Discover How to Stay in the Energy Flow
Episode #8 of the course Maximize your energy and productivity to live your best life by Linda Hardenstein
In the first part of this series, we talked about how to increase your energy level and how to decrease stress. Now we’ll look at how to stay in the flow of energy.
If you’ve ever been so engrossed in work or any activity that you forgot what time it is or you were so absorbed in what you were doing because you were “in the zone,” you know what it’s like to be in the flow.
Flow leads to optimum productivity and a feeling of greater satisfaction in your work and life. It happens when your skills match the task at hand, meaning that what you’re doing isn’t too difficult; it’s just challenging enough to require your full attention. Anything, from finishing a marathon or completing a project at work in an allotted amount of time, can have you feeling in the flow. When you’re in the flow, your attention is so focused, you’re not thinking about anything else.
When were you last in a “flow state?” Write down what you were doing, how it felt, and what you liked about it.
According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a professor who studies the psychology of optimal experience, “even the simplest physical act becomes enjoyable when it is transformed so as to produce flow.”
He identified five essential steps for getting into the flow. They are:
1. To set an overall goal and as many sub-goals as are realistically feasible.
2. To find ways of measuring progress in terms of the goals chosen.
3. To keep concentrating on what one is doing and to keep making finer and finer distinctions in the challenges involved in the activity.
4. To develop the skills necessary to interact with the opportunities available.
5. To keep raising the stakes if the activity becomes boring.
An example for getting in the flow at work might be setting up flow conditions to write a report:
1. Overall goal: to write five pages in an hour.
2. Measuring progress: to note how much time it takes to write one page.
3. Concentration: to continue to write as fast as you can and to ignore any phone calls that come in so as not to break your concentration.
4. To interact: to jump from writing to researching articles on the internet to include in one of your pages.
5. To keep raising the stakes: if you wrote five pages in 45 minutes, to write two more pages in the next 15 minutes.
Another example of introducing flow into a physical activity might be as easy as taking a walk.
1. Decide where to go and which route to take. A sub goal might be to decide if there are landmarks to see or places you want to stop.
2. To measure progress, you can use your Fitbit to check your pace and how many steps you’ve walked.
3. During your walk, there might be challenges to overcome. In a city, for example, sidewalks might be uneven or dangerous.
4. You might have to navigate around delivery people or too many people on a crowded sidewalk. If you’re not paying attention, you could trip, stumble, and fall.
5. For your next walk, you might challenge yourself to walk at a faster pace.
Now it’s your turn. Pick a time when you’ve been in the flow or where you want to create flow. Write the steps here:
1. Overall goal: __________
2. What is your measure of progress: __________
3. What kind of concentration is needed: __________
4. What interaction is needed: __________
5. How will you raise the stakes: __________
To get into flow, do the tasks that you love first and enjoy yourself in the process—for example, listening to music while you work.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at how to get rid of energy-sapping toxicity.
Here’s to staying in the flow!
Nine Steps to Achieving Flow and Happiness in Your Work
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
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