When was the last time you were so focused, you forgot to check your phone, get up for a snack, or scroll Facebook?
Professionals call this state of being “in the zone”. We like to call it being “in flow.” It is directing linked to leading a better and more fulfilling life.
It is the best part of life where you get both the joy of being completely invested in the goal in front of you and the ease of not thinking about anything else; the best work comes from these states of mind. It should be effortless, something that naturally captures your attention, there is no force or strain about it.
Another way to really notice you are headed towards a flow state is when you are passionate about something you are doing. When your excitement and passion push you outside of your comfort zone then you are primed and ready to slip into a flow state.
People assume this would be difficult to achieve or more likely based on chance and random occurrence. The truth is you can train yourself to slip into this place every day. Here are some tips on find your flow.
Keep your mind clear
What is stopping you from finding your flow?
Overview your to-do list and figure out what you are going to focus on today and exactly when you will do it. When we are unsure about the completion of a task, our doubt interrupts our flow, so make a plan. Research shows that our brain isn’t nagging us to complete our tasks but rather to simply plan them. So when you put your plan down first thing, you can get rid of that planning nagger.
Be aware of your timeline. Knowing the next steps is important to keep the flow going. When you aren’t sure of the next moment you can get bogged down in the planning so plan and let it go. Really know what you have already done, what you are doing first, and what will be done at the end.
I also find it super helpful to do a visual clear of yourself of notifications and documents on your screen. Make sure your visual space is clear so that you can’t get distracted by a long list of emails or files all over the place. On that note…
Your area must be distraction free
If you aren’t able to focus, you are not where you need to be.
Even if the distractions are enjoyable, they are still distractions and stopping you from achieving your peak flow. Think of it as a long car ride. You won’t make it if you haven’t prepared with snacks and music, and you also won’t make it if giant speed bumps keep coming up to stop you. So treat your space like you are going on a long road trip. Cut yourself off from everything else. Don’t even let it be within arms reach, like a cell phone in a purse.
But, also remember to put thing near you that you will need. Open any word documents you will be using or web pages, don’t let searching break your progress. If you think this will take a while, grab snacks, and keep them close. Go to the bathroom, have water, and get ready to really settle in.
Prep your mind for focus.
This does not require any crazy gadgets or years of study, just follow these steps and your mind will be ready to go.
- Have a snack. You need energy to concentrate and a stomach that isn’t constantly grumbling.
- Drink water, like a lot. Being dehydrated will throw off your brain as it is 73% water. Your brain will go into survival mode if it is in need of water, so make sure it is fully satisfied before starting.
- Play some music. Lots of people use music to help focus. It shuts your world off and can put you in the right mood. Lyrics are fine if they don’t distract you but using piano or purely instrumental music is also a good idea.
- Breath. Take a few really deep breaths to steady yourself and let blood flow to your brain. It lets our body know that we are safe and in a place to take our time.
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