When you’ve got a small business to run it’s important that you can make the most out of every hour that you have! Especially if you’re still at the stage of trying to make your side-hustle become your full-time job. This is where ‘flow’ comes in! Flow is a concept that allows you to fully get into the zone of working on a task, making your worlds more productive. Once you’re able to master it and be able to dip in and out whenever you want you’ll be unstoppable!
We’ll Be Discussing:
- What Flow is
- Why Flow is Beneficial
- How to Maximize Your Flow
5 TOP BENEFITS OF FLOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR PRODUCTIVITY
- Higher Productivity
- Higher Quality Work
- Save Time (More Efficient)
- Brings Happiness at/ During Work
- Encourages You to Learn More Skills & Challenge Yourself
WHAT IS FLOW?
Flow is a concept that was developed by happiness psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. He believes that everyone needs to put in effort in order to be happy in their work and reaching a state of flow is a great way to do so.
Flow is when you’re in a deep state of work that you’re enjoying so much that nothing can distract you. You’re so encapsulated by the task and so in the zone, that you’re able to get the work done at a higher standard.
Typically the types of tasks that allow you to achieve flow are those that you love to do and interest you and are of both high skill level and high challenge level. This means that you are challenging yourself enough that you enjoy the process but it’s not too difficult that the task begins to stress you out. Likewise, you’re not getting bored of the task as you would with something that may be ‘too easy’ and not stimulate the use of any of your skills.
When flow is taking place, it can be visualized in 3 stages. Stage 1 is where you’re on your way to achieving flow but not quite in the zone yet. It can take some time to settle into the task and for you to not allow any distractions so it’s important to be strict with yourself to commit to the flow. Remember to be patient with yourself and to keep at it when at this first stage because you’ll get there in the end, it just can take some time!. It depends on the individual but it can take 10-30 mins to get into the state of flow.
The 2nd stage is when you’re in your element, experiencing the glorious flow state. You’re on autopilot and you’re just smashing through your tasks with your brain loving every second of it! You’re not allowing anything to distract you and you are fully immersed in the work you’re doing.
The final stage is when you come out of it and slowly come down from the highs of flow. Your concentration starts to give out and it’s much harder to avoid any distractions. This is when you can tell that your time is done and it’s time to wrap it all up. Just remember you’re not a robot so it’s okay that you can’t be in a constant state of flow all the time!
Everyone is different so it’s extremely important to listen to yourself and figure out what your flow process looks like. Your stages could be slightly different, happen at different times and it also depends on the day or how you’re feeling at the moment. It may take a longer time to reach a state of flow on days where you haven’t slept as well the night before, or you’ve just come out of another really demanding task. The key is to identify these differences so that you know what works for you.
WHY FLOW IS BENEFICIAL
There are so many great benefits to working in a flow state and we’ll be discussing 5 of them right here. Being able to work in flow is key to maximizing your productivity, especially if you run a small business.
The most glorified benefit of flow is that it allows you to be extremely productive. Once you start working in flow states on a regular basis you’ll be more productive than ever! The thing about flow is that you really get stuck in the zone and this means that you’re able to achieve your best and most productive work. These tasks are those that you already love to do so once you add being in a state of flow into the mix you’ll be getting through them like crazy!
HIGHER QUALITY WORK
This slightly goes hand-in-hand with productivity. Once you’re in your flow state you are so absorbed with your task as well as enjoying the whole process of it, that it automatically means that your quality of work would be better than if you weren’t in flow. Because you are so focused this means that you are doing things whole-heartedly and therefore, there is no room for any shortcuts or laziness because that doesn’t exist in flow!
SAVE TIME (MORE EFFICIENT)
Once you’ve identified how you get to your flow then you’ll be able to reach a state of flow quicker and on a more regular basis. Once you’re in flow you also work faster as you’re absorbed with the task at hand, this makes your work more efficient and you’ll be ticking off big projects in no time!
BRINGS HAPPINESS AT/ DURING WORK
The whole point of flow is to bring you happiness at work. We all know how easy it is to hate your job and that’s why most people go into freelance or start their own business in the first place! While that is the key to ‘do something you love and you’ll never work a day in our life’, it’s unavoidable that there will be things that you may not like to do so much at work. That’s why it’s important to take the tasks that you love and do them at 110%. It may seem cheeky to handpick tasks you like and spend lots of time on them, but at the end of the day they need to be done, and they need to be done well… So why not take the time to do so. You’ll have great end results and you’ll be happy doing it!
ENCOURAGES YOU TO LEARN MORE SKILLS & CHALLENGE YOURSELF
The way to experience flow is to make sure that the task you’re doing requires a high level of skill and is at a high challenge level. This ensures that you don’t get bored but also doesn’t overwhelm you too much because it’s still within what you can do. But, once you’ve mastered a task at this certain level of skill and challenge, then you need to up the stakes so that you are able to flow next time. This means that you need to learn more skills or learn ones you know at a higher level. This is great because flow means you are constantly learning and are always bettering yourself so that you can reach that state of flow!
HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR FLOW
So, we’ve discussed why flow is so important when it comes to upping your productivity game, but how can you get into it? And once you’re in it, how can you stay! Whether you want to focus on one task or get loads done, being in a state of flow will get your attention where it needs to be to create the best work possible. So how do we do that? Let’s find out…
GETTING INTO YOUR FLOW
As previously discussed, everyone is different so it’s important to understand and figure out what works for you. Something that could help me enter a state of flow may not work for you…
It’s very important to identify your triggers, these are what help you get into your flow. This could be reading an article that is related to the task you’re about to do, watching a documentary or a short video about the topic, listening to a related Ted Talk or podcast. These can help shift your mind so that you’re surrounded by the topic, making it easier to get into the zone. You want your triggers to get you excited about starting the task so that you can buckle down and get to it!
Again, it’s key to listen to yourself, if something works, do it! Even if it isn’t a ‘conventional’ practice, as long as it’s getting you there then it’s fine. The same goes the other way, if something doesn’t work for you there’s no point trying over and over, just scratch it off and try something else.
LOOK AFTER YOURSELF DURING FLOW
In order to keep your flow going as long as you want, you need to make sure that you’re prepared and that you’re looking after yourself during the process. You can’t expect to be able to be head-deep in flow without taking the occasional break as that just wouldn’t be sustainable! The last thing you want to do is to ‘overflow’, where you work too hard for too long in your flow that you fry your brain and can’t work properly for the rest of the day… That isn’t fun… or productive!
Overflow is you somewhat burning out and that is something none of us wants to experience. If you find yourself often overworking yourself leading to burnout then have a read of our article on how to prevent burnout!
Make sure before sitting down to do the task you want to do in the state of flow that you set out some parameters for yourself. It’s important to have clear goals about what you want to get done and how long you want to spend on it. Knowing your limits is key here because you don’t want to be overworking yourself as that defeats the whole point! It’s a good idea to have an alarm set for when you’re getting close to the end of your session. This will make you aware that it’s time to finish things off and can help prevent you from overflowing. Also, make sure that you stick to your clear list of tasks that you want to complete and not keep adding to them as this can also cause you to overflow.
Make sure that you’re looking after your physical needs as well during a flow session. This means making sure that you’ve got water at your desk (and snacks if that helps!) and make sure you’re energy is up, so it could be a good idea to eat beforehand.
Of course, make sure you’re set up comfortably! There’s no chance for a productive session of any kind if you’re not comfortable. Having a comfy workspace will ensure that you aren’t getting distracted by an aching back! That definitely won’t help with your productivity.
So there you have it, the top tips and tricks to achieving your flow and blowing your productivity out of the water! Once you get a taste of what it’s like to work in a state of flow you’ll never want to go back. Not only will it make working that much more pleasant and enjoyable but your work will be done quickly and to a better standard increasing your overall performance. It’s a win-win! Check out our blog for more tips and tricks on how to run a successful and productive small creative business!
As always, never hesitate to ask us any burning questions you may have. We probably have the answer so there’s no harm in trying! Either message us through our contact page here or across any of our social media platforms. We love helping out our CANDESCENT community! 🤗
Image Credits: © Mateus Campos Felipe | © Daniel Thomas