Monday, July 11, 2016

Finding Your Flow

We all have an optimal state of focus at which we are our most productive.  These are the moments inThe Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance...which we are fully immersed in what we are doing, allowing us to get further and faster.  This is what is referred to as being 'In Flow'. According to Steven Kotler, author of
"Flow is an optimal state of consciousness, when you feel and perform your best.  It's the moment of total absorption. Time speeds up or slows down like a freeze-frame effect. Mental and physical ability go through the roof, and the brain takes in more information per second, processing it more deeply."
There is over 150 years of research in the study of flow, which professional athletes have long taken advantage of. They are typically extremely skilled at deliberately creating a state of flow, to enhance their performance in real-time moments of need.  Given that a gallop poll suggests that the average business person spends less than 5% of their day in flow we all have room for improvement.  Imagine if you were able to increase your moments of flow to 15% .  Just that shift would serve to double workplace productivity.

Use the following insights to help you learn to Find Your Flow more consciously and strategically...

Challenge Yourself.  For flow there is a clear balance that must be struck between Challenge and Skill. Too little of a challenge and boredom will set in.  A challenge without the needed skillsets to accomplish it will lead to anxiety.  The ideal is a high level of challenge where your existing skills are also high.

Take Risks.  All risks require focus.  Even emotional risks require concentrated effort.  Keep the above point in mind, looking for risks that present a challenge for you, a step outside of your comfort zone, but that fall within your skillsets.

Clear Distractions.  It will prove difficult, if not impossible, to work in flow if you are constantly being interrupted. Block off time, shut off electronic devices and close your door!

Use your Senses.  The deeper your level of engagement, the more of your senses you are likely using. Open your senses to immerse yourself more fully in the task.

Change the Environment.  Your workplace environment can drive comfort and complacency, which may work against your finding flow. A more complex environment, with a certain element of novelty can demand your focus, making it far more difficult to simply 'walk' through your day, since your habits and routines won't fit these new and challenging situations.

You'll know that you're in flow when you find yourself so absorbed and involved in what you are doing that you lose your sense of self and time to the task.  You will experience greater clarity, motivation and satisfaction from the work.

Given that your best and most productive work comes out of your moments of Flow, it makes sense to learn to cultivate these moments. Use the tips above to help you take your productivity (and success) to the next level!


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