Triggering flow state
My team recently asked me, How do we attain flow state and maximise peak performance?.
Attaining a flow state has been something I have been working on for the last two years. My deep work schedule allows me to enter a flow state, complete key tasks, and solve challenges with more focus and energy.
In this post, I want to share my learnings and experiences in building a system to help me enter a flow state. I will share the tools, techniques, and strategies to practice the flow state.
So what is a flow state?
It is a mental state where you are fully immersed in a task with more energy, happiness and focus.
A flow state is when you are doing things with loads of happiness. It is not just completing a task at hand but about pushing the boundaries of your mental experience when achieving something.
"The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile."
– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Author of the book 'Flow State')
Below are the triggers I use to enter into a flow state
Turn off distractions - This is key for one to enter the flow state is to remove all distractions (both external and internal distractions). Distractions are the biggest enemy that stops one from entering a flow state and focussing on things that matter.
A couple of years ago, I assessed my focus and attention span; I was ashamed that I couldn't concentrate on one task for more than 10 mins. I was easily distracted, and as a result, I would take 3x the normal time to complete a task.
Choose the best time of the day to practice flow state
I tend to schedule my deep work in the early hours of the day. This time in the morning, it is quiet with minimal external distractions, thus enabling me to enter a flow state quickly.
Also, early morning is when my body is at its peak energy. I take a cold shower, complete my morning ritual and sit down with a long black coffee to start deep work.
You need to find the best time in your day where external distractions are minimum and your energy levels are at peak
Use tools to remove internal distractions
Are you someone who ends up opening 20 tabs and getting into a wormhole of distractions? You are not alone; I was on the same boat too.
But technology can help us remove distractions. I use focus mode on my iPhone to help me silent incoming calls, switch off notifications, and open apps.
On my desktop, I use 'Rescuetime' to help me schedule my focus time and block all distractions (which includes opening social media and other destructive sites, pausing notifications and more)
Now that distractions are removed, the next thing is to pick the right task or challenge you want to work on.
Choose a task with clear outcomes
Flow state allows you to fully immerse your mental state in completing a task. But knowing what should be done and the expected outcomes significantly helps us enter the flow state.
Pick one specific task at a time. You need to make sure the task is challenging enough but not too challenging.
During the allocated deep work time, I pick two to four slots (30mins each) to focus on one task. Before starting the work, I write down the task and what I would like to achieve for each slot.
Get caffeinated and drink enough water
I am not advocating drinking coffee, but sipping a bit of coffee during my flow state boasts my overall focus and productivity. I settle with one or two warm cups of coffee during the deep work schedule.
In addition to coffee, keeping yourself hydrated is equally important. When each slot gets over, I stand up and walk around the room with a glass of water.
Listen to some great focus music.
Music helps attain a flow state, and the right music helps increase focus and attention during deep work.
One of the playlists I often listen to while deep work.
Build a system and habit with mental cues
Adding some routine or ritual reminds the brain about deep work and prepares to enter a flow state. My ritual is writing the task again and the expected goal in my notebook and taking a second to affirm to myself that I will complete this task.
This ritual sends a mental cue to prepare my mood to focus and encourage entering a flow state.
Give it a try
As a startup founder, being productive and focused is important. Being in a flow state allows me to be most productive and happiest. I am not stressed; I clearly think and bring great solutions to the challenges I face in the startup journey.
I love being in the flow state these days, and I consider it my superpower to get things done. I wanted to remind you that getting into a flow state is a delicate process, and you would practice frequently.
I hope this post shares some insights on how you can get started. The only thing you need to do is give it a try, and you will not be disappointed.
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