How to reach the flow state in our distracted world

What is the flow state? As described in the famous 1990 book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says that the “best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” When you reach the flow state, you become so absorbed in a project that time seems to stand still and nothing can stand in the way of you achieving your personal goal.

Reaching a flow state relies on you being able to work for long stretches of time uninterrupted. That may seem difficult in a world full of distractions, but really, it’s just a matter of scheduling. With that said, here are 3 ways to reach the flow state.

Figure out what times of day are least likely to be interrupted: Analyze your schedule and see what moments of the day you are most likely to experience peace and quiet. If you’re lucky enough to have more than one chunk of the day where this is the case, choose a time frame where you will have the most energy. If you get in your groove after 9 p.m., and your household is quiet then, that can work too.

Match the right work to the right time: Although a flow state can be great for paid work, it’s not all about that. It’s an important experience in and of itself and can give you a boost of life satisfaction. What Csikszentmihalyi means to say is that if your work doesn’t allow for many opportunities to reach a flow state, dedicate the quiet chunks of your day to reaching the flow state with another activity. More specifically, creative and analytical projects are good choices for the time slots where interruptions are minimal and where the flow is possible. That way, you get the most out of your quiet parts of the day.

Set yourself up to succeed: There are many things you can do to prepare yourself for the flow state. Turning off your phone, keeping a water bottle handy, and creating a to-do list for later are all ways you can keep your mind occupied with the present moment.

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