Have you ever been in the zone? Have you ever been so in to a task (sport, project, conversation) that you lost track of time and space? Have you ever been amazed by what you accomplished in an intense but short burst? Have you ever slipped into a stream of super-capability, super-productivity, or super-creativity?
If you answered, yes, my friend, you were in Flow.
You were in a peak state of consciousness, where we feel our best and perform our best. Flow.
How did you feel afterward - besides surprised - when you realized what had happened? Exhilarated! Euphoric! Impressed! (In my case). That feeling alone is worth the effort to figure out how to get more Flow. Not to mention the measurable productivity boost we experience. The deeper connection to our environment. The creativity we express.
So, how do we get more of all of that?! Let’s figure it out…
Describe your situation. Describe the environment, the people, the time of day, the level of challenge. Describe everything that was going on when you got into your Flow.
Let me guess:
You were focused. There were few distractions or interruptions. You knew exactly what you were supposed to do at that moment. There was no question about the task at hand. You were taking in new information and could clearly tell what was working and not working - in real time. You were challenged. But not too challenged. You had to stretch to succeed but you were certain that you had what it takes within you. And the outcome meant something to you. It was important that you get this thing right.
Did I get close?
Decades of scientific and social research indicate that those are the characteristics that contribute to Flow. And they are just a hand-full of the 17 documented Flow triggers. The environmental, psychological, social, and creative situations that help to trigger a Flow state and contribute to ultimate performance.
What does that mean?
It means that Flow doesn’t have to be a random occurrence. It doesn’t have to be a pleasant surprise. You can invite Flow. You can shape your environment and interactions to make Flow more likely. You can build capacity and instill habits that will produce a measurable improvement in your performance. AND lead to euphoric! impressed! feelings of accomplishment when the tasks are done.
Who doesn’t want that?!
So take a look at your to-do list, your environment, and your relationships. What needs to get done? Why is it important? And what can you do to shape your (physical, mental, emotional, social) space to support you while you work to accomplish it?
What can you do to invite more Flow?
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Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth, and Impact the World by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler
Increasing the "Meaning Quotient" of Work in McKinsey Quarterly by Susie Cranston and Scott Keller
The Rise of Superman: 17 Flow Triggers by Steven Kotler