FLOW: THE KEY TO ACHIEVE EFFICIENCY AT WORK
FLOW: THE KEY TO ACHIEVE EFFICIENCY AT WORK
Working to a level where one loses the track of time, food and everything else in between. Well, entering that most productive side of the brain where one can focus and enjoy every minute of what they are doing while contributing to something that may add value to other people is called the state of flow.
While you, me and everyone else is in need to achieve a state of flow while working, it might not be as it easy to achieve as the process that may lead to being in the state of flow is requires certain thing in order to ensure that they achieve that mental state where a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.
The concept of flow was named by the visionary Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in 1975 and has been recognised and claimed to exist in thousands of years under other names including the eastern though systems of Buddism and Daoism as it shares various characteristics with hyperfocus.
According to the scientist, at any moment, humans can focus on only limited information of what they receive. They can manage what they can or cannot focus on except a few bodily feelings like hunger and pain. However, when one achieves a flow state they can only focus on one task at hand without making a conscious decision to do so, lose awareness of all other things: time, people, distractions, and even basic bodily needs.
HOW TO ACHIEVE THE FLOW?
Now, the flow can be achieved when a task is done with full dedication and various activities can induce flow states more easily than others, to truly achieve flow requires deliberate intention and effort. While the three conditions of flow involve active participation, immediate feedback and a good balance between the skills and challenges, the third condition is needed to ensure one has confidence in performing the task at hand.
Anything which is either too easy or too difficult for a person to perform can lead one to feel relaxed and anxiety respectively. This is exactly what one does not look for when they are trying to achieve the state of flow. Now, what one can do?
First, having the ability to control the consciousness is required to “concentrate attention on the task at hand and momentarily forget everything else”, with the ultimate goal of leading a more meaningful life not only doing great at work.
There are various challenges one might experience and here is how they can overcome them to achieve flow.
- Make Sure They Aren’t Hungry:
While the state of flow can allow one to focus only on the work at hand and not on anything else, it does not mean that one should starve but to have a good scan of what the body needs and making sure they are satisfied to avoid the distraction at work.
Hunger is a key challenge and may kill the flow. If one is working towards achieving flow, they should not be focused on hunger but does not meanwhile work they are snacking or consuming stuff they should not. The act of consuming the high sugar junk foods and energy drinks that will offer one with the short term energy is going to lead one to crash hard, yanking them right out of the flow state.
Now, the high-quality fuel one feeds their body with can lead to flow as it will release glucose slowly into their bloodstream. Options like nuts, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and lean meats are great while the options like processed snacks with lots of added sugar/sweeteners should be avoided.
2. Cut Out Distractions:
Achieving freedom from the distractions can lead one to focus on what they can never actually achieve flow if they are distracted as the human brain cannot just handle it. They are in a place where
Certainly, there are circumstances in which distractions are unavoidable. But much of the time, you can work to minimize or eliminate distractions. Here are our favourite tactics for doing so:
- Wear headphones
- Put your phone in aeroplane mode (or, better yet, in your closet/drawer/in another room)
- Create a study space
- Close your door (if you have one)
- Schedule blocks of uninterrupted time on your calendar
- Use the Pomodoro technique (see the next section)
3. Use the Pomodoro Technique
We’re big fans of the Pomodoro technique here at College Info Geek. When you just can’t focus or are procrastinating on a big project, it makes an enormous difference. The Pomodoro technique is setting a timer for 25 minutes (or any reasonable length of time) and working only on one task for that time. No checking your phone, browsing Twitter, or mentally going through DDR steps. Once the timer is up, you’re free to take a short break (usually 5 minutes).
So how does this relate to flow? You can’t just enter a flow state at will. It’s something you need to ease your brain into. The Pomodoro technique makes this possible by helping you jump the biggest mental barrier: getting started. Because once you’re immersed in a task, you may find yourself working well past when the timer goes off.
4. Don’t Multitask
Multitasking sounds like a great idea in theory. Doing multiple things at once is more efficient, right?
Well, it would be, except that our brains don’t function that way. We can’t perform multiple conscious tasks at once without what’s called the cognitive switching penalty. Essentially, every time you switch from one task to another, it takes your brain time to get back into the previous task you were doing.
Since the flow is so dependent on pursuing a single task with laser focus, multitasking is its enemy and opposite.
5. Get Enough High-Quality Sleep
Sleep is a game-changer for your health and general well-being. But it’s also key to reaching flow states. If you’re tired, your ability to concentrate will decrease, and smaller distractions will more easily pull you away from the flow. Just think of how alert and ready to conquer the world you feel when you’ve got a solid amount of sleep.
By the same token, it’s important that you get not just a sufficient quantity of sleep, but also that your sleep is high quality. Spending nine hours in bed is no good if you spend most of it tossing and turning. Read how to get better sleep.