“How to get into a flow state” is one of the most searched questions on Google. Why you might ask?
Because a flow state is an unwavering grasp of your time and efficiency. During my studies, I would grind for one hour, and take a 10-minute break, over and over again.
You experience feelings of increased creativity because you’re less self-conscious during flow state. You have increased focus on what you’re doing. You have confidence that what you’re working on is achievable.
Once you’re in a flow state, you are unstoppable. But getting there can be the tricky part. Let me share 7 ways you can get in the zone.
1. Get fresh air and stretch.
Instead of diving right into the task at hand, consider getting your body into the most relaxed state possible.
If you’re someone who works from home, it can be easy to roll out of bed and start working at 50% efficiency. No matter what the elements are, get outside walk around your neighborhood and inhale fresh air.
With oxygen flowing to your brain, you let your blood flow smoothly and build a sense of relaxation. When you return to your task, you can take a 5-minute stretching session to loosen up any kinks in your body to avoid aches and other bodily distractions.
Now your body is feeling better than it did before and you can start to lock in.
2. Make a 3 step-checklist of things you need to accomplish.
Three is a magic number that clicks in most people’s heads. Prioritize the top 3 things you must accomplish with the most important at the top and the least urgent at the bottom.
Without a priorities list, you have a greater chance of failing to ever get started. Serving 6 years in the Army taught me that “failure to plan is a failure to execute”. Rarely will you see someone successful continuously “wing it” and have everything go to plan.
When you check off your three tasks, lock in again and plan your next three moves. The constant flow of productivity will rush over you without the daunting feeling of endless tasks. Sticking to three tasks will avoid overwhelm, burnout, and procrastination.
3. Block out any distractions.
Play music on your noise-canceling headphones, blast music, or work in silence. However you operate best is how you should set up your environment.
Silence your mobile phone and track the time. If you can’t track the time, set timers. Say to yourself, “It should take 20 minutes for this task” and make it happen.
A log blocking a river would disrupt the flow of water the same way a dinging cell phone would disrupt your mental flow state. Eliminated distractions enhance the odds of being in a flow.
4. Just get started.
Now that you’ve done all the prep work, you just need to get started. Many people like to think about what they’re going to do before taking action.
Just get started. So what if you’re not happy with the result right away, at least you’re getting the ball rolling. As you gain momentum, put out fires, and make progress, you’ll steadily enter the flow state.
You can always come back later to polish your task and conduct quality control, but if time has passed and you have nothing to show for it, you’re going to feel like crap and veer off.
5. Let any intrusive thoughts come and go.
I would be lying to you if I said that once you’re in a flow state, you’re there for good. Every productive person experiences intrusive thoughts or random concerns that come to mind while in the middle of something.
Acknowledge the mental distraction, but don’t let it take you away from your flow state completely. Accept that something else is creeping into your mind and keep moving forward.
When you don’t let your thoughts ruin your productive state, you maximize your time. Live in the present and keep your focus on point.
6. Get more fresh air.
Great, you’ve accomplished your first hour of flow state and you’re feeling on top of the world. Step out and get some fresh air. Let your mind rest without the distraction of your phone.
Bring your mental state back into that peaceful, relaxed state where your stress levels are down, and you’re ready for part two.
A breathing technique I like to do is a deep inhale for 6 seconds, a hold for 6 seconds, and a large exhale for 6 seconds. A few runs at this breathing method will lower your heart rate and give you a clear head.
7. Create a new priority list.
Depending on where you are with your priorities, you will need to create a plan for hour two of productivity. Your flow will come and go. Not everyone is wired to be “go go go” 24/7, so natural breaks are necessary.
A fresh set of priorities will allow you to create a plan of attack for hour 2. You get the satisfaction of crossing off your first wave of priorities and move forward.
Let’s imagine that you’re a fireman walking around with a fire extinguisher putting out different fires, getting a call about another fire, and putting those out too. Your ability to put out fires will become second nature and you’ll keep crushing it.
8. Be patient with yourself.
Not everyone is designed to work like a supercomputer and constantly achieve a flow state. It takes lots of trial and error to see what clicks for you.
Note the things that help you focus, and minimize the things that hinder it. Accomplishments take time and if you try to rush the process, you can become easily frustrated and panic.
One day at a time. As you get into a steady flow and internal rhythm, getting started will be second nature.
Successful people have systems that work for them, not against them. Explore all the routes that you think could benefit your focus and put you into a flow state.
Everything I mentioned above is strategies that work for me, but may not directly translate to you.
One thing I know for sure is that a flow state is undefeated and you can put yourself on a very good path if you can find ways to generate more states of flow.
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