The pinnacle of productivity is getting into a flow state. The flow state is a state of mind that is less thinking, and more doing. It’s a matter of using muscle memory to act without your limiting thoughts stopping you.
When in flow state, you can just let go and get lost in doing work. The flow state allows you to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time, and at the same time you don’t feel like you are doing “work”.
Getting into the flow state is where you want to get. The problem is that it’s a difficult place to get to. With that in mind, I found a couple little tricks to getting there as fast as possible.
My Experience with the Flow State
I’m not just making up The Flow State. People from many disciplines have talked about this state. Some have called it being “in the zone” or just really focused. For me, I use it when I’m doing my writing and website work.
Just yesterday I was sitting in Starbucks getting into the flow state. I was able to sit down and write two articles. I was able to zone out the dumb music they play in here and really focus on my work. It was almost like my fingers were moving by themselves and I got tunnel vision on my screen.
I got into this zone after about 10 minutes of working. The key is to keep pushing once you sit down and get to work and you’ll get there. Usually during that first 10 minutes my mind will realize I’m about to start working and start throwing thoughts to distract me my way. If you can push through these distracting thoughts, it’s easier to get into flow state. If you stop for any of these distractions, you’ll have to restart again.
I am very familiar with flow state and can immediately realize that I’m in it because of my prior experience with it in track and karate. Back when I was doing track in high school, I can distinctly remember going into flow state when running around the track. For years I struggled with getting under 2:10 in the 800 meters. Finally my senior year I broke that one random track meet during the week by running 2:06. I distinctly remember after the race feeling like it was easy. One key component of going into flow state by accident was that I didn’t care at all about that race. It meant nothing and was just one of many meets. I was running around the track without thinking at all. I just ran and tried to win.
Back when I did karate, I would go to sparring every Friday. I faced people of all talent levels so it was kinda hit or miss whether I’d have to really focus or not. There was one kid in particular who actually went to the same high school as me. He was alright at karate, but was really repetitive. For some reason, I fell into flow state when sparring him one time. I can distinctly remember this one event in all of my sparring because it was as if I predicted every one of his attacks without thinking for about 5 minutes straight. Whatever he threw at me I shifted and countered immediately.
The flow state works. It’s an incredible feeling to be in the flow state and just allow your subconscious to take over. Getting to the flow state day after day will be a game changer for your productivity. Believe that.
How to get in the Flow State
The way to get into flow state is to just let go and allow yourself to act without judgement. Obviously that’s pretty vague, so I’ll let you know on my specific routine.
- Get to a comfortable place isolated from any distracting shit. For me, I like to go to a coffee shop to work, but I also have a place set aside in my house for this as well. Coffee shop > Desk at house > On the couch. The reason I say this is because for a long time I would just attempt to work on my couch. This was distracting as shit because I’d either have a movie on in the background or someone else would be in the room watching something. Get away from all that.
- Lock in to your place. What I like to do is get some good headphones on to block out the dumb music most coffee shops play. I did use these headphones for a while but they broke. The little plastic part on the ear snapped off and makes it hard to stay on my head. I have a pair of these headphones on order as I’ve seen them recommended on a lot of sites. I’d really recommend getting a pair of good headphones as I’m wearing the little ear buds you get from mac and they are completely inadequate.
- Put on some music that allows you to get in a groove but at the same time not be distracted. This is a little tough for me because I’ve found that a lot of music distracts me with their lyrics. I’ve turned to electronic music and it works wonders for me. Experiment here for yourself as this will be something very specific to your tastes. I’ve recently found “The Glitch Mob” albums work great.
- Open up whatever it is you’re working on and get started. Let your fingers just start moving without letting your thoughts stop you. At this point you’ll start having thoughts to distract you. Ignore these and keep going. If you keep ignoring these thoughts, they’ll go away. Soon enough, you’ll be in the flow state.
- Once you’re in the flow state, don’t stop. Stopping will require you to start all over again and your mind will again throw distracting thoughts your way.
If you stop at any point you risk losing your place and having to start over. Just keep going until completion or until your desired rest time.
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