How to Reach Flow State

“Flow is more than an optimal state of consciousness—one where we feel our best and perform our best.” Steven Kotler

Posted by TWW Team on August 24, 2021

“To put it another way: flow is the telephone booth where Clark Kent changes clothes, the place from where Superman emerges.” Steven Kotler

It's sure that there were times when you were so completely immersed in what you were doing that nothing else seemed to matter.

In his brilliant book, Flow: The psychology of optimal experience psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes 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.” To Csikszentmihalyi, flow is an experience of “optimal experience.”

Reports have suggested that flow can make you as much as five times more productive.

Four Stages of Flow

  1. Struggle This is when you’re digging deep to access whatever it is that you need to reach the flow state. Warning: This often feels like a struggle and, in fact, the opposite of flow.

  2. Relaxation This is the break you take before fully diving into flow. It is an essential step, as it keeps you from burning out over the struggle you’ve just been through. This break helps you relax and is decided differently from a distraction such as moving on to another task or checking sport scores.

  3. Flow This is the state that Kotler describes as “the superman experience.” This is the flow state that you’ve hopefully experienced at various points of your life, where you’re doing your absolute best work and it almost seems to be happening automatically.

  4. Consolidation In this final stage you pull together everything you accomplished during the flow stage. Often, this is accomplished by feeling somewhat let down. All kinds of positive chemicals have been running through your brain while you’re in flow, and now that high is ending. But another cycle can be waiting just around the corner.

Finding Flow

  1. Eliminate Distraction If you’re going to find yourself in a flow state, eliminating distraction is absolutely essential. It can take you up to 20 minutes to reconnect with what you’re doing after you’ve been distracted from doing it. So, put everything else aside and concentrate completely on what you’re doing.

  2. Give Yourself Enough Time Make sure you have a block of time set aside to enter flow. It’s commonly believed that, when conditions are right, it takes about 15 minutes to achieve a flow state and that you don’t really hit your peak closer to 45 minutes. Plan to set aside at least 90 minutes, and ideally full two hours.

  3. Have Clear Goals One of the most efficient flow preventers is a lack of clarity. Once you have carved out the time, give yourself a clear purpose for how you are going to use that time. If you set yourself on a mission at the outset, and it is something that you're excited about achieving, you’re likely to find yourself deeply immersed in that mission.

  4. Challenge Yourself… A Little People are most likely to achieve flow when they’re doing something that is a bit challenging. If you do something that is too simple to you, you’re probably going to become bored quickly, and boredom and flow is incompatible.

    sample-imageOn the other hand, if you do something that you find extremely difficult, you’re likely to become frustrated and keep yourself from entering flow. But if you do something that you love that also has a moderate level of challenge, it’s likely to keep the task exciting for you and therefore engage you deeply.

Clear your schedule of everything else and get into the flow!

Credits: Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life by Jim Kwik

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