Find Your Flow
Have you ever found yourself doing something so absorbing, that time, space, and the third dimension all drop away? This is what professionals call a state of Flow (more on the definition later). We realise that in our hard and fast world it can be difficult to make time for the things we truly find fulfilling, so if you've found real-life has been catching up with you a little too quickly, we're here to help nudge you back towards your Flow.
So first of all, wtf is Flow? Flow is a term used by psychologists to describe a state of mind that sees us so engrossed in a task that everything else falls to the wayside; physical needs, time, worries, and anxiety. You may have already experienced Flow, whether it's in sport, creative pursuits, or even (for the lucky ones) your working life.
Athletes often refer to this state of mind as 'The Zone', but it was the positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who coined the term Flow. The ideas behind Csikszentmihayli's work stretch further into Eastern ideologies that have been popularised in the West through mindfulness and meditation, and at it's core, Flow is an acute awareness of the task you are performing in the present moment, with the added satisfaction of a tangible outcome.
Find the Right Flow
Flow can be understood as the perfect convergence of a challenging task met by a natural ability. There's no point doing tasks over and over if you're brilliant at them (for they lose all meaning), and no point doing them if you can't complete them at all (because you will never find satisfaction). But when we come across a task we're good at, yet it still poses a challenge, that is when we find our Flow. So the first step is to find something that meets these criteria. What do you enjoy, but is also difficult enough for you to feel proud of your achievement once the challenge has been overcome?
Build the Skills
A state of Flow arises from the challenge of the task we choose, and the most rewarding action comes from the process of developing a skill. When we choose a task that presents us with an uphill climb, it's important to make sure it's not so steep that it cripples us along the way. In doing so we will begin to find Flow in the action of learning and improving.
Create Clear Goals
Understanding the outcomes of the effort you put in and creating realistic goals makes it much easier to achieve them. Following methods such as WOOP, where we not only imagine positive outcomes, but possible obstacles and how we would overcome them, is a proven way to help us achieve the goals we set ourselves.
Put your phone on DND, or better yet, leave it in another room. Switch off the TV, and put any niggling tasks out of your mind (they'll be there when you get back, trust us). It takes a while to enter Flow state, so creating an environment to achieve it is necessary to flow successfully.*
Bringing yourself into the present moment through practices such as breath-work and meditation can help direct your focus into the here and now, making sure your attention is ready for a state of Flow. Meditating just before an activity can be helpful both for your concentration on the task at hand, as well as helping you achieve Flow a little faster.
You may already have an inkling (or for the show-offs, a deep understanding) of where you find your state of Flow, whether it's painting, surfing, writing, coding, gaming, cooking, or literally any activity ever, but sometimes accessing it can be a pain in a world full of distractions working against our Flow 24/7. Setting aside time in your week to work on something you truly love to do will not only decrease levels of stress, but you'll have something great to show at the end of it too.