Go With the Flow: 5 Tips to Harness the Psychology of ‘Flow’ for more Productivity and Happiness

Go With the Flow: 5 Tips to Harness the Psychology of 'Flow' for more Productivity and Happiness

Have you ever felt that sudden burst of productivity in your life? That one time you felt you were going through time by the second. The moment went in slo-mo as you were taking action. You were so focused on the task at hand. No room for self-doubt. And you made it! You conquered the challenge with flying colors.


Going back, the whole dramatic moment was over in just a few minutes. Why did it feel longer than that? Why did you feel fearless? How can I get that feeling again?


That, my friend, is you getting in the zone. You just harnessed the Psychology of 'Flow'.


Flow???


Flow???

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Flow is the state where you are completely immersed in the activity. It's like your perception of the things unrelated to your tasks suddenly disappears. In this state, you used your abilities to the highest potential.


You feel the boost in your productivity, creativity, and accelerated learning. You experienced fearlessness and your output is fulfilling both in quality and your happiness in the process. It coincides with deep work. Your work is meaningful for you and you did it exceptionally well.


'Flow' is not only present in sports or physically demanding activities. The 'flow' state can also be applied to tasks such as writing, illustrating, or washing dishes. Pretty neat, right?


Sounds Like a Video Game Superpower But Science Backs It Up


Sounds Like a Video Game Superpower But Science Backs It Up

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Yes! But this is not just some magic productivity mumbo jumbo. It's backed up by science. When we are in the flow state, scientists found out that the body produces neurochemicals that allows this 'boost' in our power.


Potent chemicals such as endorphins, dopamine, anandamide, and serotonin go haywire during this moment. And stress hormones are also flushed out creating perfect blend to fire you up.


How Do You Know If You’re in the State of Flow?


How Do You Know If You’re in the State of Flow?

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According to Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi, a Hungarian-American psychologist and the writer of "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience", there are ten factors that create the state of flow. Although not all of them should be present, most of them should occur to invoke your new superpower-like skill.



  1. Clear goals that are difficult but attainable with the current skill level.


  2. Intense Concentration with minimal distraction.


  3. Loss of self-consciousness where your action moves almost automatically


  4. Distorted Sense of Time because of extreme focus


  5. Immediate Feedback in the action. So you can adjust accordingly if needed.


  6. There is a balance between skill level and the challenge.


  7. The lack of awareness of bodily needs like hunger and fatigue.


  8. The feeling of personal control over the circumstances and the outcome.


  9. Complete focus and absorption on the activity itself.


  10. The activity is intrinsically rewarding.



Isn't it cool to be in such state?  But you must understand this condition is fleeting. You can't enter the flow state at will.


So the big question is how do you get into the flow state? There is no foolproof way to achieve this. At the very least, we can set up ideal circumstances to tap this superpower. These are 5 tips to harness the power of Flow.


Get Ample Quality Sleep


Get Ample Quality Sleep

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Starting your day with just 5 hours of sleep or less will severely hamper your normal productivity. It will induce a groggy and irritable state. Not to mention, your ability to concentrate (which is essential in achieving flow) is at its all-time low.


So better get enough quality sleep. Take advantage of the restorative REM sleep by following these 7 habits to cultivate better sleep. In extreme cases, you can even catch up on sleep during weekends to feel more refreshed for the coming workweek.


Eat Well. Do Not Be Hungry


Eat Well. Do Not Be Hungry

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Nothing is more annoying than a growling empty stomach. How can you focus when all you can think about is eating that hearty meal for breakfast/lunch/*insert meal time*?


It doesn't mean that you need to munch on everything while working. Just make sure to eat well because it affects your attention span. You need to get in the flow, right?


Cut Out Distractions


Cut Out Distractions

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It's a very distracting world. With technology in our fingertips, the impulse to swipe that social media app is almost second nature. We have this imbibed addiction to checking the notifications as soon as they pop. Or just plainly checking our phones whenever we want to.


Know that you can never achieve flow when you are distracted. It's high time to maybe put your phone away to somewhere inaccessible. For unavoidable distractions such as noise working in our coffee shop, you can invest in a pair of earplugs or earphones with one song on repeat.


This will tell the outside world that you don't want to be bothered and maybe can create an imaginary protected space around you.


Try the Pomodoro Technique


Try the Pomodoro Technique

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If you absolutely can't stop yourself from distractions, you might want to try the Pomodoro Technique.


The Pomodoro technique was invented by Francesco Cirillo. It is characterized by short bursts of productivity followed by multiple short rest periods to provide that hard first step jolt. He named it after the Tomato-shaped clock that he used while applying the technique.


With this, you can still embrace your need for distraction. You can view your "breaks" after the Pomodoro as a reward for the focus you invested on your task. And hopefully, the Pomodoro sessions will invoke the flow state.


Avoid Multitasking


Avoid Multitasking

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Lastly, speaking of tasks, you should avoid multitasking. Multitasking is when you quickly switch from one task from the other. Switching your focus rapidly does not promote flow because it might take time to be in the zone. And to sustain the flow, you must completely be engulfed with that one task at hand.


With that, I hope you take advantage of flow and get to achieve things you dreamed of. Have fun!



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