s time to get in the flow.
7. Get your Hapbee on
Your productivity can improve at the touch of a button when you set your Hapbee device to Focus or Alert. Lots of our users say they love using Hapbee to reach flow state. Maureen says, “I rely on the Calm and Focus signals throughout my workday, as I am pulled in many directions and can’t afford to get off track.” Hapbee could become a crucial part of your path to flow state.
8. Enjoy the flow
Once you’ve completed all of these steps, you’re ready to enjoy the flow. And don’t forget to enjoy it. Part of the beauty of flow state is that it’s just fun. Now get out there and create!