Being in flow and is our natural state. When we feel this way, life seems so much smoother, and in everything we do we find joy and fulfilment. Flow fills us with a sense of purpose.
I’m doing an online course about living a life of happiness and fulfilment, with Professor Rajagopal Raghunathan. Flow state is one of the modules covered in it. After watching a couple of videos, I just knew I had to do a podcast episode about it!
I refer to being in flow so often in my talks, but I’ve never gone into what exactly it means or how to align with that feeling because I assume everyone knows. Now I realise that explaining it in more detail can make a world of difference!
All of us experience this state of mind at some point or another in our lives, but it was Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who coined the term “Flow” and associated it with deep focus and productivity. His definition brought clarity, and with it the ability to tap into it more easily.
In this episode, I’ve taken a deep dive into:
- What exactly is flow state?
- How to identify if you’re in flow?
- The many benefits of being in flow.
- In what areas of life can we tap into flow?
- Five ways to ensure you get into and stay in flow in anything you do.
- How being in flow is especially important for multi-passionate people.
Listen on the embedded player below, or on your preferred podcast player. If reading is your jam, then scroll down for the transcript. Enjoy! 🙂
“When you’re in flow, you feel deeply fulfilled. You have a sense of purpose. And because you have a sense of purpose, it actually brings up your happiness quotient. You feel more joyful with life, and with joy comes hope, and a sense of well being.”Susmitha Veganosaurus – The Feel Good Factor Podcast
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Transcript of episode about tapping into flow state for productivity and fulfilment
(gently edited for a better reading experience)
Think of a time when you’re doing something that brings you a deep sense of contentment, satisfaction, joy. You’re so deeply involved with what you’re doing, so fully focused in the present, that you don’t know what’s happening in the world around you. And aren’t even bothered.
Your complete attention is focused on what you’re doing. You’re doing it with your full being – your heart, soul, mind – involved in it. Maybe it’s painting something, or cooking, or gardening. It could even be while doing some kind of work where you’re so deeply involved with the work, and you’re progressing steadily and smoothly.
When you’re in this state, you are in a state of flow
I recently learnt that the term ‘Flow State’ was coined and defined by Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Yes, yes, the name is quite difficult to pronounce and I had to google it and listen to the pronunciation a few times before I came here and told it to you. Haha
But this man who’s a Hungarian professor, who lived in the United States in the later part of his life, figured out what flow state is and how it can help everybody be more productive, and more joyful.
So when you’re in flow state, how exactly do you feel? First of all, you feel fully present and focused
- in the moment
- in the here and now
- just there completely
- thinking of the past
- thinking of the future
- even thinking of what other people are thinking of you
- self conscious
- judging yourself or questioning yourself
There’s no little voice in your head saying, “this is right, this is wrong. This is how you should do things.” You’re just doing it, You’re just being there.
Second characteristic of flow state is you feel no sense of rush or stress
No running from place to place, or being all over. Time essentially feels like it has completely slowed down. You can focus on all the details of what you’re doing. And you feel as if you have all the time in the world to do it.
You aren’t rushing anywhere. You’re just totally stress free, slowed down, and in that moment.
The third feature is that when you resurface from your flow state, you realise that though you thought time has slowed down, it’s actually rushed past – like super fast
In a snap! You begin doing your work, and then when you come out of it, you realise it’s already a few hours later. But it didn’t feel like few hours later, it felt like, “oh it was such a short period of time.”
These feelings are beautiful. This is what our minds, our hearts, our whole selves are meant to be experiencing for the maximum part of our lives, our daily lives. Our days should be spent in flow, should be spent in ease.
But often we’re too distracted, we’re running about and we deny ourselves this flow state
By doing that we’re doing ourselves a great disservice! Because when you’re in flow, you feel deeply fulfilled. You have a sense of purpose. And because you have a sense of purpose, it actually brings up your happiness quotient. You feel more joyful with life, and with joy comes hope, and a sense of well being.
And of course it makes you a much nicer person, right? You have hope, and you have joy, so you’re going to be more patient, you’re going to be kinder to others, all of it. And you’re going to think more positively, you’re going to look at whatever comes to you in a more positive light. You will see the best of any situation.
So being in flow state has so many benefits, not just this. Constantly tapping into that flow state, being in flow, it has so many benefits for you overall.
Now flow is normally associated with creativity
Like an artist being in flow, making something in flow. Or it’s associated with productivity. Which is doing work in flow state, you know. You’re making things happen because you’re totally focused on getting things done.
Flow is also described as being “in the zone”
A lot of gamers say this. Whether it’s a game like an online game, or a digital gaming experience, or if it’s a sport when you’re running around and playing with somebody, playing any kind of game. Or even board games where you’re sitting with somebody and playing. In all these situations, people experience flow state.
They say, “yes, I’m in the zone, and that’s why I’m able to win again and again. That’s why I’m able to progress again and again.”
Now all this makes it sound like flow state is something that only some people can experience, or you can experience it only in certain situations. But that’s not true at all!
You can experience flow doing almost anything, it doesn’t have to be creativity, productivity, or play alone. It could be anything in between, any other area of life. So even things which you think you may not enjoy, which may seem monotonous, can become enjoyable if you get into flow state.
For example, something like data entry. If in the course of any of your work you’re doing some kind of a repetitive action which may seem like, “okay, this is going on and on.” And when you look at it from the outside, it may seem like, “oh no, it may be boring.”
But once you get into it, and you have the system in place, and you have the flow going, you actually start enjoying it quite a bit. You go through the whole thing and it feels so much easier.
Anything can be done in flow state, anything at all
Before you begin anything, you can put certain things into place, a certain system or framework, boundaries around you into place, so that you ensure you’re in flow whenever you’re doing that thing. That way you can apply these practices to anything that you’re doing, and then tap into the state of flow.
And by being in this state, of course you’re going to be more productive, more fulfilled, and you can get a lot more done.
Professor Csikszentmihalyi says that flow can be found in this sweet spot between boredom and anxiety
So you shouldn’t be feeling anxious or stressed about anything, nor should you be feeling bored.
With anxiety inducing activities, what you need to do is ensure that you’re slowing down and removing the anxiety inducing factors. Like worrying about what others think for example, or focusing on a deadline in the future, for example. These are things that cause anxiety. Remove that so then your anxiety gets removed.
And the way to remove boredom is to remove the monotony from the monotonous.
Basically, you challenge yourself just a tiny bit
Not push yourself too hard, but you can’t be completely in your comfort zone either. You need to push yourself a bit. Challenge yourself a little bit. Then you can eliminate boredom because it’s interesting when there is a little bit of a challenge.
Then you’re alert. You’re possibly learning something new, and overcoming those little hurdles, or climbing slightly uphill with a challenge. That’s going to ensure you don’t have time, or you don’t have the space of mind to feel bored.
That is the first thing. Once you ensure thhere’s a little bit of challenge in whatever you’re doing, then you can tap into the flow state more easily.
The second is no distractions
Obviously, right? You’re in a flow state, then your mind has to be on whatever it is you’re doing. The moment you get distracted mind goes here and there. What happens is you lose the flow state.
It takes 15 to 20 mins to first of all enter into the flow state. And even for two secs if you lose that focus, then you have to work again for another 15-20 mins before you reach that flow state.
So you need to turn off all notifications! In fact, better off is to silence your phone and keep it away from you whenever you’re doing any kind of work. Whenever you want to be in the flow state, just silence your phone and keep it away from you so that you aren’t distracted.
Because if you have a notification that pops up on your phone, and you only look at it, if you don’t click on it, you know, go into whatever message has come or whatever notification has come, even if you don’t go into it, you already lost focus. Your mind has gone into it.
“Oh there’s an email for me. There’s a message for me, there’s a comment waiting.” That’s all. You don’t even need to know what the content of that email or message or comment is, just knowing that it’s there has already taken a bit of your attention away.
By taking your attention away, you’ve lost focus because while you’re in flow, you have to be balanced and harmonious in what you’re doing. And this shakes you a bit, it shakes that focus a little bit, and because of that it takes so much time to get back into the flow state. So no distractions!
The third thing is no multitasking, and this is possibly the most important thing
You can’t be using your brain to do one thing while also having your brain occupied by another thing. So having multiple tabs open and doing work, but in the middle-middle, checking your email, you know things like that. That’s not going to be good.
This comes on the same lines as no distractions, but this is deeper. Distractions can be just for a few moments, but multitasking is where you think, “I’ll do this work. And while I’m doing this work I’ll do this other work also. So that both things get done in the same amount of time.”
But that’s not how it works because you aren’t going to be in a state of flow. It’s not going to take the same amount of time. It’s going to take a lot more time to progress in either one of those tasks, because you don’t have the feeling of flow and focus and stuff like that.
The moment you’re in flow and you’re working through a task, your progress is much faster, much smoother. It it feels slow because time slows down. But it’s actually faster because you get ahead a lot faster. You spend many hours going through the one thing and then just chugging along very smoothly. So deep focus is extremely important. Absolutely no multitasking allowed.
The other thing that you can rely on is to set reminders and alarms
Make use of those features on your phone. You want to avoid burdening the short term memory areas of your brain because there’s very limited space there.
So for example, you’ve set something on your stove to cook and it’ll be ready in about, say half an hour. It’s better to set an alarm to remind you after half an hour and then forget about it, versus thinking, “I’ll keep an eye on the clock, and after half an hour I’ll go and turn it off.”
Often we forget, and you know, that thing is going to get burned. Apart from that, whatever work you’re doing is not going to be happening in flow because a part of your brain is focused on that, right? Your mind is on that thing that’s on the stove partially. That’s not going to help you.
But if you have alarms set, reminders set, then you can just set it and forget it. The brain doesn’t have to carry that extra bit of burden, and you’re doing your work in flow. And then, when you have that alarm ringing you can go and turn off the stove or whatever else is that you need to do.
Same thing for reminders. A lot of us think we’re going to meet someone on this day, we have this meeting on another day, and whatnot. And it’s funny how we just don’t make use of the reminders feature on phones or calendars or whichever place.
You set it and forget it, then you don’t have it on your mind saying, “Thursday I have to meet someone, I have to leave, I have to go here. Or on this day, at this time, I have to make this particular call.” All these things, your mind, your brain doesn’t have to carry that all around with you throughout the day.
You can just forget about it. Just put it there, and now you have surrendered to the main reminders and the alarms. You’re like, “okay, they’ll remind me, I don’t have to think about it.” And that gives you more space in your brain to focus on whatever it is you’re doing in that particular moment.
Finally, before you begin anything, center yourself, bring yourself to the present moment
Focus on your breath, or do a few minutes of meditation, or chant. Anything that makes you bring yourself to the present moment, do it. Don’t depend on the task itself, that work itself, to bring you to the present. You bring yourself to the present, and center yourself, ground yourself, before you begin the task.
When you do this, when you meditate or breathe, and you bring your focus and attention to the present, you’re letting go of all the other thoughts. You’re letting go of the past and the future, you’re letting go of all of that.
You’re setting this intention, “okay now whatever work I’m beginning, I’m going to be fully involved in that work.” And when you set that intention, when you centre yourself, ground yourself and begin, then you’re able to tap into that state of flow in whatever work you do much sooner.
Almost immediately as soon as you start, you’re in a state of flow. So there’s a lot of power and magic in this focusing on meditation, chanting, your breath, and stuff like that.
So yeah, these are the five things you can do, to easily get into a state of flow.
The more you tap into flow, the more productive you’re going to be, the more joyful and fulfilled you’re going to be
And this works for any area of life, whether it’s business, creativity, playing, being present with your family, learning something new. Whatever it is you’re doing, the more you’re able to tap into flow, the more sense of purpose and joy and hope and fulfilment you feel in life. And that’s going to serve us so, so, so well.
Needless to say, tapping into flow state is extremely beneficial for multi-passionates
We want to do so many things, and we have so many thoughts, ideas, interests, and areas of life that we want to pursue. When we pursue something, the more we get into flow, the better it is for us.
We feel a sense of moving forward that we so desperately feel the need for. And moving forward in multiple areas of life simultaneously is a very important thing for multi-passionates.
Just setting the intention that you’re going to tap into flow state as much as possible through your daily life is going to help you on your journey of being a multi-passionate person.
I’m creating a course for multi-passionate people
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, creator, artist, homemaker, whatever it is, when you’re interested in many things, if you have many talents and skills that you want to pursue, and you want to learn from various areas, various subjects. If you have more than one interest, skill, talent, passion, then this course is just for you.
Join my newsletter, The Feel Good Tribe. In my next newsletter I’m going to share all about this upcoming course, and if you’re interested, I would love to have you be a part of the course.
Alright, talk to you next week. Take care.
Transcribed using Otter
“I’m a Spiritual Vegan Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur. I read voraciously, find humour in most things, and believe kindness and authenticity can make this world a happier, loving place.
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