Flow is “a state of involvement in people’s action where nothing else appears to matter. It’s so rewarding that people want to do it even at a high price, for the sake of doing so.” According to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
You are at your most efficient level and deliver better production results if you can get to this state.
It is in this state of flow where high-performers always do their best. Although they don’t actually know when they are in this state of flow, some main parallels are mentioned by high performers. The state of flow is a state of “no thinking,” in which the mind calms down. Flow can also be extended to working parties.
Tasks which can take days to perform can be performed over hours with the mental concentration and clarification required.
This is entirely contrary to the “hustle culture” and mindset. During a state of strain, you cannot reach flow. Only because you are still on and busy is not efficient.
Develop Partners published a study focused on the perspectives of 11 professionals and leading experts. How we can start creating flow conditions for ourselves is one of the best habits to cultivate.
The brain and the stream
An additional advantage to the flow condition is satisfaction. The impression that a task is performed optimally and superior performance produces dopamine. Thus, the highest job satisfaction lies in your results. Stress and anxiety counteract flow, such that learning to control is important.
The flow condition often momentarily decreases the pre-frontal cortex, so that we can remain entirely at the current time.
Through concentrating on the process and not the final state or the intended outcome, you have complete freedom to immerse yourself at the moment and deliver the finest work. It can sound counterintuitive. But the more we can release the result, the greater our attention on the job at hand.
In which conditions must the flow occur?
You must be a specialist in your profession, but that alone is not sufficient. The attainment of a flow condition depends on a continuous change. To flow, there must be a challenge, but not a challenge so big that a feeling of tension is induced. The challenge should be beyond the comfort zone of your specialist. This means that the challenge performs well while increasing and building on. For eg, you work up to lift larger and bigger weights when training in the gym, or you could hurt yourself if you try to do too fast.
“The secret doesn’t look at the expert as a milestone but as an attitude to take”. Said world-renowned sculptor and artist Joseph Walsh. His works are commissioned for the Pompidou Center in Paris and the Art Museum in New York. A specialist is someone who wants to learn endlessly.”
This sense of flow is extreme and can also arise in group situations, where the team acts as one, in their respective area of genius. In such conditions, such as an operating theatre, this can include reframing the tension response (once the mind gets stressed, it can knock you out of flow). It is therefore critical that the pressure can be channelled to stay in the flow state. Interestingly enough, anything so simple as a joke will control tension and anxiety.
Flow is not exclusive to artistic areas. Anyone who wants to invent, fix problems creatively or do their best work should use them.
How are we able to get into flow?
The expert panel in the Design Partners study shows personal routines designed to flow into the state of flux.
These rituals aim to focus on calming the mind by incorporating soothing techniques and preparing the tone for performance by the creation of a flowing atmosphere. For eg, this might be shutting off the phone or internet in order to prevent distraction.
Though it may not always be easy to manage the environment, it also seems that certain software or equipment will produce this sensation of flow. So, whether you’re athletes wearing a certain style of shoe or photographers using a specific camera, you can make these things like a ‘lucky charm,’ an extension of your personality.
Once in the state of flow, operation is automated and there is a “no thinking” state.
It could be useful to think about and consider what was happening to us, what we did, and how we did it when we felt the most flowing moments when we tried to figure out what our personal flows could be. It will help us unveil valuable clues about our method – even if just a few minutes at a time – making us more able to reach optimum efficiency and production quality.
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