Flow is being completely involved in an activity for its own sake.
Flow is when you forget about everything else, and you are fully engrossed by what you are doing.
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi described as one if the worlds leading experts in positive psychology describes flow as ‘completely focused motivation.’
Sportsman will experience being in the ‘zone’ where training and preparation let them enter a single-minded positive state where they are playing on the top of their game, totally energised, non fatigued and doing amazing things automatically.
Students may remember being able to sit for hours engrossed in text books and study.
As a surgeon I recall being so engrossed in what I was doing that hours flew by unnoticed by me as I operated with complete focus, (unfortunately my assistant didn’t always have the same advantage).
It’s not just specialised tasks that get you into a flow state, when was the last time you drove somewhere and couldn’t remember doing it ?
It has been said that practice of activity to attain the flow state is a key to making you feel happier.
It has also been suggested that some mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression can prevent you entering a flow state, this in turn stops you feeling the joy of being ‘totally engrossed’ in something you like doing.
So how do I get into the Zone or achieve a Flow State?
1. Before you start.
Focus on the result you want, make it specific, picture it in you mind and write it down.
2. Define the why.
Think of the reason you are going to do this activity to create motivation and mental momentum.
3. Choose something complex.
Chose something not too easy, not too difficult but something challenging.
4. Engineer the right environment.
Prepare yourself, don’t be distracted, get into the right state of mind, be in the right place.
Repeat the complex task, for sportsmen do drills, repeat the task until you drift into it, the more you practice getting into the flow state the more easy it becomes.
A state of completely focussed motivation is the ideal state for productivity.
Here is a link to the definitive book on the subject by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi one of the worlds leading experts in positive psychology.