A Comprehensive Guide to Focus and Being in Flow State
Flow is one of life’s highly enjoyable states of being, wrapping us entirely in the present, and helping us be more creative, productive, and happy.
Flow state is a very powerful state of mind where you are extremely productive and also feel great. You don’t have to force yourself to work hard. Rather, it seems to go automatically. It seems as if you are ‘flowing’ through your work. Put simply, it’s a state of mind you achieve when you’re fully immersed in a task, forgetting about the outside world.
When you’re in the state of flow, you:
- are completely focused on the task at hand
- forget about yourself, about others, about the world around you
- lose track of time
- feel happy and in control
- become creative and productive
You may have experienced a flow state at some point — that sense of fluidity between your body and mind, where you are totally absorbed by and deeply focused on something, beyond the point of distraction. Time feels like it has slowed down. Your senses are heightened. You are at one with the task at hand, as action and awareness sync to create an effortless momentum. Some people describe this feeling as being “in the zone.” This is the flow state and it’s accessible to everyone, whether you’re engaged in physical activity, a creative pursuit, or even a simple day-to-day task.
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, positive psychologist, coined the term ‘flow state’ which describes a feeling where, under the right conditions, you become fully immersed in whatever you are doing.
“There’s this focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other; you get immediate feedback,” Csikszentmihalyi said in a 2004 TED Talk.
When you’re giving your fullest attention to an activity or task that you are incredibly passionate about, singularly focused on, and totally immersed in, you may find yourself creating the conditions necessary to experience a flow state of mind. The mind’s usual chatter begins to fade away, placing us in a non-distracted zone. The feelings that would consume you under normal circumstances (inhibition, hunger, fatigue, or aches and pains) melt away, and all that matters is your dedication to your craft.
According to Csikszentmihalyi, the human mind can process up to 120 bits of information per second. When we’re challenging ourselves with a task, our mind reaches full capacity. If the activity at hand happens to be something we enjoy and we’re good at, we achieve a flow mental state — and it can leave us feeling ecstatic, motivated and fulfilled.
There are many benefits of being focused and in flow state:
- A heavy sense of concentration
- Sense of clarityLack of obstacles
- Improvement in productivity
- Boost in Creativity
- Being fearless
- Eliminate anxiety
- Losing your inner critic
- Sharper brain functions
There are 8 core element of flow according to Mihály Csíkszentmihályi
- Clear goals
- Strong concentration and focused attention
- Loss of self-consciousness
- Distorted sense of time
- Immediate feedback
- The balance between skill and challenge
- Personal control over the situation
How to Achieve Flow State
- Do something you love that satisfies your mind’s craving for challenge and skill
- Create a ritual or series of actions that you do before you start an important task i.e. meditation, walking, lighting a candle, etc.
- Choose one important major tasks that require brainpower
- Identify your peak creative and productive time such as Friday morning or Tuesday night. Find your BPT (Biological Peak Time)
- Eliminate distractions such as phone or anything that sends you notifications, etc.
- Make sure it’s a challenge, but not too hard. A good challenge is a balance between figuring it out, but having confidence.
- Use time management techniques like promodoro
- Be proactive and keep practicing
- Reward yourself after flow times and appreciate the feelings
- Listen to the right kind of music if music boosts your productivity