If you’ve ever been in a mental state of flow, or in the zone, as it is also called, you know it is quite a unique feeling. You’d probably describe it as being completely focused and oblivious to everything other than the activity you were doing. Time itself seemed to go by faster than usual. In fact, this is not far from the truth.
The term flow was first introduced by Hungarian psychologist Csíkszentmihályi Mihály, who described it as a state of complete absorption with the activity at hand. He posited that people are happiest when experiencing this feeling.
So how can you enter the zone more often? As you can imagine, this does not happen randomly. Be it during work or leisure, like practicing a sport, there are some things you can do to help you achieve this focused state.
Eliminate Negative Emotions
There are certain feelings that make it more difficult, or rather, virtually impossible to get into flow. Obviously, if you are bored or lack the motivation to perform a given task, you won’t spend enough energy on it for your brain to completely focus.
But being too anxious to meet a certain deadline or because you have an appointment later will also prevent you from focusing. Likewise, you may be worried or upset about a certain situation, even if there’s nothing you can do about it right now. These little things will linger on the back of your mind and keep you from dedicating fully to your activity.
This is where a task or to-do list app can help. A good example is the BubblesPlanner app. Simply writing down the things that are worrying you with the intention of returning to them later helps your brain forget about them and free up space to focus on the present moment.
Getting into the zone can take some time. It can be 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the person. If a distraction suddenly breaks this state, such as a ringing phone, then you’ll have to start all over again. Try to reserve some time in your schedule where you can be away from your phone and other distractions.
Of course, if you work in a company this may not be easy because you probably need to communicate with your coworkers. But as much as possible, you can minimize interruptions by settling all pending issues before you sit down to work on your task.
Another good strategy, if you have the luxury to make your own schedule, is to work in the early hours of the morning or late hours of the evening. During these times, distractions will be minimal and you have more chances of staying in flow for longer.