Get Into Your FLOWMar 29, 2021
This morning as I got into my car and turned the key to start the ignition I thought to myself, this car is a beautiful machine. It starts with such ease and has a unique rhythm about it.
Have you ever stopped and really appreciated the wonder of your automobile? As I pushed on the accelerator the car went into motion, I realized the car was in its natural state of flow. It is firing on all cylinders, it’s humming away with no interruptions except me, the driver. Together the car and I are in flow as we cruise down the road. NASCAR drivers have a unique relationship with their race cars and state there is a rhythm and flow to the track as they make each turn and it requires intense concentration and they must move with the flow of the track.
Not feeling the car metaphor? Here’s another example. I love this because it speaks to dance and movement and I love to move.
Have you ever gone dancing and were a little reluctant to get up and do your thing to the music? When you first get up to dance you may feel a little awkward and it takes a little bit of time to get with the rhythm of the music. Pretty soon you find yourself feeling the music, warming up to the dance and fully immersed in your activity. You are now in the flow of the song and your body is in concert with the music. When the next song starts up you are already in momentum and feeling the groove, and may step it up a notch.
As the music further penetrates your soul you lose yourself in the rhythm and flow of the dance. Time stands still and when the song is over, you feel energized, and in some cases totally spent. The movements are so easy and natural.
My daughter majored in theater and dance and has described how it feels when a performance is going well: “Your concentration is very complete. Your mind is not wandering, you are not thinking of anything else and are totally involved in what you are doing…. your energy is flowing very smoothly. You feel relaxed, comfortable, and energetic.”
You too may have the same feeling when you are dancing or performing some sort of exercise.
You were in the ZONE. You were in rhythm and flow.
Now let’s take that same concept of rhythm and flow and apply it to your professional life because dancing and work are not any different. Do you get into the rhythm and flow with the work you do? Are there ways in which you can improve your daily rhythm and flow? Absolutely.
First, we must understand this thing called flow.
Positive Psychologists define Flow as one of life’s highly enjoyable states of being, wrapping us entirely in the now, and helping us be more creative, productive, and happy.
Psychological Flow captures your positive mental state of being completely absorbed, focused, and involved in your activities at a certain point in time, as well as experiencing enjoyment from being engaged in that activity.
As I prepare to write my blogs and record my podcasts, I get into rhythm and flow. I have intense concentration on what I am doing and focused on the task at hand. As with anything in life we tackle, we must get into our own natural state of rhythm and flow.
Can you get into a FLOW State? You betcha! Here are some tips on how to get yourself in flow, and what I would love you to do this week is use one or two tips every day.
Tip 1: Eliminate All External Distractions. ... You know what means….Bunker down in a quiet spot. Turn on your DO NOT DISTURB button on your phone and computer. Yes you can do that. Turn off anyone and anything that may disturb you. Put your phone in jail for 30 minutes with NO GET OUT OF JAIL passes.
Tip 2: Eliminate Internal Distractions. This seems to be the hardest one because the squirrels in our brains are actively seeking new experiences and thinking about the 100 things you have to get done. So before you want to get into flow…..do a quick 1-2 minute preparation. Simply close your eyes and let your mind relax. Call it a mindfulness exercise or a quickie mediation. Whatever works for you.
Tip 3: Work at your OPTIMAL PEAK TIME. We all have a biological rhythm and peak performance time. Don’t let it go to waste. For me, mine is in the morning when the house is quiet, the coffee is brewed and I can sit down quietly and get into my zone. This is why I stress the importance of having a morning routine as it does help you get into your natural state of FLOW. When your brain is tired and spent…..it’s hard to even do the simplest tasks. So I suggest that you do your hardest work in the early mornings when your brain is on fire.
Tip 4: Listen to Music. Put your headset on and put your favorite rhythmic song on and put it on repeat. Why you ask… It will relax your mind and the rhythm of the music will help you stay in FLOW.
Personally I listen to classical music from the baroque period because it causes the heart beat and pulse rate to relax to the beat of the music. Furthermore, baroque music decreases blood pressure and enhances your ability to learn.
Folks I don’t make this stuff up…….Music affects the amplitude and frequency of your brain waves, which has been measured by the brain wave machines.
Listen to music that works for you. Not too loud now and NO New SONGS. It must be something you are familiar with as you will fall into the flow of the music in the background.
Tip 5: Work On One Very Specific Task. Do one think at a time. This is not new news…..Our brain does not have the ability to multi-task. You will be more productive. Be clear on what you want to accomplish such as writing a contract, writing a blog, taking a class, or watching a training course. I guarantee this is what happens……I have proof…..let’s say you start taking an online class……10 minutes into it you start checking email, your phone, facebook, Instagram, etc. Are you guilty? YES. So challenge yourself to be fully present and in the moment. I see this all the time in Zoom calls. People are checking their phones, checking their other monitors and when you ask questions, they claim they didn’t hear the question. Are you perhaps a little guilty of this? Good, I am too.
Tip #6: Challenge Yourself. I already mentioned it and here it is again. CHALLENGE yourself. Our brains love a challenge and it will keep you in the present moment.
If you want to reach flow state, the task that you’re working on must be challenging enough for your brain to be fully engaged and active.
If a task is too easy, you’ll be bored quickly and your mind is likely to wander, so you won’t reach flow state.
Don’t make it too challenging as this will lead to frustration and stress and won’t allow you to get into FLOW.
Simply Use the 4% challenge. What do I mean by that? Finish your project faster than you had planned. Increase the time you exercise by 4%. If you walk 1 mile, increase it by 4%. These small incremental changes will add up and before you know it you will see the benefits.
Tip #7: You are going to love this one. TAKE in some caffeine. What???? Yes my friends. But don’t over do it.
According to Chris Bailey, author of Hyperfocus, consuming caffeine strategically can provide a serious productivity and focus boost. If you consume up to 200 milligrams of caffeine (about 2 cups of coffee), it has been proven that you can focus more intensely, work for longer without giving up and have a better short-term memory. All of this will help you in reaching flow state.
But too much will make you crazy, and diminishes your ability to focus and stay in flow.
Tip 8: DRINK MORE WATER. Were you aware that 75% of our brain is made up water? Seventy-five percent! So, what do you think happens when you don’t take in enough water? You get sluggish, fatigued and tired. You lose energy. When you are fueling your brain with water it allows you to stay more focused, productive and energized. Simple thing my friend and so many of us don’t drink enough water. Make it a goal – why not use that 4% challenge goal. Increase your water intake for the next 30 days by 4% and see how you feel.
Listen my peeps…..There are so many positive consequences of flow which include improving your well-being, happiness, life satisfaction and positive affect. Flow is also found to be related to increased performance, higher motivation, and being in a positive mood.
If you want to go deeper into FLOW, there is a great book called FLOW by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly. Great book.
That’s it my friends. I hope you received some value in this episode and I would love it if you would share this with your friends and family that may need to get into their own natural state of flow. Use one of these tips this week.
Until next time, Stay Focused, Stay Positive, and Always Have Fun!
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