Maximize Flow

Have you ever been so completely and happily absorbed in what you were doing that you forgot to stop for lunch and lost all track of time? When this happens, it’s a good indicator that you are “in the zone” and experiencing flow – the  sweet spot where you are totally focused on achieving a goal that is difficult and meaningful, and have the requisite level of skill for the task to be challenging and achievable. Research has found that people are often the most creative, productive, and happiest when they are in this state of flow. And flow happens more often on the job than in our free time. Structure your work to experience more flow.

When was the last time you experienced flow in your work? Was it when you were running a meeting? Making a presentation? Creating a new piece of work? Analyzing data? What would your day be like if you spent more of it in a flow state? Look for challenges that stretch you, excite you, and allow you to develop your skills. Set a clear goal for the task at hand, one that you can actually achieve.  How about blocking off some time to focus without distraction – putting your phone away, turning off social media notifications, or sequestering yourself in a conference room to work? Think about how you can maximize the conditions and engage in the activities which lead you to a state of flow.

For more information on flow, see Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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