Discover These Seven Tools To Achieve Flow State With Ease

Discover seven tools to help you achieve the flow state in this easy-to-read but informative guide. Find the center of your balance today.
Discover These Seven Tools To Achieve Flow State With Ease

If you have many tasks to do without the ability to focus when you're doing them, you're mostly lacking the flow state.

But what is that, why should it matter to you, and how can you get closer to achieving it? You're in the right place to have all of these questions answered. 

What Is the Flow State?

The flow theory indicates a mental state where a person maintains an unbroken focus on a particular task, even if there are distractions around them. In a way, you’re fully immersed in the present moment.

With all the distractions resulting from our fast-paced everyday life, achieving this flow state is increasingly difficult. 

Repetitive, overly easy, or tedious tasks can quickly make you lose track of your goal because boredom sets in before you even know it. Alternatively, tasks that are too challenging may fill you with anxiety, which also knocks you out of the flow state. 

The ideal solution here is to focus only on tasks that challenge your brain enough without being too complicated. However, that means refraining from doing 90% of your daily tasks, which is virtually impossible. 

The next best thing is "conditioning" your brain to be less affected by the task's tediousness or difficulty. This is called achieving the flow state. 

Quick Disclaimer

It's important to understand that the flow state isn't a condition you can achieve by clicking a button. A considerable amount of training and preparation goes into getting your brain used to attain it.

How long it takes depends on each individual's perception, but one thing we all have in common is that achieving the flow state takes our focus and dedication to the next level. 

The Seven Tools to Help You Trigger Flow States

Here are seven methods you can try to help you reach that treasured flow state. Since everyone's mind works differently, you may not find them all helpful, but you can test them to see which yields the best results.

1. Eliminate Distractions

Distractions can slow you down and take a huge chunk of your productivity. They can exist in smartphones, social media, visual distractions, and more.

While some distractions, like city noise, can't always be controlled, you can manually remove some of them. Smartphones and social media are among the biggest distractions that we willingly go to. 

If you want to keep stay in the present moment, put your smartphone in a different room and turn off the WIFI. That way, you'd only get notified if someone calls you.

Do your best to eliminate distractions, especially if you have a task that requires focus, and you'll be one step closer to staying in the zone. One way to help you do this is by using apps specifically designed to help you avoid distractions, such as Freedom, which work both on your phone and desktop device. 

2. Set Clear and Achievable Goals

We all had those moments when we overestimated our abilities and created unrealistic goals and to-do lists, only to feel anxious after failing to finish our tasks.

Whenever you set a goal or target, you need to be smart about it. The SMART method is a great way to achieve this. Each letter stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

You need to specify your goals and put them in a measurable quantity that you can achieve. It's okay to have long-term goals, but your current work should contribute to the objectives you will achieve.

This helps your mind to take the "boredom" out of the equation and gives you that extra dedication required to keep going with your task without succumbing to distractions. 

Further, your goals should be relevant to you. In other words, you should "want" to achieve it. If you're chasing someone else's dream, you'll have difficulty focusing on it.

You should also have a flexible time frame for your goal. People have different abilities when it comes to getting things done, and you should be able to gauge your speed to put a time limit that's not too far or too near. 

3. Stop Working So You Can Keep Working

Most people make the mistake of working non-stop until they finish a task, thinking they are in a prolonged flow state.

This may work initially, but you'll quickly get bored, exhausted, and burned out simply because you're overworking yourself. 

On average, the brain can maintain its focus between 10 and 52 minutes. After that, efficiency will reduce until it considerably hinders at the 2-hour mark.

That's why the Pomodoro Technique came to life. This approach suggests that if you utilize intervals of 25 minutes followed by five minutes of break, you'll achieve the best productivity. 

By allowing your brain to rest before returning to the task at hand, you increase its efficiency. As such, you'll achieve more in five hours of work-break intervals than eight hours of non-stop work.

Keep in mind that you don't have to stick to the exact interval suggested by the Pomodoro Technique. It merely exists as a guide. You should be able to sense how long it takes your brain sails to struggle a little, and that's when your break should start.

4. Utilize Music Or Sounds

It's a common thought that the "library silence" is best for concentration, and that theory isn't wrong. Still, some people find focusing easier when listening to music or background sounds like white noise.

This one isn't for everyone, as some believe that silence is the way to go, while others think music can help you focus more. 

This marks music or background sounds highly subjective, and you'll have to test it yourself. But you need to be realistic when trying it out. For example, don't expect yourself to focus while playing heavy metal in your ears. If you are to try this method, do it with calm music that has no lyrics to distract you.

However, apps like brainFM and Noisli are designed to keep you in the zone. Unlike regular music, they are much more gentle for the brain and won't distract you from what you're doing.

If that music still distracts you, but you also don't like the sound of silence, you might try white noise. The theory here is that the monotonous white noise prevents your ears from picking up other sounds in the background that your brain may find distracting.

5. Perform Pre-task Rituals

By taking a few minutes to prepare for the task before starting it, you signal to your brain that it's time to perform a certain task. Think of it as a pre-run warm-up. Those few minutes of warming up before running can prevent your body from experiencing a nasty cramp. 

For example, if you're about to cook something, take a few extra minutes to prepare your knives, cutting boards, pots, and plates. 

Cleaning your desk and preparing your pens and tools before you study or work on a project can also help you achieve the flow state.

There are no rules regarding those rituals. You're free to find a set of rituals or steps that resonate with whatever task you have in mind.

Although you may sometimes not be in the mood for these rituals, sticking to them can gradually turn your attention away from the surrounding distractions and into the task you have on hand.

6. Practice Meditation

Meditation is a tool to train your brain to do what you need. Our brains are stubborn, and they like to do what's comfortable for them, like staying in their bubble and not taking chances.

However, when you force your brain to meditate every day (or every fixed interval), you gradually train it to follow your instructions. Whenever you meditate, you gain more ability to instruct your brain to focus on calming down your body to keep you in the zen state of meditation. 

That ability will reflect later on the daily tasks you need to achieve. You've already trained your brain to listen to you when it's time to calm down and focus on meditation. What can stop it from listening to you now when it's time to focus on a certain task?

7. Infuse Joy Whenever Possible

This is a tricky one, especially when you're already used to a certain task that feels like a routine where there's nothing new to enjoy. Going to work every morning and sitting at your desk doesn't really provide much room for enjoyment, right?

But in almost every job, there's an element of joy. For example, if you work in construction, find joy in lifting heavy equipment in a way that trains your muscles to be stronger.

In an office job, find joy by making your desk more colorful and engaging. Use action figures, colorful sticky notes, small, engaging toys, or a secret drawer of chocolate to open whenever you reach a milestone.

We won't lie; it can be much more difficult to find joy in some tasks, which is why you should exert extra effort to turn that tedious task into something you enjoy.

But why is it so important to find joy even if we must put considerable effort into it? The answer lies in a part of our brain known as the ventral tegmental area. This area is associated with motivation, pleasure, and focused attention.

Whenever one of these three sensations is activated, there's a tendency to activate the other two. If you can't focus, find intrinsic motivation or pleasure to help you do so, and what better way to achieve motivation and pleasure than to enjoy what you're doing?

Try visualizing your short or long-term goals to help you remember why you started what you're doing. Create to-do lists to feel a sense of achievement when you finish them, and talk to people at work to avoid feeling isolated. These little things can go a long way into making you enjoy what you do. 

Final Words

Whether it's by eliminating distractions, practicing meditation, or harnessing the power of music, the flow state is a few steps away. Yes, we mentioned earlier that not all of these tools will work for you, but that doesn’t keep you from trying to remove those pesky distractions!

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