Flow is not a new concept. If you are a productivity buff like me, I am sure you have heard about Flow over and over again.
The concept was introduced by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced as Me-High Chick-sent-Me-High), the world’s leading researcher on positive psychology. His most famous & influential work Flow: the psychology of Optimal Experience was published in 1990, where he talks about how one can find happiness in his work and how one can find the most optimal environment to maximize productivity. It is about happiness and work, and how they co-relate.
So, What is FLOW?
“Flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”
In other words, finding the moment or environment when/where you are so involved in what you are doing that you forget the time that has passed; you also don’t feel like you are actually working but getting mere enjoyment from the process. You also feel an unprecedented surge of energy.
So, how do you get yourself in the Flow state?
This is the technique I use on a daily basis to get into the zone or Flow State.
You might be expecting a sexy idea or a magic bullet. After I share the idea, you will ask me “Is that it?”. It is not a revolutionary idea however it is simple and to-the-point.
Let me walk you through a few examples to explain how I do it. You will get a better understanding of the actual technique once I illustrate the ideas.
I love to exercise – for me, it is a necessity. However, most of the days I am not that excited to do it. I have to constantly push myself to get to my work-outs; I have to force myself to put on my exercise gear and go downstairs to my home gym.
Right from the beginning of the workout- the stretching, the warm-up I can’t wait for it to get over. If you see me during the first few minutes of my exercise, you can easily tell that I do not want to be there.
But around the 20-minute mark something magical happens. All of a sudden I feel a rush through my body – perhaps that is a dopamine rush – the feel-good drug. I am sweating, I am exhausted but I am smiling. I get to a point where I do not want to stop.
I researched this and found out that most people who exercise experience the same thing. There is a point in one’s workout when the endorphins kick in – at that point you experience the zone or runner’s high. And at that point, you are so glad that you exercised.
2. Cold Calling
I have mentioned in my previous posts, that I am a Sales Professional. A big part of my job (and every salesperson’s job) involves prospecting, which is a glorified term for cold-calling. That means picking up the phone and calling strangers – and getting them interested in what you have to offer.
Sounds fun, right? Actually not. Not for me.
I am no Jordan Belfort from The Wolf of Wall Street. I am not the guy who can walk into an office, pick up the phone, and on the very first call sell a stranger $10000 worth of stocks. Most salespeople I know are not like this.
But I know, and all my Sales friends know that cold-calling is important. It is dreadful, scary, sometimes embarrassing but important if you want to feed your family.
So how do I do it? I have something to call the 5-dial rule.
Every day I set a goal to make those dreaded 1st five calls. And that’s all I ask of myself. But here is the beauty- by the time I hit the 5th call – by some type of magic – I start to feel very good. Maybe one of the prospects is really interested, or I called them at the right time. But things go uphill from there.
After I get in the zone – I don’t need to push myself to cold-call. It just happens. Some days I don’t want to stop. I am on a roll. I don’t need motivation anymore. But every day making those first 5 calls is the hardest part of my day.
I usually write my blog posts on Saturdays. Every single Saturday it is a dull ordeal.
I grab my laptop and head over to the local library or Starbucks. I grab a Grande Blonde Roast Coffee, find myself a seat and open my laptop. For the first thirty minutes, I usually just stare at the screen. I do not know what I am going to write about. Often I browse social media (Reddit or Facebook), and before I know almost an hour is gone.
Then something tells me to just start writing.
So I open up my WordPress account and start to write something. For the first 10 minutes that I write, I have lots of stupid thoughts “Who is going to read this shitty article?” , “Your grammar sucks”, “Let’s write about something else”
But I ignore those unproductive thoughts, and I just type & type; and before I know I am 30 minutes into an article. I do not want to stop, somehow the doors to my pre-frontal cortex open up; words and ideas start pouring in.
As I am writing this particular article, I am in the Flow State. I have pushed through my writer’s block on this Saturday. The perfectionist in me has gone to sleep, now the writer has awoken & he just wants to write.
And that’s how I write during the weekends.
I have shared with you three areas of my life – Exercise, Work, and Blogging where I constantly hack my mind to get into the zone. So what can you deduce out of this of these 3 examples?
Very simple: “Just Suck it up”.
Yes !! For the first 20 or 30 minutes just suck it up. Just force yourself to do it, and after a while, you will be in the zone and you will not need motivation anymore. The Flow will take care of it.
A moment ago I mentioned that you might not be impressed. I understand, and I am totally cool with that. Perhaps you were looking for a silver bullet or a trick.
But this simple hack works effectively for me. JUST SUCK IT UP!!
No matter how motivated you are, there will be times when you don’t feel like it. There will be times you are sick of it – but that is when you keep pushing yourself.
Make self-discipline your ally. And sooner or later, you will get in the zone. Time will fly by, perhaps you will miss your meal – but at the end of it you will have completed what you set out to achieve; And that too with a sly grin on your face (the same type of grin I have right now as I am typing this sentence).
Everyone can get into the Flow State.
Everyone can get into the Zone every day.
Whatever you want do now – just do it! Just suck it up, and it will be done!!
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