Oh that feeling, laser focused, things grooving right along, projects poppin', you're in the zone; you in the flow. That is until you're not and everything feelings like gears grinding and there's not enough fairtrade organic coffee in the world to make up for it.
Routine is the killer of flow state, automatic pilot will get you only just so far. Flow state is a consciousness, it's about creating optimal conditions for yourself.
Flow state is being studied by psychologists and neuroscientists around the globe and the one thing they agree on is that getting into the flow is about letting go of stress.
This can be tricky for busy minds, yet it's one thing almost all top performers in any field will claim as part of their successful access to the flow state. You can find an empty space to sit comfortably, close your eyes (to get rid of visual distractions) and pay attention to your breathing. Hint: Don't try to stop thinking, it will just cause more thinking as a result. The easiest way to meditate is to focus on some white noise or count your breaths for as long as you can up to 15 minutes. Doing this first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day with a fresh slate. As in, make the to do list AFTER you meditate, not based off obligation.
2. Pay attention to your physical energy levels
Everyone has their own personal rhythm, some people get more done early in the morning, others are night owls, you already know which one you are already. But have you ever paid attention to what time of day you're more productive at certain tasks? One member of our team prefers to do number heavy tasks later in the day, another likes to get their organizing done the night before the next day, yet another team member prefers to get all client communications covered first thing in the day. If you're better at being creative at certain times of day don't try to force it when you're not feeling it, ever notice how it just doesn't work out when you do that?
3. Do what you love
You've heard the saying, "do what you love and you never work a day in your life", and it's true. Now, if you have a job and work for someone else, you might be thinking, "Yeah, but I get paid to do stuff I don't like to do." But is it all the way true? Take an inventory of your tasks and "responsibilities", what are your favorite parts of the job? If you can make a list of 5-10 things, make sure you pepper them throughout your work day, like treats for your brain. When you allow yourself to look forward to doing things you like, your brain will focus more on the positive and send less stress signals, allowing the hormones related to pleasure to be more present than stress hormones. Stress and flow cannot coexist, so the goal is to train your brain to head towards the good stuff.
4. Don't work past perfect
Here's the deal, when you start to feel tired, stiff, or your mind is starting to drift, it's time to stop. You're ready for a physical break, it's time to get up and walk around, go to the water cooler or if you're working at a coffee shop, it's time to pack up and walk to the park. Your brain needs stimulation and your body needs to move. If you're at one thing for too long, the pleasure of it will diminish over time, and you will lose the flow. If you make sure to take a break at the right time, you'll pick right back up in the state of fulfillment and be creating at peak performance.
5. Don't beat yourself up for not being in the flow
Everyone has off days, not one person on the planet operates at peak performance all day long. It's just how life is, somedays it's just easier to get in the zone than others. Now, if you're taking care of your body by resting well, eating right and getting exercise that will certainly help up your odds of being able to tune into your flow, but sometimes you just have a crappy day. On days where nothing seems to go right, do yourself a favor and make some visual notes that affirm your commitment to yourself. You can write on sticky notes and say things like:
"Tomorrow is another day."
"Get up and take a break."
"Did you eat?"
"Everything has a way of working out."
When you look at your notes to self, you help trigger your brain to plan for a better feeling state and pretty soon you'll be back up and running again.
One last thing, it's hard to stay in the flow state when you're not making things easy on yourself. If you're sitting in a junkie chair, or at the wrong angle you will be putting yourself at a deficit. The same goes for your tech and tools. If you're trying to game or create on an old laptop that just isn't up to todays heavier programs and apps then you're just going to get frustrated and start doubting your talents and skills. Let's face it, equipping yourself with the right environment and tools is part of taking care of yourself. Yes, you have a budget, but investing in your success is important, we get that and we get budgets, that's why we offer weekly deals on our gaming and creating laptops to help make it easier for you to get the equipment you need. Click here to find out latest deals.