Do you get distracted easily? Learn to concentrate better and develop your flow state in 3 simple steps
written by Justin Faraday
Athletes call it being "in the zone,” others call it being “locked-in.” Flow state is that magical zone where a task is just hard enough to challenge you, but not so hard that it's discouraging. Time slows down, and you can easily block out distractions. Combine flow state with something that you're passionate about, and you're on track for an amazingly productive life.
Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi developed the concept of Flow in 1975 and it soon became the core of his seminal book, Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Flow state revolves around the idea of superfluidity: a fancy way of saying that you’re able to focus without the friction of distractions. I’m sure you’ve felt Flow before. It’s empowering to feel capable of handling a task with the satisfaction of being pushed to your limits.
To learn more, watch Csikszentmihalyi's Ted Talk: Flow, The Secret to Happiness.
In 3 simple steps, you're going to create a formula for getting into flow state so that you can concentrate better, get more done and have more fun while you’re at it.
Step 1: Identify what distracts you and what doesn't.
Step 2: Have fun.
Step 3: Make a list of what helps you stay in the flow.
1) Identify what distracts you
Knowing what distracts you is helpful information to have when you’re trying to be productive. Let’s say you need to get some quality work done; you’re going to want to avoid distractions. If big open rooms with high ceilings make you anxious, then the university library is a good place to avoid. Trying to crush it today? It's even more important to know what music, places, and exercises help you get into flow state and help you stay there. The goal of this article is to get as many tricks up your sleeve as you can for maintaining focus and crushing your goals.
2) Have fun
Having fun is a dead giveaway that you’re in flow state. That’s why the next step to creating your flow state formula is to have fun. On your next day off, pack your schedule full of projects that you’re passionate about. The point is to have as much fun working as you possibly can. When you start to lose focus, notice the things that help you stay on task. Music, fidget toys, push-ups, breathing exercises, and even certain smells can help anchor you to the moment. You want to create a direct connection between being focused, listening to that special song, and doing those specific things. That way, when you’re in a distracting environment, you can use them to get into flow state.
3) Make a list
Make a list of the things that help you get into flow state and turn them into a habit. Your new flow state formula might be as simple as doing a breathing exercise while listening to your favorite song.
Smell and Memory
Because the sense of smell has such a strong influence on memory and emotions, pick a distinctive essential oil, herb, or scented candle and anchor that smell to flow state. To do this, the next time you notice that you’re fully focused, take a whiff of cedar, lavender, or whatever you choose. Do this enough times, and you’ll create a connection between that scent and a productive mindset.
Music and Mood
Music has a similarly powerful effect on emotions and motivation.Fast tempo music improves focus and increases productivity, whereas slow and soothing music will help you relax and unwind. Research shows that most people work more accurately and quickly when listening to music.
Stay in Flow State with Exercise
Being active keeps your brain primed for focus. Exercise, we now know, increases levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a protein that’s essential to memory and learning. Exercise reduces anxiety, improves short-term memory, and balances hormone levels, but even low-intensity activity enhances brain chemistry. In other words, exercise is a one-stop-shop for all benefits brain related.
Entering flow state takes practice and needs to be developed like any other skill. People who have an easy time slipping into flow state have usually spent a lot of time immersed in the things they love. It's easier to stay focused when you enjoy what you're doing. The more you can be in flow state and doing what you love, the easier it will be to get into flow state when you have to.
Communal workplaces are only growing in popularity, and it's hard to stay focused with so many conversations going on in the background. By developing a formula that helps you get in the zone, you can share your best self and your best work with your coworkers. Being happy and in the moment is infectious. Share it with others, and you'll be rewarded tenfold.
About the author:
Justin Faraday is a former EMT and avid health and nutrition enthusiast. After struggling with his health for many years, he got serious about feeling incredible. Get stellar mental health and nutrition advice at his blog: dopefreshfit.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/fullbodysmile/.
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