We all know the feeling of being deep in the zone at work. You’re knocking things off your to-do list. You feel propelled by productivity. It’s as if you’re floating in a little bubble, removed from the outside world.
It’s commonly known as flow state and reaching it consistently is key to making headway in your work goals. Personally, I find that getting into a flow state like this takes real intention.
Put Your Head Down
You have to be willing to put your phone on “do not disturb” for a period of time. You have to be willing to throw yourself into the chasm of work that is laid before you and ignore all else for a short period of time for the good of the big picture.
I filmed a recent focus session as it played out in real time. In the midst of filming it, my 8 year-old walked in to inform me that my 7 year-old had finally picked out what game she wanted to download on her iPad. *sigh*
Did this break my flow? Yes, it did. But the point is that you have to be able to push through those momentary asides. You must find a way to put your head back down and do the work you set out to do in the first place.
There’s An App For That
I use the app Focus@Will regularly to get into a flow state. It offers mostly instrumental music, but the tracks have been scientifically studied and proven to have a positive effect on a person’s ability to focus.
There are a variety of genres to choose from along with a built-in timer, so you can set a specific length for your focus session. At the end of each session, it asks a series of questions to rate your productivity.
I personally don’t find that element to be very helpful. The idea is solid, but the execution lacks something.
In the spirit of sitting down and getting to work, there’s one book I often recommend. It’s called The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield. It takes an almost comical view of procrastination as it applies to any creative or knowledge worker whose job entails sitting down and doing independent work.
If you feel like your lack of productivity is holding your creativity hostage, this is the book for you. Whether it’s a business idea you want to get off the ground, a book you want to write, or a painting you want to finish, this book will give you a solid kick in the pants to get off your ass and get it done.
What’s Your Flow?
Recording my focus session was an interesting way to reflect on my process and how I rebound from interruptions. I’m going to be more aware of these little sessions, and over time, I may try using some fitness tech to track things like heart rate and breathing.
There has definitely been research done on this, but I’m curious to know from a personal perspective if my heart rate increases or decreases when I’m deeply focused like that. If there is a physical connection, that may help us understand how to more easily reach flow state.
What tools do you implement to find your focus and create a flow state in your work?
Drop them in the comments below.